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12/14/18
Vipassana Fellowship Meditation - 3 November - 9 November-Contemplation - Day 36-Day 37-Day 38-Day 39-Day 40-Day 41-Day 42
Filed under: General, Vinaya Pitaka, Sutta Pitaka, Abhidhamma Pitaka, Tipiṭaka, ಅಭಿಧಮ್ಮಪಿಟಕ, ವಿನಯಪಿಟಕ, ತಿಪಿಟಕ (ಮೂಲ)
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Vipassana Fellowship Meditation - 3 November - 9 November-Contemplation - Day 36-Day 37-Day 38-Day 39-Day 40-Day 41-Day 42

A Random Image

In
this sixth week we explore Appreciative Joy meditation. If you are
sitting twice each day, then please pick a complementary technique from
those we have already met for your other session. Work steadily and
gently to establish your regular sittings. We’ll also briefly outline
the final brahmavihara practice (for use beyond the course) and conclude
our look at the precepts.

https://course.org/campus/mod/book/view.php?id=141


Saturday - Mudita: Appreciative Joy Meditation

1. Mudita: Appreciative Joy Meditation

APPRECIATIVE JOY

“I will abide pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with appreciative joy,

Likewise, the second, third and fourth quarters.

So above and below, around and everywhere, and to all as if to myself.

I will abide pervading the entire world with appreciative joy,

Abundant, exalted, immeasurable; without hostility or ill-will.”

Venerable Nyanaponika Thera wrote:

“Your
life will gain in joy by sharing the happiness of others as if it were
yours. Did you never observe how in moments of happiness men’s features
change and become bright with joy? Did you never notice how joy rouses
men to noble aspirations and deeds, exceeding their normal capacity? Did
not such experience fill your own heart with joyful bliss? It is in
your power to increase such experience of sympathetic joy, by producing
happiness in others, by bringing them joy and solace.

Let
us teach real joy to others! Many have unlearned it. Life, though full
of woe, holds also sources of happiness and joy, unknown to most. Let us
teach people to seek and to find real joy within themselves and to
rejoice with the joy of others! Let us teach them to unfold their joy to
ever sublimer heights!”

Muditā
is the third of the brahmavihāra (or Divine Abidings). Its sense is
probably best conveyed by the term ‘joy with others’, but it is often
translated as Appreciative Joy, Sympathetic Joy, Empathetic Joy, or
simply Gladness.

We
shall begin practising muditā bhāvanā - the development of joy with
others. This is another of the practices designed to open our hearts and
is a beautiful complement to the karunā bhāvanā with which we have been
working. Muditā to some extent can be seen as a balancing factor to
karunā. It stops us becoming overwhelmed by the suffering in the world
and melancholia and instead allows us to feel an active bond with the
joy that exists in other people and the beings with which we share this
world.

The
structure we will be using is similar to those we have used previously.
The sections this time begin with a good friend and work outwards to
encompass all beings before returning to focus on gratitude at the joy
in us. We begin with a good friend because it is usually easiest to tap
into a resource of joy and happiness in someone whom we know well and
like. Although we may be aware that the complexity of their lives also
includes moments that are not joy-filled, we can usually remember
incidents that were characterised by happiness and joy. These are what
we focus on in this meditation.

As
in the previous brahmavihāra practices our job is to empathise fully
with the quality we are developing. We need to really feel the joy of
the person. We must work to take it on as if it were our own joy. When
we were working with Compassion Meditation we needed to feel the
suffering of the other being as our own. We showed compassion to the
reality of the experience and took on that suffering. Here we need to
really feel the joy of the other person and empathise wholly with that
joy. This may seem strange initially but we must not be afraid to share
in the happiness of others.

When
we begin to work with a person who is hostile we must be careful to
desist from being judgemental. In this meditation we are not concerned
by the hurt they may have caused or about any imbalance (or immorality)
in the way they choose to run their lives. We need to overcome our
disapproval of aspects of their lives and concentrate solely on that
which is joyful. There are glimmers of joy and happiness in the lives of
everyone and it is these we must cherish. Maybe the hostile person runs
an exploitative unethical business that has cheated us - but can’t we
still rejoice in the joy that he feels when he returns home in the
evening to his loved ones? Here he has no need for duplicity, no need
for stress. He can concentrate on the happiness that the stability of
his wealth and family life bring. Can we share that joy and happiness?
Can we not begrudge him it? Feel his joy. Celebrate it.

As
we widen our view we will see that there is joy in even the simplest of
activities. In some areas of the world even finding enough food to feed
one’s child is a joyful event. Others find joy and happiness in the
recognition of their activities by peers and superiors. Joy can be seen
throughout life if only we look for it and recognise it wherever it
occurs. Too often because we choose to be judgemental about the
individual or the circumstances we close down our hearts and are unable
to witness and share the joy that exists. Here we let go of the context
and focus on feeling joy wherever it resides - unconditionally.

The
final section of this meditation concentrates on the joy in us. The
muditā bhāvanā practice is mainly outward looking - we share the joy of
others - but it is helpful to reflect that joy does indeed reside in
many parts of our own lives and to celebrate and feel gratitude for
that. We should not feel guilt for the happiness we know. It is a part
of life which we need like all other sentient beings. Be grateful and
cherish the joy in your own life. Feel able to share it with others.

INSTRUCTIONS

Allow
at least thirty minutes for this meditation and try to give a
reasonably equal amount of time and effort to each of the sections. Set
up your posture in the usual way with your spine straight and a firm
base. Gently close your eyes and allow a gentle smile to play across
your face as any tension subsides. Focus for a few moments on the
breathing before beginning the first section. Any time that your mind
wanders remember to gently bring it back to focusing on the joy of the
being with which you are concerned.

Section 1



A Dear Friend



(We
are often most aware of happiness and joy in those whom we choose as
friends. Even if not every aspect of their lives is joy-filled, we can
recognise and empathise with those areas that are happy.)

Rejoicing in the success and happiness of a close friend.

Share his/her joy and gladness in any aspect of life.

May it continue.

…enjoying the happiness of our friend.

Section 2



A Benefactor



(Often
when we look with gratitude at someone who has benefited us - maybe a
teacher or parent - we see the great joy contained within his or her
life. Even if their lives are complex we can recognise and celebrate the
moments of joy and happiness.)

Rejoicing in the happiness and joy of a benefactor or parent (if living).

Be glad for his/her success and achievement.

May it continue and spread to other aspects of his or her life.

…enjoying the happiness of our benefactor.

Section 3



A Neutral Person



(Those
about whom we know little often allow us glimpses of the happiness and
success they feel in areas of their lives. Let us feel that joy with
them.)

Rejoicing in the success and achievement of this person.

May the joy continue and expand throughout his or her life.

Recognising the gladness within, let us share their happiness.

…enjoying the happiness of this person.

Section 4



A Hostile Person



(Even
individuals with whom we may have some disagreement are capable of joy.
Let us not be blind to their successes and the happiness they exhibit
in particular areas of their lives. Although we may be unable to condone
their behaviour in some areas and indeed may feel aggrieved by it, can
we not open our hearts to celebrate with them their joy and happiness?)

Recognising the joy and happiness felt by this person.

May that joy continue and extend throughout their lives.

May we unconditionally share in their happiness and joy.

… enjoying his or her happiness.

Section 5



The Wider Community



(Individuals
and groups of people in our locality, our country, other countries, the
world. They too experience joy and happiness. Let us recognise it
within them and share their happiness.)

Recognising and sharing the joy of those around us…

The happiness of parents playing with children…

The joy of an employee recognised and rewarded by an employer…

The joy of a family whose loved one pulls through illness…

The contentment of knowing they are loved…

The happiness of financial and emotional security…

The joy of having enough food to feed their young…

The joy of knowing they have succeeded…

The satisfaction of a task well done…

…enjoying their happiness.

Section 6



All Beings



(Sharing the joy of all sentient beings in any aspect of their lives.)

Feeling the joy of…

Animals - safe, after the chase

Birds - on finding enough to eat in winter

Other beings - on finding their endeavours fruitful

… enjoying their happiness.

Section 7



Reflect on one’s own Joy



(Like
all beings our lives have moments of joy and happiness. Take some time
to recognise and celebrate this. Show some gratitude for the joy we
receive.)

Recognising the moments of joy and happiness in my life…

I rejoice in them and enjoy them.

I feel gratitude for whatever joy I have experienced.

I choose to share whatever joy I have or will have with others…

At
the end of the session, sit for a few moments before opening the eyes.
Resolve to take some of the spirit of joyfulness into your day and to
share it with others.

Summary Of This Practice

Try
to practise meditation twice each day for a minimum of thirty minutes
if possible. Alternate one session of ānāpānasati (Mindfulness of
Breathing) with one of mudita bhāvanā (Cultivation of Appreciative Joy).
If you are unable to practice twice each day then on alternate days use
one of the two meditations.

Mudita bhāvanā - Developing Joy with Others:

1 A Dear Friend

2 A Benefactor

3 A Neutral Person

4 A Hostile Person

5 The Wider Community

6 All Beings

7 Reflection on, and gratitude for, our own Joy

Practise
noticing joy in your daily life. Recognise it in the activities and
experiences of others. Simply mentally note it each time you become
aware of it.

https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=408


Audio Player - Appreciative Joy Meditation

Guided meditation files are intended to illustrate how to structure your
own sittings. Once you are familiar with the format you should try to
meditate without listening to these audio files.

Mudita - Appreciative Joy Meditation

 


-25:19
 
Last modified: Saturday, 29 September 2018, 4:06 PM
https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=142


Contemplation - Day 36

215. From
lust arises grief,

from
lust arises fear.

Freed
from lust one is

free
from grief and fear.

216. From
craving arises grief,

from
craving arises fear.

Freed
from craving one is

free
from grief and fear.

217. Virtuous
and insightful,

principled
and truthful,

diligent
in one’s duties -

such,
people hold dear.

218. Intent
on the Ineffable,

with
mind inspired,

and
free of sense pleasures:

such
a one is bound Upstream.

219. Returning
safe from afar

after
a long absence,

one
is welcomed home

by
family, friends and well-wishers.

220. As
family welcome a dear one’s return,

so
will one’s good deeds

welcome
the good-doer

when
gone from this world to the next.

Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 4:23 PM
https://course.org/campus/mod/book/view.php?id=143


Sunday - Recognising Joy and Sorrow

1. Recognising Joy and Sorrow

Some
folk do get a little obsessive about dukkha and Buddhists sometimes get
an undeserved reputation for being a glum and pessimistic lot! The path
we are following is concerned with recognising reality however it
manifests. It is certainly of critical importance that we do not shut
ourselves off from things that are unappealing or painful - that would
be a denial of reality - but it is equally important that we fully
recognise and engage with what is beautiful and joyous. If we orientate
our outlook only towards suffering then this is unbalanced, crude and
destructive: it denies the complexity of life.

There
is nothing to be gained from denying happiness and joy; they are
features of most people’s lives. What is cautioned against is the idea
that we can be permanently happy and joyful here when the evidence
abounds to contradict this. Unfortunately, some people delude themselves
that everything is solvable if only they think positive thoughts.
Though well intentioned, this soon becomes a longing or craving for an
unrealistic and unattainable ideal. This is contrary to the Buddha’s
teaching that deals always with reality rather than fantasy. We are
told, and may come to know through experience, that all conditioned
things are impermanent, not-Self and ultimately unsatisfactory. This
does not mean that our lives are doomed to be a miserable and monotonous
lurch from one grey experience to another. If we look around us we can
see clearly that there is great happiness, there exists pleasure, some
people are truly joyful. We should accept this with gratitude and share
in this joy. The last thing we need to do is go into denial about the
joyful aspects of life: we need to be able to experience them fully, see
them clearly, regard them as part of the picture - to be mindful of the
joy in our lives is as important as any other form of mindfulness
practice.

When
we were practising mettā bhāvanā it was stressed that whilst we can
work towards having the capacity to radiate mettā unequivocally to all
beings, this does not mean that we need necessarily approve of their
actions or even like their personalities. Mettā is a pure quality that,
with practice, can be shown to all regardless of whether they
reciprocate or whether we would choose them as friends. Similarly, when
we are working on muditā bhāvanā the empathy that we feel with the
joyous person is unconditional. The cause of the person’s happiness is
not our concern - we do not need to vet it to see if it would meet our
own standards. That they are happy in that moment is enough; and the
object of the exercise is to develop and extend our ability to share in
the joy of others. Appreciative Joy is untainted by qualification and
assessment - it is a pure point of contact between us and the happiness
that another sentient being experiences.

Muditā,
or appreciative joy, for some is more difficult to arrive at than mettā
or karunā. Like the other states, it is dependent on the conditions
that pertain for us at this moment and should not be associated with a
static view our personality or outlook. Sometimes meditators get the
idea that they are constitutionally unsuited to one or other of these
brahmavihāra practices but in reality we may just have to work a little
harder to tune in to those that present us with apparent difficulties
now. One beautiful aspect of impermanence (anicca) is that it releases
us from the oppression that a fixed self-view imposes. Impermanence
means that what we characterize as difficult now cannot remain so.
Through steady application of the technique, however awkward or
mechanical it might seem at first, a spark will arise that awakens us to
the potential of the practice. The four brahmavihāra techniques are
complementary and, to some extent, the development of any one of them
will give us the confidence to persist with the others. It is
traditional to begin with mettā but different people find different
techniques more immediately approachable.

When
we first come to recognize joy in someone else, it need not necessary
be unalloyed. There are degrees of joyfulness just like any other
quality. Don’t expect initially to feel overwhelmed by it. Most people
begin by recognizing a glimmer of joy and happiness that a person
experiences in a particular situation and then try to extend this
through the practice. Again, one can rearrange the order of the sections
if you find this helpful. Begin with the section that, for you, seems
easiest. Once you are more comfortable with the technique then revert to
the sections as given. It is important that we don’t prejudge the
experience: often there is an expectation that we will feel blissed-out
during muditā bhāvanā, but this is not usually the case and, in any
event, would be indicative of an imbalance in our approach. Take things
steadily.

https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=144


On Appreciative Joy (Video)

Andrew speak about the practice of mudita.

Last modified: Monday, 13 February 2017, 4:48 PM
https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=142


Contemplation - Day 36

215. From
lust arises grief,

from
lust arises fear.

Freed
from lust one is

free
from grief and fear.

216. From
craving arises grief,

from
craving arises fear.

Freed
from craving one is

free
from grief and fear.

217. Virtuous
and insightful,

principled
and truthful,

diligent
in one’s duties -

such,
people hold dear.

218. Intent
on the Ineffable,

with
mind inspired,

and
free of sense pleasures:

such
a one is bound Upstream.

219. Returning
safe from afar

after
a long absence,

one
is welcomed home

by
family, friends and well-wishers.

220. As
family welcome a dear one’s return,

so
will one’s good deeds

welcome
the good-doer

when
gone from this world to the next.

Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 4:23 PM
https://course.org/campus/mod/book/view.php?id=146


Monday - Envy and Fairness

1. Envy and Fairness

Sometimes
when we focus on the joy in other people’s lives we may find feelings
of hurt or jealousy arise which stem from our own circumstances. It is
very easy to get caught up in comparison of the relative merits and
worthiness of people and on occasions even envy or other negative states
might arise during a session. When this occurs we can quickly, if we
are not careful, get into a spiral where guilt at the arising of the
unwholesome feeling brings about despondency or sadness. As with all the
samatha techniques the course of action should be to nip any
distractions in the bud - and this envy or grading of the worth of
others against ourselves is just such a distraction. Acknowledge any
feeling or thought that arises and return to empathising with the joy
that the person feels in his or her situation. The ability to do this
evenly - unconditionally - is the training we are working to master. If
we could accomplish this now we could skip the sittings altogether! …
but most of us have a bit of work to do first. It will be a gradual
flowering brought about by the warmth and nutriment that we bring to the
task; our commitment and dedication combined with the realisation of
just how important the brahmavihāra qualities are. As we cultivate these
qualities we will experience them in their pristine purity from time to
time and this will become more noticeable as our practice deepens.

On
a mundane level it is a benefit of these practices that we begin to
understand others and ourselves more. We become aware of motivation and
the factors that bring situations about. Within the meditation sitting,
however, we should try not to stray into the realm of exploration and
explanation. It is very tempting, but this is best saved for our time
off the cushion. There is nothing to stop us having some contemplation
time outside of our formal practice periods for thinking things through.
Try to maintain, as far as possible, a clear idea of the importance of
staying with the object of meditation. Although investigation into a
subject’s motives may seem related to the activity we are carrying out,
it is also a distraction from our object. We all have a tendency to go
down this route, initially, but it needs to be kept in check for the
efficacy of the process. The technique works without investigation or
analysis of a subject’s motivation; and the benefits of working in this
way will become apparent.

This
is a no blame path. We arrive at any technique exactly as we are. Some
things initially will seem easier than others, but this does not
necessarily mean that our continuing experience with a particular
technique will remain unchanged. It would be highly unusual were that to
be the case. Sometimes it may not be flattering to the ego to find a
practice focussing on joy to be so difficult. These are important
lessons and rather than using them as a cause for despondency, see them
for what they are: an opportunity for practice. Bhāvanā means
development or cultivation. We are taking the first tentative steps
along a path that can lead to our ability to share unconditional joy,
lovingkindness, and compassion equanimously with all. This is bound to
be hard work, but is eminently possible and we will be sustained in this
work by the small realisations that occur quite naturally from our
daily practice. This is a present moment philosophy - don’t shackle
yourself with guilt over perceived failings when you have the
opportunity to begin again in this very moment with the lessons that
have been learned.

Sometimes
we block the experience of sharing another person’s joy by analysing
the situation that has produced it. Just as we are aware of our own
imperfections we will also become aware of those in others if we allow
ourselves to wander off into discursive thought. For the sake of the
efficacy of the practice, it is important that we pull back from getting
into whether someone “deserves” the happiness they have. The monster
that is envy is the enemy of muditā. Try to keep the scenario as simple
as possible, using only as much scene setting as is strictly necessary
for you to connect with muditā for the particular person. In time, this
preliminary work will be unnecessary. If we over-elaborate then it is
difficult for us to see the joy in the person’s life at all; it becomes
tainted by qualification. We simply connect with the feeling of
happiness that the person experiences. It is not necessarily the case
that the same incident or set of circumstances would evoke a similar
feeling in us - we respond in different ways to diverse events. The
practice is about empathy for what the person who is the subject of the
section feels. If they feel a moment of joy, however it is caused, then
we can try to connect with that feeling.

Making
judgements about people is standard behaviour and most of us do it much
of the time. Within the meditation session, though, it is important
that we try to suspend this tendency. It is not necessarily wrong, but
it is unhelpful. Discrimination (in its original sense, rather than when
used to mean prejudice) is a good quality, and one which is very useful
on the spiritual path, but it relies on too much thinking to be of
direct use within the actual meditation sitting; it takes us away from
the object. Its utility at this stage is limited to making the initial
assessment of which section of the technique a particular person can be
most usefully placed.

Our
reaction to each of the meditations and to individual sittings will not
be predictable. The brahmavihāra practices work at a very deep level
and this will sometimes inevitably mean that emotions and feelings arise
which are complex and occasionally difficult to reconcile with the task
we have set ourselves. Never forget that bhāvanā means cultivation or
development and this is exactly what we are doing here: we are working
to maximise our ability to act and react with joy in the success of
others. The perfecting of any these qualities will take time but there
will be a steady development.

Although
all of the brahmavihāra qualities are interrelated, and there is a
natural tendency to want to merge them, I believe it is most effective
to develop each one separately in order that clarity can be maintained
about the distinctive nature of each. Once they have been fully
developed, of course, then such structures have passed their usefulness
and can be discarded.

https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=147


Contemplation - Day 38

227. This
is an ancient practice, O Atula,

not
only of today:

they
criticize those who are silent,

they
criticize those who speak much,

they
criticize those who speak little.

There
is no one on earth left uncriticized.

228. There
never was, there never will be,

nor
exists there now,

a
person who is wholly criticized,

or
wholly praised.

229. Day
after day,

the
wise examine and praise

those
flawless in character,

wisdom,
knowledge and virtue.

230. Who
would blame one

pure,
as refined gold?

The
gods, and even

Brahma,
praise him.

231. Guard
against bodily misdeeds.

Restrained
in bodily actions,

abandoning
harmful bodily actions,

one
should cultivate good conduct.

232. Guard
against spoken misdeeds.

Restrained
in speech,

abandoning
wrong speech,

one
should cultivate right speech.

233. Guard
against mental misdeeds.

Mentally
restrained,

abandoning
wrong thought,

one
should cultivate right thought.

234. Restrained
in physical, verbal

and
mental conduct,

the
wise are indeed secure.

Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 4:28 PM
https://course.org/campus/mod/book/view.php?id=148


Tuesday - Fifth Precept

1. Fifth Precept

THE FIFTH PRECEPT

surā meraya majjapamādatthānā veramani sikkhā padam samādiyāmi

I take the precept to abstain from taking intoxicating liquor

In the Sutta Nipāta we read that a Buddhist:

“…should
not take intoxicating drinks. The householder who likes this teaching
does not urge others to drink and does not condone drinking, knowing
that it ends in madness. Through drunkenness foolish people commit evils
and cause them to be committed by other foolish people. Avoid that
which is a realm of evils, maddening, deluding, and the delight of the
foolish.”

In
many ways this is the easiest precept for most of us to keep. Unless we
are addicted to alcohol it is physiologically fairly easy to give it
up. But oh what psychological resistance many of us will feel:

“Can’t I have just one glass of wine with my meal?”

“Surely in moderation alcohol can’t do me any harm!”

“I need to socialise with my colleagues and clients.”

Like
all of the precepts the fifth precept is entered into voluntarily. No
one is commanding or instructing us to change anything about our
lifestyles. The principle objection to alcohol is that it clouds our
vision. It makes us less likely to carry out actions that are skilful
and which benefit others and ourselves. It also numbs our senses so that
we are unaware of the subtleties of sensations and feelings and tends
to make our behaviour coarser and more selfish. If we have chosen to
follow a path that relies on clear seeing then that path will be much
less viable if we are operating at anything less than with all our
faculties in order. At best alcohol temporarily clouds the mind; at
worst it can lead us into destructive behaviour and permanently damage
our ability to function. Even if we feel we can handle our own alcohol
intake our public endorsement of drinking helps to portray the activity
as normal and sociable; this makes it far more difficult for those who
are alcoholics and non-drinkers to refuse to partake in social
situations without pressure.

Many
Buddhist practitioners continue to drink and feel guilty about doing
so. Others use arguments about balance and moderation. It took me a few
years to decide to observe this particular precept and when I did it was
based on my understanding of what was best for my development and my
interactions with those around me. There is nothing holy or angelic
about this: rather it is a practical consideration. If I am intent on
developing clarity and insight why would I choose to cloud my mind? It
seems like one step forward, two steps back! Similarly if I want clarity
and insight for myself why would I choose to deny that to others? If I
participate in promoting the drinking of alcohol (as a normative part of
my daily activities) aren’t I behaving less than compassionately?

Perhaps
our tendency to compartmentalise our lives into `the spiritual’ and
`real life’ is part of the problem. We kid ourselves that as long as
we’re completely sober during the spiritual bit we can carry on living
it up in everyday situations. Well, we might be able to do this for a
while - and I would guess that most Buddhist converts in their early
years probably do manage this to a degree - but it cannot be a long-term
strategy if we are serious about this Path.

Gradually,
for most people, there comes a realisation that this separating out of
‘fun’ versus the spiritual doesn’t really work. It comes from the
misconception that there is a separate spiritual side to us - serious,
deep, meaningful, developing - and, presumably, so profoundly dull,
unsatisfying and unimportant that we need to escape it at regular
intervals. In reality we are not these separate individuals. We can
choose to live consistently; with every aspect of our lives becoming a
feature of our spiritual practice. This is not easy - you may have
guessed by now that I’m not a big fan of folks who claim that the
spiritual life is easy for any of us - but it can be worked at until it
becomes more natural for us.

Whatever
you decide please do not think that unless you give up totally there is
no point in following other aspects of the Buddha’s teachings:
Meditation will work for you to a degree whether you give up or not; the
other ethical teachings will reduce the amount of suffering you
occasion and receive. BUT, but, but… The best advice given by all the
teachers from two and a half thousand years of this tradition is that
ultimately it would be worth your while to make a determined effort to
reduce your craving for alcohol. If you can try to do that sooner rather
than later then you will most likely see the benefits sooner rather
than later too. We are not working against the clock but we are told
that this human birth provides the optimal chance to make the leap from
the rounds of suffering - surely that’s worth making an effort for.

There are many good reasons that we may like to consider for observing the Fifth Precept. Some of them include:

In
our meditation periods we are aiming for maximum clarity. If there is a
residue of alcohol in our system we can’t achieve this.

Outside
our meditation periods we are trying to make sure that our actions are
mindful and skilful. If we wish to make the correct assessment of
situations in order that we can act ethically and compassionately then a
clear mind is likely to help.

The
consumption of alcohol is often about masking our true feelings. The
chemical stimulation makes us feel happy - it is a quick fix to change
our mood. We should be aware by now that quick fixes don’t work. We need
to be honest about our moods and emotions. If we constantly seek to
escape them we will never discover their true nature or be able to deal
with them appropriately.

Even
if we drink alcohol in moderation we broadcast a message to those
around us that this is a normal thing to do. Aware that others may be
prone to addiction this could be regarded as an uncompassionate act. Are
we sure that the colleagues we are offering a drink to can handle it?
Do we ever consider that we are offering them something that is
intrinsically harmful? Aware of the violence and social breakdown in
part caused by consumption of alcohol why do we conspire to make it a
normative experience?

Is it really so important to us? Why do we crave it? We know it doesn’t do us any good so why continue with it?

The
Fifth Precept specifically refers to alcohol (distilled or fermented
intoxicating liquor) in ordinary life and does not refer to medical
drugs. It is permissible from a Buddhist point of view to use any
substance for purely medicinal use and medicine is seen as one of the
essential requisites of the Sangha. In most cases, though, I don’t think
lay folks can, hand-on-heart, claim that their drinking of alcohol is
for this purpose.

The
Fifth Precept is a common stumbling block for many Westerners. There
are many other sense pleasures and diversions - things we crave, things
we avoid - which will similarly require our attention as we edge our way
along the path. It is a measure of the destructiveness of this
particular activity that it was felt necessary to single it out as one
of only five precepts given for daily observance by lay people. It was
deemed that important. Have another go at abstaining for a while if you
can. Don’t try to see it as a make-or-break situation but do it because
you have acknowledged that it would be helpful. If you find you come
back to drinking later then accept that this has happened and try again.
Don’t beat yourself up with guilt: that is a pointless destructive
activity too. All this abstinence sometimes gets Buddhism labelled as a
killjoy religion - but we are merely abstaining from a chemically
induced haze in order that we can have the clarity that may lead to the
end of all suffering. Why settle for the temporary fake stuff when there
is real bliss to be experienced? Nor need this be thought of as aeons
away - we can earn, at the very least, glimpses of such bliss in this
life.

https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=149


Contemplation - Day 39

235. You
are like a withered leaf;

the
messengers of death await.

You
stand on the eve of your departure,

and
no provision made for the journey.

236. Make
an island of yourself.

With
swift effort become wise.

Purged
of stain and passions,

you
will enter the Noble Realm.

237. Now,
your life is ending,

you
approach the King of Death.

There’s
no resting place along the way,

and
no provision made for the journey.

238. Make
an island of yourself.

With
swift effort become wise.

Purged
of stain and passions,

never
again to face birth and decay.

239. Step
by step, little by little,

moment
by moment,

the
wise remove their impurities -

as
a smith purifies silver.

Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 4:58 PM
https://course.org/campus/mod/book/view.php?id=150


Wednesday - Eight Precepts

1. Eight Precepts

THE EIGHT PRECEPTS

We
have concluded our look at the Five Precepts - the rules of training
which we may choose to observe and which are traditionally deemed
necessary for our development. The Five Precepts can be augmented by
other precepts on Observance Days. I will give a brief outline here in
case you wish to explore them further. Most often the formula given is
as follows:

(1) I take the precept to abstain from destroying sentient beings.

(2) I take the precept to abstain from taking things not given.

(3) I take the precept to abstain from sexual activity.

(4) I take the precept to abstain from false speech.

(5) I take the precept to abstain from intoxicants.

(6) I take the precept to abstain from taking food at inappropriate times.

(7)
I take the precept to abstain from dancing, singing, music and unseemly
shows; from the use of garlands, perfumes and unguents; from things
that tend to beautify and adorn (the person).

(8) I take the precept to abstain from (using) high and luxurious seats (or beds).

Keeping
these precepts for a 24-hour period each week (or even once each month)
is an additional discipline. In Buddhist countries many lay people
would adhere to the Eight Precepts on the Uposatha Day, and would spend
time at their local temple listening to Dhamma discourses or meditating.
Although most of the precepts are the same as the Five Precepts, we can
see that the additional ones aim at a reduction in our attachment to
the sensual world.

In
this formula the Third Precept becomes an undertaking of celibacy for
the period to which we have committed. The new Sixth Precept stops us
over-indulging in food by taking just what we need and deciding not to
eat at all after mid-day (Note: we still drink liquid). The Seventh
Precept is about modesty and reducing vanity: it is a challenge to stay
in the here and now without resorting to fantasy and escape, and an
opportunity to practise not clinging to sense objects. The Eighth
Precept is a decision not to overindulge in sleep and other creature
comforts. When visiting temples and retreat centres it is also about
respecting those who may be our spiritual superiors and learning to put
aside our egos for a while.

The
Sixth Precept is usually also observed on periods of retreat and
mirrors a rule that is followed everyday by monks and nuns. Lay people
choose to observe this precept as a way of not over-indulging the
senses. In the same way that other religions observe fasts, Buddhism
sees value in restraining our habitual tendency to greed. For one day
each week, or on the monthly observance day, we commit to taking what
food is necessary and abstaining from that which is not. In practice
people observing this precept eat shortly before noon, without greed,
but ensuring that they have sufficient nutrition for the rest of the
day. They then abstain from eating until the following day (after dawn
or whenever they rise). It is important to take liquid during this
period, but most people would not drink milk as that is deemed to be a
food. Clearly if someone has health problems (e.g. they are diabetic) it
is unwise to go without food for this period. For most people, however,
it is perfectly healthy to do this.

https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=151


Contemplation - Day 40

240. As
rust, once arisen,

consumes
the iron on which it forms;

So,
his own deeds lead the

transgressor
to a woeful state.

241. Infrequent
repetition is the rust of scriptures.

Neglect
is the rust of homes.

Indolence
is the rust of beauty.

Heedlessness
is the rust of a guard.

242. Misconduct
is the taint of a woman.

Miserliness
is the taint of a benefactor.

Taints,
are indeed, are all that

is
evil in this world and the next.

243. Worse
than these is the taint of ignorance:

the
worst of all taints.

By
destroying this one taint,

one
becomes taintless, O Bhikkhus.

244. Life
is easy for the shameless

-
impudent as crows -

backbiting
and presumptuous,

arrogant
and corrupt.

245. Life
is hard for the modest

-
always seeking purity -

detached
and unassuming,

clean-living
and reflective.

Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 5:00 PM
https://course.org/campus/mod/book/view.php?id=152


Thursday - Introducing Equanimity

1. Introducing Equanimity

Please
note: Today and tomorrow we will introduce the final brahmavihara
practice: upekkhā, or Equanimity. As mentioned earlier, this practice
relies on a firm foundation in the other brahmaviharas. You may wish to
print these details and download the audio file for use beyond this
course when you have deepened your experience of mettā, karuna and
mudita. We thought it was important to complete the sequence so that the
framework is clear. If you are relatively new to the brahmaviharas
please continue to work on Appreciative Joy Meditation in your main
sitting.

THE PRACTICE OF EQUANIMITY

“I will abide pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with equanimity,

Likewise, the second, third and fourth quarters.

So above and below, around and everywhere, and to all as if to myself.

I will abide pervading the entire world with equanimity,

Abundant, exalted, immeasurable; without hostility or ill-will.”

Upekkhā
or Equanimity is the fourth of the brahmavihāras or Divine Abodes. In
many ways it is the culmination of the other three practices as it adds
even-mindedness to the object of meditation. When we practice the other
three brahmavihāra meditations we are still aware of the separate
qualities of the different subjects on whom we choose to focus. In the
upekkhā bhāvanā (Cultivation of Equanimity) we actively work at
impartiality. This is not a dull indifference, but rather an acceptance
of the true nature of all beings. We are working in a spirit of goodwill
rather than lack of concern. Bhante Gunaratana has written that
“Equanimity as a divine abiding is the socially directed, meditative
state marked by the transcending of approval and resentment towards
living beings, the sublime attitude of impartiality which looks upon all
beings equally without preferences or discrimination.”

When
we work with the different people and other beings in our meditation we
still see them in relation to ourselves. We form opinions about how
they measure up against what we are. Even when we are directing
lovingkindness or compassion to another being it is difficult to escape
the idea that they and we are fixed individuals. We have a tendency to
enshrine our own self-image and to attach semi-permanent labels on
others. “I am a good meditator sending out lovingkindness even to this
person who is difficult.” “I am unsuccessful at radiating compassion
even to people who are downtrodden.”

What
we begin to realize is that we are making various assumptions that do
not really bear much scrutiny. This fixed I is not really that stable,
is it? We change our views (including that of our self-worth) constantly
and our needs, moods and motivations are in constant flux. Similarly we
start to understand that others too are not really made up solely of
those qualities with which we might at first label them. Can anyone
really be labelled hateful? In every aspect of their lives?
Consistently? By all others as well as ourselves?

The
Cultivation of Equanimity begins by breaking down some of these views
of self and others. It is an acknowledgement that we habitually put
ourselves at the centre of the universe and interpret the value of
everyone and everything solely in relation to this world-view. We fix
the personalities and characters of others on the basis very often of
little more than our own projections. Once we have categorised the
individual we can group him or her in terms of people whose company we
crave or avoid. Each time the value judgement is made in relation to
ourselves as final arbiter. We see ourselves as solid, stable judges.

In
truth of course we are not so capable of certainty. Even a cursory
glance back over a few years will tell us that our views change, our
physical body constantly changes, our relationships alter over time, our
aspirations and political outlook modifies. In short we are pretty
uncertain of what this ’self’ is actually made. If we look around us we
can see that others are in a similar position. Who are they today? Are
they the same as five years ago, or five minutes ago? If this constant
flux is so readily apparent to us can we really feel confident that our
judgement about others and ourselves is so very sound?

When
we begin to practise the Cultivation of Equanimity we see that our
strategies of ego protection are flawed. In a system where everything
changes there is little point in hurriedly assigning labels even to
ourselves - and certainly not in relation to others about whom we know
even less. We begin to see the interconnectedness of life and its
non-separate nature. If we can cultivate an attitude of even-mindedness
we can begin to see into the true nature of things because we are no
longer blinded by our prejudices and desires.



Thursday - Introducing Equanimity

1. Introducing Equanimity

Please
note: Today and tomorrow we will introduce the final brahmavihara
practice: upekkhā, or Equanimity. As mentioned earlier, this practice
relies on a firm foundation in the other brahmaviharas. You may wish to
print these details and download the audio file for use beyond this
course when you have deepened your experience of mettā, karuna and
mudita. We thought it was important to complete the sequence so that the
framework is clear. If you are relatively new to the brahmaviharas
please continue to work on Appreciative Joy Meditation in your main
sitting.

THE PRACTICE OF EQUANIMITY

“I will abide pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with equanimity,

Likewise, the second, third and fourth quarters.

So above and below, around and everywhere, and to all as if to myself.

I will abide pervading the entire world with equanimity,

Abundant, exalted, immeasurable; without hostility or ill-will.”

Upekkhā
or Equanimity is the fourth of the brahmavihāras or Divine Abodes. In
many ways it is the culmination of the other three practices as it adds
even-mindedness to the object of meditation. When we practice the other
three brahmavihāra meditations we are still aware of the separate
qualities of the different subjects on whom we choose to focus. In the
upekkhā bhāvanā (Cultivation of Equanimity) we actively work at
impartiality. This is not a dull indifference, but rather an acceptance
of the true nature of all beings. We are working in a spirit of goodwill
rather than lack of concern. Bhante Gunaratana has written that
“Equanimity as a divine abiding is the socially directed, meditative
state marked by the transcending of approval and resentment towards
living beings, the sublime attitude of impartiality which looks upon all
beings equally without preferences or discrimination.”

When
we work with the different people and other beings in our meditation we
still see them in relation to ourselves. We form opinions about how
they measure up against what we are. Even when we are directing
lovingkindness or compassion to another being it is difficult to escape
the idea that they and we are fixed individuals. We have a tendency to
enshrine our own self-image and to attach semi-permanent labels on
others. “I am a good meditator sending out lovingkindness even to this
person who is difficult.” “I am unsuccessful at radiating compassion
even to people who are downtrodden.”

What
we begin to realize is that we are making various assumptions that do
not really bear much scrutiny. This fixed I is not really that stable,
is it? We change our views (including that of our self-worth) constantly
and our needs, moods and motivations are in constant flux. Similarly we
start to understand that others too are not really made up solely of
those qualities with which we might at first label them. Can anyone
really be labelled hateful? In every aspect of their lives?
Consistently? By all others as well as ourselves?

The
Cultivation of Equanimity begins by breaking down some of these views
of self and others. It is an acknowledgement that we habitually put
ourselves at the centre of the universe and interpret the value of
everyone and everything solely in relation to this world-view. We fix
the personalities and characters of others on the basis very often of
little more than our own projections. Once we have categorised the
individual we can group him or her in terms of people whose company we
crave or avoid. Each time the value judgement is made in relation to
ourselves as final arbiter. We see ourselves as solid, stable judges.

In
truth of course we are not so capable of certainty. Even a cursory
glance back over a few years will tell us that our views change, our
physical body constantly changes, our relationships alter over time, our
aspirations and political outlook modifies. In short we are pretty
uncertain of what this ’self’ is actually made. If we look around us we
can see that others are in a similar position. Who are they today? Are
they the same as five years ago, or five minutes ago? If this constant
flux is so readily apparent to us can we really feel confident that our
judgement about others and ourselves is so very sound?

When
we begin to practise the Cultivation of Equanimity we see that our
strategies of ego protection are flawed. In a system where everything
changes there is little point in hurriedly assigning labels even to
ourselves - and certainly not in relation to others about whom we know
even less. We begin to see the interconnectedness of life and its
non-separate nature. If we can cultivate an attitude of even-mindedness
we can begin to see into the true nature of things because we are no
longer blinded by our prejudices and desires.



Friday - The Practice of Equanimity Meditation

1. The Practice of Equanimity Meditation

INSTRUCTIONS

Allow
at least 20-30 minutes for the session if possible. Try to spend an
equal amount of time in each of the five sections of the meditation. We
will begin by suggesting comparative phrases to be used during the
particular sections. As in previous brahmavihāra practices we are
looking for a real understanding of the ideas behind the phrases rather
than a mechanical repetition of them. Once we have fixed the procedure
in our heads we will no longer require these phrases. We are working at
balancing our responses to the individuals on whom we focus during the
meditation. An explanation of each of the subjects of our meditation is
given under the individual sections.

Set up your meditation posture and gently close your eyes. Concentrate for a few moments on the breathing.

Section One



THE NEUTRAL PERSON

(Someone
about whom you currently have no strong feelings either for or against.
In effect someone about whom you already have equanimity.)

Picture the Neutral Person in front of you. Note how you are neither drawn toward him or her nor does he or she repulse you.

Reflect:

“This Neutral Person, like all beings, suffers and seeks the end of suffering…

This Neutral Person, like all beings, is ever changing - physically, emotionally…

This Neutral Person, like all beings, is not a permanent fixed entity…”

Move
on now to compare the Neutral Person individually with each of the
other subjects of this meditation. Begin by picturing the Neutral Person
and the Friend in front of you.

Reflect:

The Friend

“Just as this Neutral Person suffers and seeks the end of suffering…

So too does this Friend….

Just as this Neutral Person is ever changing…

So too is this Friend…

Just as this Neutral Person is not a fixed permanent entity…

Neither is this Friend…”

The Boon Companion (A Joyful Person)

“Just as this Neutral Person suffers and seeks the end of suffering…

So too does this Boon Companion….

Just as this Neutral Person is ever changing…

So too is this Boon Companion…

Just as this Neutral Person is not a fixed permanent entity…

Neither is this Boon Companion…”

The Hostile Person

“Just as this Neutral Person suffers and seeks the end of suffering…

So too does this Hostile Person….

Just as this Neutral Person is ever changing…

So too is this Hostile Person…

Just as this Neutral Person is not a fixed permanent entity…

Neither is this Hostile Person…”

Oneself

“Just as this Neutral Person suffers and seeks the end of suffering…

So too do I….

Just as this Neutral Person is ever changing…

So too am I…

Just as this Neutral Person is not a fixed permanent entity…

Neither am I…”

Section Two



The Friend

(Someone whom you know well and are aware of the complexity of his/her character.)

Picture the Friend in front of you and reflect:

“This Friend, like all beings, suffers and seeks the end of suffering…

This Friend, like all beings, is ever changing - physically, emotionally…

This Friend, like all beings, is not a permanent fixed entity…”

Allow the image of the Friend to be joined one at a time by:

The Neutral Person

The Boon Companion

The Hostile Person

Oneself

In each case reflect:

“Just as this Friend suffers and seeks the end of suffering…

So too does….

Just as this Friend is ever changing…

So too is…

Just as this Friend is not a fixed permanent entity…

Neither is…”

Section Three



The Boon Companion

(Someone
who is regularly joyful, happy, welcoming. The first impression we have
of the person is joy. Boon Companion is a term used in the
Visuddhimagga to describe someone who embodies joy, who is a joy to be
around, who exudes joyfulness.)

Picture the Boon Companion in front of you and reflect:

“This Boon Companion, like all beings, suffers and seeks the end of suffering…

This Boon Companion, like all beings, is ever changing - physically, emotionally…

This Boon Companion, like all beings, is not a permanent fixed entity…”

Allow the Boon Companion to be joined one at a time by:

The Neutral Person

The Friend

The Hostile Person

Oneself

In each case reflect:

“Just as this Boon Companion suffers and seeks the end of suffering…

So too does….

Just as this Boon Companion is ever changing…

So too is…

Just as this Boon Companion is not a fixed permanent entity…

Neither is…”

Section Four



The Hostile Person

(Someone who is regularly difficult, unfriendly, obstructive. The first impression we have of this person is dislike.)

Continue as before. Begin by focusing on the Hostile Person and gradually allow this person to be joined by:

The Neutral Person

The Friend

The Boon Companion

Oneself

In each case reflect: “Just as… So too…”

Section Five



Oneself

Continue as before. Begin by focusing on yourself and gradually allow yourself to be joined by:

The Neutral Person

The Friend

The Boon Companion

The Hostile Person

In each case reflect: “Just as… So too…”

https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=410


Audio Player - Equanimity Meditation

Guided meditation files are intended to illustrate how to structure your
own sittings. Once you are familiar with the format you should try to
meditate without listening to these audio files.

Upekkhā - Equanimity Meditation

 


-20:48
 

Last modified: Saturday, 29 September 2018, 4:19 PM
https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=153


Contemplation - Day 41

246. He
who destroys life,

who
speaks falsely,

who
takes what is not given,

who
goes to other men’s wives,

247. who
is addicted to alcohol -

such
a man digs up his

own
root in this world.

248. So
know, my good man,

evil
deeds are difficult to control:

don’t
let greed and wickedness

drive
you to protracted misery.

249. People
give according

to
their faith or their regard.

Envious
of the food and drink given to others,

day
and night one attains no peace.

250. But
one in whom this is fully cut off,

uprooted
and destroyed,

day
and night attains peace.

251. There
is no fire like lust,

no
grip like hatred,

no
net like delusion,

no
river like craving.

Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 5:02 PM
https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=155


Contemplation - Day 42

252. The
faults of others are easily seen,

our
own faults are difficult to see.

Like
chaff one winnows another’s faults,

while
concealing our own like a fowler in a hide.

253. Focusing
on another’s faults,

ever
censorious,

his
own defilements grow:

he
is far from their destruction.

254. There
is no track in the sky.

There
is no outside samana.

Mankind
delights in impediments.

The
Tathagatas are free of impediments.

255. There
is no track in the sky.

There
is no outside samana.

No
conditioned thing is stable.

There
is no instability in Buddhas.


256. Not
by passing hasty judgements

does
one become just:

the
wise investigate

both
right and wrong.

257. Judging
- impartially -

according
to the Dhamma,

one
is a guardian of Dhamma

and
a just person.

Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 5:03 PM
https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=221


Chant Workshop 6 (optional)

1. Chant Workshop 6

The
meditation practices we are using are drawn from the Theravāda
tradition which bases its teachings on the words of the Buddha and his
early followers as recorded in the Pāli Canon. Pāli is a written
liturgical language and is often also used for traditional chants that
many meditators find helpful as part of their spiritual practice. During
the course we will introduce a small number of these chants in Pāli or
in translated English form.

Over
the weeks the individual chants build to form the text for a puja, or
dedication ceremony, that some practitioners may wish to use as a way of
periodically rededicating their meditation practice. Please use the
chants if you find them helpful; please ignore them if you prefer.

CHANT 6: Frequent Recollections

Note: This English chant is related to the practice of vipassanā
and the realistic attitude to life that is demanded of the serious
practitioner. It reminds us of the transient nature of life and of our
opportunity to use the present moment skilfully.

Five Subjects for Frequent Recollection

I am of the nature to age,

I have not gone beyond ageing.

I am of the nature to sicken,

I have not gone beyond sickness.

I am of the nature to die,

I have not gone beyond dying.

All that is mine, beloved and pleasing,

will become otherwise;

will become separated from me.

I am the owner of my kamma,

heir to my kamma,

born of my kamma,

related to my kamma,

abide supported by my kamma.

Whatever kamma I shall do,

for good or for ill,

of that I will be the heir.

Listen to the chant:

 
-0:00

Download link:  https://course.org/mcaudio/c/6-Frequent_Recollections.mp3

Last modified: Thursday, 13 September 2018, 5:05 PM
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Vipassana Fellowship Meditation -27 October - 2 November-Contemplation - Day 29-Day 30-Day 31-Day 32-Day 33-Day 34-Day 35
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Vipassana Fellowship Meditation -27 October - 2 November-Contemplation - Day 29-Day 30-Day 31-Day 32-Day 33-Day 34-Day 35

A Random Image

For
our fifth week we introduce Karuna Meditation, the cultivation of
compassion, and begin to explore one of the central teachings of the
tradition: the Four Noble Truths.

https://course.org/campus/mod/book/view.php?id=126


Saturday - Karuna: Compassion Meditation

1. Karuna: Compassion

COMPASSION

“I will abide pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with compassion,

Likewise, the second, third and fourth quarters.

So above and below, around and everywhere, and to all as if to myself.

I will abide pervading the entire world with compassion,

Abundant, exalted, immeasurable; without hostility or ill-will.”

We
have been working with the first of the brahmavihāra meditations, the
mettā bhāvanā (Development of Lovingkindness). We now begin to look at
the second of these Divine Abodes - karunā, or compassion.

KARUNĀ

“The
world suffers. But most people have their eyes and ears closed. They do
not see the unbroken stream of tears flowing through life; they do not
hear the cry of distress continually pervading the world. Their own
little grief or joy bars their sight, deafens their ears. Bound by
selfishness, their hearts turn stiff and narrow. Being stiff and narrow,
how should they be able to strive for any higher goal, to realize that
only release from selfish craving will effect their own freedom from
suffering?”

- Nyanaponika Thera

DEVELOPING COMPASSION

As
we work to develop the brahmavihāras it is important that we note the
distinctive nature of each. It is comparatively rare these days for
meditators to be introduced to all four brahmavihāra meditations, and
this leads to an unfortunate tendency to merge compassion and
lovingkindness into a single entity. It is, however, important that we
learn the distinctive nature of these different mental states so that we
can work with them effectively.

Compassion
means quite literally to feel with someone. In this particular
meditation we will be looking at the suffering that both others and we
experience, and develop the ability to open our hearts and empathise
totally with that experience.

We
will not be looking to pity those that suffer. Pity is often described
as the near enemy of compassion and can easily be mistaken for it. Pity
arises when we feel sorry for someone.

Compassion
arises when we feel sorry with someone. It is the actual nature of
their suffering that we take onboard and feel with all our heart;
combined with a heartfelt wish that the person will be free from
suffering.

As
our experience of karuna bhāvanā becomes more extensive we will begin
to see the common bond between us all. All our lives are subject to
unsatisfactoriness; we all experience dis-ease and suffering. This
meditation is another strong practice that aims at opening our hearts to
this commonality of experience. It is a form of real open-heart surgery
which can begin to transform our relationships and our motivation.

Some
people find this form of meditation particularly challenging at the
beginning, some may even find it depressing. All of us will find that
the energy is quite different to that we have experienced in mettā
bhāvanā. On occasion we may feel quite down after a session but this
will vary over time as we come to see the true nature of the experience.
Initially if we feel low after a session it can be quite useful to add a
short period of lovingkindness meditation at the end (and particularly
to concentrate on radiating mettā to oneself). Don’t however mix
lovingkindness meditation into the sections of the compassion
meditation. Appreciate their distinctiveness and keep them separate.

INSTRUCTIONS

Set
up your meditation session as before. Your posture should be firm and
your spine erect. Gently close your eyes and sit for a few moments
watching the breath. We will again be working through different sections
of the technique. Ensure that your attention is wholly focused on each
section and that you devote equal time to each. As distractions occur
gently acknowledge them and then return to the object of the meditation.
Remember that in each section we are empathising with the beings who
suffer, not pitying them. During the meditation we are feeling the
reality of their circumstances and the commonality of suffering. Aware
of the suffering, we wish to lift the burden of it.

Section 1



Compassion For Those In Need

Bring
your attention to focus on those who suffer in this world. Feel with
them. Don’t have pity for them. Empathise with their suffering.

Aware of the suffering of …

Those who suffer from the effects of poverty, famine and disease.

People in war-torn countries or without liberty.

The homeless and the addicted.

People racked with grief and loss, filled with despair.

Those with mental or physical illness.

Animals that are malnourished and ill-treated.

Take on that suffering. See it as it is. Feel it.

Section 2



Compassion For Those Who Do Wrong Or Are Hostile To Others

Aware of the suffering of…

Those who behave unskilfully and with malice.

Those driven by anger and resentment.

People who crave power by any means.

Those who choose to inflict pain on others.

Those who are motivated by greed and selfishness.

Their
actions are not the product of a peaceful mind. They are suffering and
will suffer. Take on that suffering. Understand it. Feel it with them.
Remain with their present situation. Experience the suffering they feel
now. Can you feel it unconditionally? Without reservation? Can you hope
for their release from suffering?

Aware of the suffering of…

People who choose to act with hostility to others.

People who direct their anger and resentment at us.

Those who are cynical and dismissive of our actions.

These
are not happy people. Feel their unhappiness. Experience the burden
that their lack of peace, their lack of warmth, causes them. Empathise
with what lies at the root of their hostility. They suffer too.

Section 3



Compassion For Those Who Are Neutral

Aware of the suffering of…

Those about whom we know little.

People who we have treated as functionaries, without consideration.

People who have neither brought us joy nor pain.

Those whose opinions and views we do not consider.

As
sentient beings they too are subject to suffering. Because we have not
considered or are unaware of the complexity of their lives, we may have
ignored their suffering. We may, to some extent, have dismissed their
very humanity. Can we empathise with their suffering now? Their lives
too are subject to sadness, worry, and frustration. They too will face
the loss of their loved ones and experience all the other vicissitudes
of life. Can we feel with them?

Section 4



Compassion For Those Who Are Dear To Us

Aware of the suffering of…

Our families and friends.

The people about whom we care deeply.

As
people our friends and family suffer too. Can we feel their suffering?
Can we take it on? Sometimes we may have been unaware of the detail of
the suffering of those dear to us, but we must all be aware of the
suffering that illness, death and uncertainty can bring to those about
whom we care deeply. Can we feel the grief, the loneliness, the worry,
the fear? Can we do this without reservation?

Section 5



Reflecting on Compassion For Ourselves

We
suffer too. Sometimes we may choose to mask that suffering to the
outside world and ourselves. See the suffering, the unsatisfactoriness
that lies deep within. Feel the hurt and anger that resides there.
Accept it as part of our make-up. We have felt the common suffering of
other beings. We are not exempt from this suffering. Witness its
reality; bring heartfelt awareness to the possibility of overcoming it.

At
the end of the session sit for a few moments and come back to the
breath. This form of meditation can be very taxing and you may feel that
you would like to add a short mettā bhāvanā section before ending. Show
yourself some kindness and gentleness.

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Audio Player - Compassion Meditation

Guided meditation files are intended to illustrate how to structure your
own sittings. Once you are familiar with the format you should try to
meditate without listening to these audio files.

Karuna - Compassion Meditation

 


-18:52
 


Last modified: Saturday, 29 September 2018, 3:56 PM
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Contemplation - Day 29

173. Replacing
by good

the
evil one has done,

one
illumines the world

as
the moon free of cloud.

174. Blind
is the world;

few
see clearly.

Like
birds escaping a net,

those
who see are blissful.

175. Swans
fly the path of the sun.

Psychics
fly through space.

Defeating
Mara and his host,

the
wise flee the world.

176. There
is no evil that cannot be done

by
the liar who has violated one precept

and
is indifferent to the world beyond.

177. The
miserly do not go to heavenly realms;

fools,
certainly, do not value generosity.

A
wise one rejoices in giving,

and
by that act is happy hereafter.

178. Better
than reigning over the earth,

better
than going to heaven,

or
sovereignty over the universe;

the
fruits of Stream-entry excel all of these.

Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 3:46 PM
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Sunday - Empathy not Pity

1. Empathy not Pity

Compassion
is not the same as pity, which can have a rather paternalistic flavour -
a sort of looking down on “those poor unfortunate people”. That
attitude tends to have a distancing effect. Whilst we genuinely feel
sorry for them, the fact of seeing them as separate and different
prevents our wholehearted engagement with them. Pity has a sort of
hopeless and despairing quality about it - or at best resignation. It is
a wringing of the hands; a more fortunate outsider looking in on
another’s situation. Often this may occur if there is a subconscious
denial of how we too suffer. Compassion is full engagement with the
reality of the situation and can perhaps be thought of as a
communication rather than a one-sided transaction. It relies on there
being a total honesty; an empathy that arises from the recognition that
none of us are so very different. The form of suffering,
unsatisfactoriness, dis-ease varies for each of us but dukkha is
universal and this common experience, once recognised, permits empathy
to arise.

Compassion
is empathy with the person who is suffering and a wish that they be
free from it - a deep understanding of their experience and an ability
to share in it with them. When we talk about taking on the suffering it
is not in the sense of unburdening the other person - it is a direct
connection that we feel to that person’s plight. It is very important
that we can get closer to the experience of others: in daily life we are
constantly faced with images of suffering people, whether it be in news
programmes or elsewhere, and we build up barriers to it. The practice
of karuna bhāvanā opens our heart to the connections that we have with
all other beings; it is part of a training that permits wholehearted
engagement and a realisation that we are not separate and cannot close
ourselves off - because that disengagement is also a volitional act that
has unwholesome consequences.

No
one is expected to be able to fully empathize with every other being
from day one. The full realisation of karunā will take sustained work
over a number of years. We have perfected karunā only when it is
inconceivable to us that we would treat any other being in ways that are
not wholly compassionate, in any circumstance.

Quite
often, before coming to a meditation practice, people have faced
tremendously difficult experiences in their lives. They deal with them
in the best way that they can. Perhaps they have found that the only way
to cope was to distance themselves from the source of suffering (or
sometimes from people afflicted by it). Some people feel very guilty
about this; but guilt is not usually a useful response as it is backward
looking and has a tendency to debilitate. Others rationalise that
theirs was the best way of handling an extreme situation at the time…
and they may well be right given that most of us are equipped with
partial understanding and inadequate resources. That was then, and this
is now: when we begin to do spiritual work it is essential that we do
not try to lock our frames of reference in the vice of past experience.
If we have confidence that it is possible to develop positive qualities,
to learn skills and acquire insight - and surely that is why most of us
are treading this path - then we must accept that our response to any
new situation needs to be determined by the best our current levels of
understanding can offer rather than slavishly applying an old and
outmoded stratagem.

We
are not fixed in time; we change, we develop, we grow. Too often people
see anicca (impermanence) as some sort of threat, but it is also a
glorious opportunity. It permits change; it ensures that no two
experiences are exactly alike. The cultivation of the qualities of calm
and insight, through meditation, can ensure we become equipped with
optimal skills and the understanding necessary to handle all of the
situations we will face. In life we are constantly presented with
changing circumstances based, amongst other things, on the outcome of
our intentional acts. Meditation is one way of developing preparedness
for our future commission of only skilful acts of body, speech and mind -
and for pertinent and positive responses to all situations as they
arise.

The
ability to feel compassion is wholly positive. It does not arise from,
and should not engender, a sense of hopelessness. In the context in
which we are working it is simply recognition of the fact of suffering
and an empathy with the experience of the being that suffers. It is an
acknowledgement and connection with the reality of the situation (rather
than a belief that our action on the cushion can improve it). Until we
can empathize with the plight of our fellow beings our ability to act in
the interest of all, including ourselves is impaired. As we develop
compassion, by witnessing and associating ourselves with the reality of
suffering, an awareness of the most effective response to it will arise.
The way of meditation does not preclude us from engaging in concrete
acts to help others; indeed many will find that their inclination to do
so will become stronger. What it does do, however, is heighten our
sensitivity to the experience of suffering that all beings face and
helps to ensure that our responses are determined on the basis of
reality rather than partiality.

Perhaps
one way is to see this way of working is as a normative or corrective
process. Some people will find this manifests in the gradual lowering of
barriers that have been erected over many years and which have resulted
in a hardened attitude to the plight of others. For another group of
meditators it will be more a question of a change of perspective to
ensure that responses are fully felt but proportionate to the situations
encountered. If we are prey to swings of overwhelming, passionate,
emotion then our view is occluded and our ability to function with
concerned skill in the best interest of others and ourselves will be
impaired. We need to care, to feel and to consider; but this should not
result in us becoming debilitated by the magnitude of the pain and
suffering that others experience. As we begin karunā practice, the
outpouring of emotion may sometimes be disproportionate to that which
the situation warrants - and if we are not wary this can sometimes tip
over into self-centred indulgence rather than be indicative of our
empathy with the sufferer. It seems odd that at times we might choose to
gravitate towards the experience of misery or pain but it is actually
fairly common: one only has to consider how so many people are overly
self-critical and live life despairing of ever getting anything right.

No
specific action is required to balance the areas of strength and
weakness; the practice itself will, over time, regulate our responses so
that they are wholly caring and correspond precisely to the needs and
experience of those who suffer. This practice is complemented by work on
the other brahmavihāra: they work in harmony to ensure that we do not
become burdened by the imbalances of disposition most of us exhibit in
one-way or another. If one of the techniques is proving draining it can
be useful to spend some time with another complementary practice. Make
sure that you do not elide practices - it is important that the
different qualities remain distinctive - but feel free to add, for
example, a session of muditā bhāvanā (appreciative joy) to the end of a
karunā session if you find this moderates the drained quality with which
you currently emerge from a session. It may also be useful at times to
vary the order in which the sections are approached.

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Contemplation - Day 30

179. How
can one tempt

the
omniscient Buddha

whose
victory cannot be overthrown;

whom
no adversaries can follow?

180. How
can one tempt

the
omniscient Buddha

who
is unentangled,

and
without craving?

181. The
wise, intent on meditation,

delighting
in the peace of renunciation -

such
mindful perfect Buddhas

even
the gods hold dear.

182. A
human birth is rare,

difficult
is mortal life.

Difficult
it is to hear the Dhamma.

Rare
is the appearance of Buddhas.

183. To
cease from evil, to cultivate good,

to
cleanse one’s own mind:

this
is the teaching

of
the Buddhas.

184. Enduring
patience is the supreme austerity.

Nibbana
is supreme, say the Buddhas.

One
who harms another is no contemplative;

oppressing
others, no renunciate is he .

Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 3:49 PM
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Monday - Recognition, Response, Capacity

1. Recognition,Response, Capacity

Recognition and Response

When
we begin to access karunā there may initially be a reliance on images
and scenes we have not directly experienced. This does not matter too
much because it is the feeling that is evoked which is important.
Cultivating compassion will involve feeling with those at a distance as
well as with those with whom we are more intimate. It can evoke fairly
dramatic feelings. Perhaps sometimes we may need to step back a little
from them and return to mettā practice for a while. In time though we
will be able to accept them fully for what they are. As our compassion
develops we will avoid the pitfalls of self-pity and helplessness and
gain a true understanding of our ability to act. Our motivation will be
informed by our greater sensitivity, empathy and also a finely tuned
sense of proportion.

The
effectiveness of these practices is not dependent on any reciprocal act
or intent from those on whom we focus. Remember that the work we are
doing is to cultivate our own positive mental states - we are not trying
to effect change in anyone else. On a practical level, as our attitudes
change for the better, we will find that many of our daily interactions
are more harmonious than they would otherwise be. This is not because
the other person has changed; but that our approach to the world has
become informed by our experience and often this is perceptible to the
other person.

Take
the practice slowly and gently for now, remembering that there is value
in having the maturity to feel able to utilise mettā instead of karunā
at particular times if the emotions evoked require that. All meditation
is a gradual training and there is never a need to rush at new
techniques. Move forward with new techniques gently and allow yourself
to exercise choice in when to utilise one method over another. It is my
hope that participants will acquire the strength to make such decisions
about their own practice. Recognising the balancing effect of the
different techniques is a skill that will sustain a lifetime’s effective
practice.

If
we live deliberately we can’t help but notice the enormity of the
problems afflicting the world and its inhabitants. Sometimes it seems
that everywhere we look there is suffering and woe and we begin to
despair that the scale of the task of even reducing the amount of
suffering a little bit is simply beyond us.

This
acknowledgement of the pervasive nature of suffering in all its guises
is at the core of the Buddhist path. It is only when we begin to accept
that suffering underpins the lives of all conditioned beings that we are
in any sort of position to begin the second part of the process:
working for relief from all suffering. Often people misunderstand what
the Buddha taught. They see Buddhism as essentially pessimistic and as
unhealthily obsessed with suffering, pain, affliction,
unsatisfactoriness, etc. It is true that those concepts are mentioned
frequently in Buddhist texts, but so too is the methodology to achieve
the complete cessation of all forms of suffering. It can be done. This
is the only reason for following the Buddhist path - for real
liberation.

Like
any physician we have to identify the nature of the disease before
effective surgery can begin. It is not all doom and gloom along the way:
we would not be seeing things accurately if we did not also spend time
noticing the joy and happiness and love that exists in the world. We
must cherish and enjoy these to the full where they arise without losing
sight of their nature. Happiness, joy and love do not need curing, so
this is why our energies are turned to focus on the real reasons that
beings suffer. Once we have identified that for ourselves we can begin
to effect change.

Worry
for the plight of others is not necessarily futile. The fact that we
are concerned about the suffering of people and animals liberates the
potential for acting to overcome it. Unless one decides to take the
ostrich position - which is a choice inevitably resulting in
unsatisfactoriness and more suffering - the task is to act in the world
in ways that can lead to this cessation. We take small steps at a pace
which is manageable and which provides evidence of efficacy along the
way. The difficult and rewarding work that we do in meditation may seem
to be only a small step but its impact can be huge. Through the
realisations and the qualities developed in the time we spend on the
cushion we will have the ability to act only skilfully. With a firm
commitment to sila our actions can bear only kammicly positive (or at
worst neutral) outcomes. In the short term we will reduce the pain we
cause others and bring about greater harmony in our interactions. In the
long term we have the potential to be fully liberated and, importantly,
to help others on towards nibbāna too.

None
of this requires blind faith. After beginning a serious meditation
practice (and especially if we pay attention to sila by integrating the
precepts into our lives) we shall begin to uncover bits of evidence
confirming the validity of the operation we are carrying out. These
glimpses will be of no use to anyone else but they will be conclusive
enough to spur us on because they arise from our own experience. They
provide the validation that is needed when we meet difficulties. This
confidence in the truth and effectiveness of the Buddha’s path grows
stronger as we continue to practice. It cannot be grafted on, picked up
from books, or willed into existence but will arise through determined
effort and dedication to our meditation practice.

Although
some people are well aware of the suffering that exists in the world
they feel it will overwhelm them and their immediate response is to back
away. Will the worry really cease by choosing to disengage? Would it
not be preferable to work with the advantages they already have (i.e. an
understanding of the nature of the problem) to make things better for
those who suffer? If we have demonstrated the ability to recognise the
needs of others and a willingness and aptitude for empathy and goodwill
then we can use these very powerful qualities.

How
is it done? Slowly, gradually, and without running before we can walk.
In the Mettā meditation instructions I said that it was important, at
least at this early stage, not to pick people you hate in the difficult
person category. It is the same with the sections here. Ultimately we
will be able to show compassion for all beings, but most of us have a
long way to go before this will be possible. Those we may think of, in
western terms, as psychopaths are probably not a good subject with which
to begin. Start with the little guys and work up to those who present
you with more difficulty.

How
can we know that people who cause harm are themselves suffering or will
suffer? Granted, some of the suffering may not be readily apparent to
us - but perhaps some of this is because we treat them as
one-dimensional archetypes rather than as rounded individuals. If we see
someone as the epitome of aggression or malice we are unlikely to take
much notice of what else they are and do - perhaps they are somebody’s
father, somebody’s wife, someone stressed out in the workplace, someone
consumed by guilt and fear. We must also acknowledge that at times we
can successfully project a confident bright image to others when
internally we may be falling apart. What makes you think that these
people are any different? Who can accurately assess the stress, strain,
disappointment, worry, anger, fear, which any other being suffers
inside? Remember always that we are not looking to like the person or
condone their actions in any way. What we are recognising is that
although on many levels they are different to us and the other beings
with whom they share the world they also have things in common. They are
subject to craving, subject to anger, subject to delusion. However much
they may try to force their will on the world they cannot ultimately
maintain happiness - it is against the natural laws within which we all
must work. Just like us they are subject to sickness, subject to ageing,
subject to death. Regardless of how much they may try to distance
themselves from this they will have to face it.

Sometimes
people feel that wrongdoers do not suffer from their actions; but it is
often salutary to look to our own experience. Have you ever truly got
away with anything? Even if the outside world may think you have? I am
not merely speaking of being pricked by conscience now and again. What
about the health implications, the relationship implications, the
self-respect implications, of each unskilful action we have carried out?
In our harming of others we harm ourselves - the payback may take a
while to develop, but it always comes.

Do
not expect to be able to feel compassion or lovingkindness at this
stage for each and every being. There would be no point in working with
these practices at all if you could do this now. Perfection takes some
time. If you have the faintest glimmer of one of these qualities towards
any individual being then you have the capacity to develop that
quality. It is not easy but it is worth it on both a mundane and a
spiritual level.

Honouring our current capacity


Many
people find that working on Compassion Meditation takes a lot out of
them initially. Balancing this with Meditation on Joy, a technique we
shall look at shortly, or Lovingkindness Meditation can be very
beneficial. Allow yourself the freedom to work with the different
techniques as you see fit. Don’t slog on resenting a particular teaching
or technique. It is better that you simply treat it as inappropriate
for your needs at this time and return to it later. If we force
ourselves through grizzly sessions we are likely to abandon the exercise
completely. Instead, commit yourself to a regular time for your
sittings and then adapt them to fit your needs. It is better, though, to
retain your space each day for this work - it’s too easy otherwise to
regularly skip sessions completely. If you feel unable to do a formal
sitting then spend the time reading Dhamma books or in reflection.

We
all have different needs at different times. Reading Dhamma texts can
be pretty useful in order to awaken a degree of faith in what we are
doing. If we have access to the experience and enthusiasm of other
meditators that too can be of help. Others rely heavily on extending
their periods of mindfulness into the rest of the day, and find that
this allows them to tune-in better when they actually arrive at their
formal sitting. Some of us who have developed a more devotional bent
spend time awakening faith through reflecting on the qualities of the
Buddha - but this would seem alien to many.

Whilst
we should guard against rigidity in our practice there is a basic
requirement to commit to regular periods of meditation. However if
circumstances mean we miss sessions we simply have to accept that this
has happened and resolve to try and stick to them from now on. There
isn’t really any place for guilt in this scenario. We’re living in the
present rather than regretting missed opportunities. Hopefully as we
progress the value of the different styles will become apparent, and we
will be able to use them skilfully to balance our sessions. There will,
however, always be ups and downs.

Experiment
with the techniques we are using. If you hit a rocky patch have a look
again at how you construct your meditation sessions. Maybe alternating a
couple of techniques would help provide a balance. On some days you
could work in a freer way with the individual sections within a
technique - or abandon the sections altogether and see how the mind
reacts to that. Nothing is fixed in the approach we are taking. I hope
to outline traditional techniques clearly, but there are many ways in
which they can be modified and yet still have useful results. Give them a
fair trial as they are outlined, but then use your own judgement about
your particular needs.

The
beautiful passage that follows was written by the late Ven. Nyanaponika
Thera a German Buddhist monk who spent most of his life in Sri Lanka:

“It
is compassion that removes the heavy bar, opens the door to freedom,
makes the narrow heart as wide as the world. Compassion takes away from
the heart the inert weight, the paralysing heaviness; it gives wings to
those who cling to the lowlands of self.

Through
compassion the fact of suffering remains vividly present to our mind,
even at times when we personally are free from it. It gives us the rich
experience of suffering, thus strengthening us to meet it prepared, when
it does befall us. …

Beings,
sunk in ignorance, lost in delusion, hasten from one state of suffering
to another, not knowing the real cause, not knowing the escape from it.
This insight into the general law of suffering is the real foundation
of our compassion, not any isolated fact of suffering.

Hence
our compassion will also include those who at the moment may be happy,
but act with an evil and deluded mind. In their present deeds we shall
foresee their future state of distress, and compassion will arise.

The
compassion of the wise man does not render him a victim of suffering.
His thoughts, words and deeds are full of pity. But his heart does not
waver; unchanged it remains, serene and calm. How else should he be able
to help?

May
such compassion arise in our hearts! Compassion, that is a sublime
nobility of heart and intellect which knows, understands and is ready to
help.

Compassion that is strength and gives strength: this is the highest compassion. “

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Contemplation - Day 31

185. Not
insulting, nor harming;

disciplined
within the rules,

moderate
in eating, secluded in abode,

intent
on high attainments:

this
is the teaching

of
the Buddhas.

186. Not
by a shower of gold coins

does
contentment arise:

of
little sweetness and great pain

are
sense pleasures.

187. Understanding
this, the wise

take
no delight even in heavenly pleasures:

the
disciple of the Supreme Buddha

delights
in the destruction of craving.

188. Driven
by fear,

humans
seek refuge

in
mountains and forests,

in
groves and tree shrines.

189. No
secure refuge is found there;

by
resorting to such a refuge

comes
no release from suffering:

they
are not the refuge supreme.

Last modified: Thursday, 13 September 2018, 4:58 PM
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Tuesday - Four Noble Truths

1. Four Noble Truths

THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS

The Buddha said:

“It
is through not understanding, not realizing four things that I,
Disciples, as well as you, had to wander so long through this round of
rebirths. And what are these four things? They are:

The Noble Truth of Suffering

The Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering

The Noble Truth of the Extinction of Suffering

The Noble Truth of the Path that leads to the Extinction of Suffering

As
long as the absolutely true knowledge and insight regarding these Four
Noble Truths was not quite clear in me, so long was I not sure that I
had won that supreme Enlightenment which is unsurpassed in all the world
with its heavenly beings, evil spirits and gods, amongst all the hosts
of ascetics and priests, heavenly beings and men. But as soon as the
absolute true knowledge and insight as regards these Four Noble Truths
had become perfectly clear in me, there arose in me the assurance that I
had won that supreme Enlightenment unsurpassed.

And
I discovered that profound truth, so difficult to perceive, difficult
to understand, tranquillising and sublime, which is not to be gained by
mere reasoning, and is visible only to the wise.

The
world, however, is given to pleasure, delighted with pleasure,
enchanted with pleasure. Truly, such beings will hardly understand the
law of conditionality, the Dependent Origination of everything;
incomprehensible to them will also be the end of all formations, the
forsaking of every substratum of rebirth, the fading away of craving,
detachment, extinction, Nibbāna.

Yet there are beings whose eyes are only a little covered with dust: they will understand the truth.”

(-
from Digha Nikāya 16, Samyutta Nikāya LVI.11, Majjhima Nikāya 26,
translated and compiled by Ven. Nyanatiloka in The Word of the Buddha,
BPS, Kandy.)

https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=133


On Lovingkindness and Compassion (Video)

Andrew speaks about the difference between Lovingkindness and Compassion.

Last modified: Thursday, 13 September 2018, 4:59 PM
https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=134


Contemplation - Day 32

190. Going
for refuge to the Buddha,

the
Dhamma and the Sangha,

seeing
with wisdom

the
Four Noble Truths:

191. Suffering,
its cause,

its
cessation,

and
the Noble Eightfold Path

leading
to its cessation.

192. This
is indeed a secure refuge;

this
is the refuge supreme.

In
seeking such refuge

comes
release from all suffering.

193. It
is hard to find a thoroughbred man,

such
a one is not found everywhere:

but
where such an enlightened one exists

the
people thrive happily.

194. Sweet
is the arising of Buddhas,

sweet
is the teaching of the Dhamma,

sweet
is the unity of the Sangha,

and
sweet is the discipline of the united.

195. Reverence
those worthy of reverence,

-
the Buddhas and their disciples -

who
have transcended all impediments,

and
passed beyond sorrow and grief:

196. One
who reveres such peaceful

and
fearless Ones

has
merit beyond measure.

Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 4:14 PM
https://course.org/campus/mod/book/view.php?id=135


Wednesday - The Truth of Dukkha

1. The Truth of Dukkha

THE FIRST NOBLE TRUTH

The Truth of Dukkha

Dukkha
is usually translated as suffering. It is one of the three
characteristics of life in conditioned realms such as ours. It can also
be rendered as unsatisfactoriness, anguish, dis-ease, pain, misery,
conflict, and ill depending on the context in which we are using it.

The
Buddha’s first sermon after he became Enlightened concerned itself
solely with the formulation of the Four Noble Truths and they are the
essence of the teaching. They are often misunderstood and this is where
some see Buddhism as a pessimistic or nihilistic belief system. Nothing
could be further from the truth. True, the Buddha identified the
unsatisfactoriness that underlies all conditioned phenomena; but he also
showed us a Path that leads to its cessation.

Many
people baulk at the idea that life is suffering or that our lives are
inherently unsatisfactory. Can’t we simply say that it would be better
to look on the bright side and concentrate instead on what is
pleasurable in our lives? We could do that but we would be falling into a
trap. It is not simply a question of choosing to look on the positive
rather than the negative side. If we look deeply we will see that
underpinning almost every happiness is a tinge of sadness or
unsatisfactoriness. The reverse does not really stand scrutiny - It is
simply not the case that all unhappiness is tinged with joy and
contentment.

The
Buddha is traditionally known as the supreme surgeon, an unrivalled
healer. His method involves diagnosing the illness, seeking its cause,
considering the removal of the problem and finally applying the remedy.

If
we spend time denying the underlying reality of our existence - running
away from the facts - we will not reach liberation. Of course it would
be foolish to see life as only consisting of suffering and hardship. We
can all see that there are genuine times of happiness, pleasure,
contentment, and satisfaction in our lives. What the Buddha asks us to
do is to look very closely at the true nature of our experience.

Even
most moments of happiness are tinged with the sadness that they are
finite. Our loving relationships are informed by the understanding that
they will end. If we look closely we will see that underpinning
everything that we hold dear is an impermanent reality - our denial of
which brings suffering. We choose to go against the laws of nature and
try to cling on to things which we know by their nature must change. We
grasp greedily for those things we perceive as bringing us happiness
only to find that the salve they provide is at best temporary.

The
Buddha has shown us a Way that is better than any of this. It leads to
the complete end of suffering. It is not a recipe for despondency and
hopelessness but rather a Way to complete liberation.

https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=136


Contemplation - Day 33

197. Happily
we live -

friendly,
amidst the hostile.

Among
the hostile

we
dwell without hostility.

198. Happily
we live -

cured,
amidst the afflicted.

Among
the afflicted

we
dwell without affliction.

199. Happily
we live -

content,
amidst the avaricious.

Among
the avaricious

we
dwell without avarice.

200. Happily
we live -

free
from impediments.

We
shall feed on rapture

like
Radiant Gods.

201. Victory
breeds enmity,

for
the conquered suffer.

The
peaceful live happily,

discarding
victory and defeat.

202. There
is no fire like craving,

no
loss like hatred,

no
affliction like the aggregates,

and
no bliss higher than Peace.

Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 4:16 PM
https://course.org/campus/mod/book/view.php?id=137


Thursday - Dukkha’s Origin

1. Dukkha’s Origin

THE SECOND NOBLE TRUTH

The Noble Truth of the Origin of Dukkha

“What, now, is the Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering?

It is craving, which gives rise to fresh rebirth, and, bound

up with pleasure and lust, now here, now there, finds

ever-fresh delight.”

-Digha Nikāya 22

This craving takes three forms:

Sensual craving is the desire for enjoyment through
any of the sense doors. When we perceive a visual object, sound, odour,
taste, or touch something, if it is deemed to be pleasant we approve of
it, cherish it, and cling to it. When it passes we lust after it or
regret its passing. When we perceive through the same senses something
that is unpleasant we are repelled and seek to get rid of the object and
avoid it in the future. We also do this with mind objects:
consciousness, perceptions and feelings. Instead of accepting the true
nature of these things we either try to hold on to them and ‘own’ them -
when their very nature ensures they are temporary, fleeting, - or we
try to avoid them and wish them away - when instead we should see them
as a part of our lives. Only when we cease to attach the labels of
pleasant, unpleasant or indifferent to the feelings that arise in
relation to these objects will we cease the process of clinging.

Craving for existence is the desire for continued or
eternal life. The delusive non-materialistic notion of an eternal Ego
(or Self, or Soul) which persists independently of our body. Because we
cling both to other objects and to some notion that we are a permanent
unchanging Soul, we act in ways that will cause suffering. By clinging
to this notion of Self we distort our relationship to others and to the
process of becoming. It is through this craving that we fix ourselves in
a process which results in future births with their attendant sorrows,
pain, grief, and despair.

Craving for self-annihilation is the delusive
materialistic notion of a real Ego that is annihilated at death (and
which therefore has no causal relationship with the time before or after
death). If we choose to believe that everything ends with our death
again, by our actions, we distort our relationship to others and the
world. We are essentially shoring-up our own Ego by claiming that life
has only the value that we determine it should have: our world-view is
what is deemed to matter. We will be tempted to behave in ways that are
selfish, arrogant and hedonistic. Our actions will be determined by how
much we like or dislike things, and we will therefore miss the
opportunity to see these things for what they really are. In a real
sense we become the centre of the universe - a universe about which we
care little about, it being a mere extension of our own finite Ego.

“Whatever kind of ‘feeling’ one experiences -
pleasant, unpleasant or neutral - if one approves of, and cherishes the
feeling, and clings to it, then while doing so, lust springs up; but
lust for feelings means ‘clinging’, and on clinging depends the ‘process
of becoming’; on the process of becoming depends ‘birth’ and dependent
on birth are ‘decay and death’, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and
despair. Thus arises the whole mass of suffering.”

- Majjhima Nikāya 38

https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=138


Contemplation - Day 34

203. Hunger
is the worst disease.

The
aggregates are the worst affliction.

Understanding
this as it is,

the
wise realize Nibbana, the bliss supreme.

204. Health
is the highest reward.

Contentment
is the greatest of riches.

The
trustworthy are the best kin.

Nibbana
is the highest bliss.

205. Tasting
the sweetness

of
solitude and tranquillity,

free
of fear and stain one becomes,

drinking
deep the joy of the Dhamma.

206. It
is good to see the Noble,

to
live among them is bliss.

Not
seeing fools,

one
is ever happy.

207. The
company of fools

brings
longterm suffering.

The
company of fools,

as
of an enemy, is always painful.

Association
with the wise is happy:

like
a meeting with kin.

208. Associate
with one who is intelligent,

wise,
learned, determined,

committed,
and noble.

Follow
the virtuous and discerning:

as
the moon, the starry path.

Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 4:17 PM
https://course.org/campus/mod/book/view.php?id=139


Friday - Extinction of Dukkha

1. Extinction of Dukkha

THE THIRD NOBLE TRUTH

The Noble Truth of the Extinction of Dukkha.

“What,
now, is the Noble Truth of the Extinction of Suffering? It is the
complete fading away and extinction of this craving, its forsaking and
abandonment, liberation and detachment from it.”

- Digha Nikāya 22

THE FOURTH NOBLE TRUTH

The Noble Truth of the Path that leads to the Extinction of Dukkha.

The Path is one between two extremes:

“To
give oneself up to indulgence in Sensual Pleasure, the base, common,
vulgar, unholy, unprofitable; or to give oneself up to
Self-mortification, the painful, unholy, unprofitable: both these two
extremes, the Perfect One has avoided, and has found out the Middle
Path, which makes one both to see and to know, which leads to peace, to
discernment, to enlightenment, to Nibbāna.”

                      - Samyutta Nikāya LVI, 11

                    This Path is known as the Noble Eightfold Path.

                    https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=140


                    Contemplation - Day 35

                    209. Choosing
                    what should be avoided,

                    not
                    choosing what should be pursued,

                    giving
                    up the goal, one who seeks pleasure

                    later
                    envies those who exert themselves.

                    210. Don’t
                    subscribe to likes and dislikes.

                    Both
                    separation from the liked,

                    and
                    the presence of the disliked,

                    are
                    painful.

                    211. Hold
                    nothing dear:

                    for
                    separation from it pains one.

                    No
                    bonds are there for one

                    free
                    from likes and dislikes.

                    212. From
                    preference arises grief,

                    from
                    preference arises fear.

                    Freed
                    from preference one is

                    free
                    from grief and fear.

                    213. From
                    affection arises grief,

                    from
                    affection arises fear.

                    Freed
                    from affection one is

                    free
                    from grief and fear.

                    214. From
                    attachment arises grief,

                    from
                    attachment arises fear.

                    Freed
                    from attachment one is

                    free
                    from grief and fear.

                    Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 4:19 PM
                    https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=220


                    Chant Workshop 5 (optional)

                    1. Chant Workshop 5

                    The
                    meditation practices we are using are drawn from the Theravāda
                    tradition which bases its teachings on the words of the Buddha and his
                    early followers as recorded in the Pāli Canon. Pāli is a written
                    liturgical language and is often also used for traditional chants that
                    many meditators find helpful as part of their spiritual practice. During
                    the course we will introduce a small number of these chants in Pāli or
                    in translated English form.

                    Over the weeks the individual chants build to form the text for a
                    puja, or dedication ceremony, that some practitioners may wish to use as
                    a way of periodically rededicating their meditation practice. Please
                    use the chants if you find them helpful; please ignore them if you
                    prefer.

                    CHANT 5: The Sublime Abodes

                    Note: This English chant is formed of a text that is found several
                    times in the Pāli Canon. It refers to the Buddha choosing to radiate
                    lovingkindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity to all
                    sentient beings - wherever they are. It is, perhaps, an aspiration for
                    all of us to develop that capacity.

                    Brahmavihāra

                    I will abide pervading one quarter

                    with a mind imbued with Lovingkindess.

                    Likewise the second, likewise the third, likewise the fourth;

                    so above and below, around and everywhere,

                    and to all as to myself.

                    I will abide pervading the all-encompassing world

                    with a mind imbued with Lovingkindness:

                    abundant, exalted, immeasurable,

                    without hostility and without ill-will.

                    (repeat for Compassion, Gladness/Appreciative Joy, Equanimity)

                    Click to Play:

                     

                    -3:13

                    Download link: https://course.org/mcaudio/c/5-Brahmaviharas.mp3

                    Last modified: Thursday, 13 September 2018, 5:01 PM
                    comments (0)
                    Vipassana Fellowship Meditation 20 October - 26 October-Contemplation - Day 22-Day 23-Day 24-Day 25-Day 26-Day 27-Day 28
                    Filed under: General, Vinaya Pitaka, Sutta Pitaka, Abhidhamma Pitaka, Tipiṭaka, ಅಭಿಧಮ್ಮಪಿಟಕ, ವಿನಯಪಿಟಕ, ತಿಪಿಟಕ (ಮೂಲ)
                    Posted by: site admin @ 5:17 pm
                    Vipassana Fellowship Meditation 20 October - 26 October-Contemplation - Day 22-Day 23-Day 24-Day 25-Day 26-Day 27-Day 28
                    A Random Image

                    20 October - 26 October

                    In
                    this fourth week we continue to focus mainly on Mettā (lovingkindness)
                    Meditation. This is the foundation for the other 3 “sublime abode”
                    practices. If you are able to meditate for more than one sitting each
                    day, please work with Mettā in one session and Mindfulness of Breathing
                    in the other.

                    https://course.org/campus/mod/book/view.php?id=112


                    Saturday - Phrases and Images

                    1. Phrases and Images

                    There
                    are many valid ways to practise mettā bhāvanā including, for example,
                    radiating mettā to members of our families. Another way that is commonly
                    taught involves radiating mettā to the four directions of the compass.
                    Some people also work in a completely unstructured way, being able to
                    radiate mettā to whosoever arises in the mind. This is truly boundless
                    practice.

                    The
                    way that we are working has the advantage for some people of not being
                    tied to particular individuals but allows the flexibility to include
                    almost anyone. It is based on the method outlined by Buddhaghosa in the
                    Visuddhimagga (written in Sri Lanka in the 5th Century) and allows
                    people the freedom to place individuals into each category so that they
                    can work at a level that is suitable for them. This means that if, for
                    example, someone has a very difficult relationship with a parent or
                    relative they are not forced to work on radiating mettā to them until
                    they are ready to do so - or until their practice has developed
                    sufficiently to enable them to do so. Not everyone, unfortunately,
                    enjoys a wholesome relationship with his or her family. The categories
                    we are using already allow those who wish to include family members to
                    work in that way - I know that I used to radiate mettā to my father
                    regularly in the benefactor section and also work with other family
                    members from time to time in each of the other sections.

                    A
                    colour-based method is also sometimes used: representing lovingkindness
                    with a warm colour is the most usual way. It may be useful for those
                    who have a keen visual sense. I would caution against allowing the
                    imagery to become over-elaborate: in real terms a colour (gold, for
                    example) is not the same as kindness. We are straying off into the realm
                    of metaphor, association and approximation rather than seeing what is
                    present. If you do work in this way try not to become dependent on the
                    imagery - you are only trying to connect with the feeling of mettā and
                    then allowing that to be shown towards others. Once any tool has done
                    its job it is no longer useful. This is not creative visualisation - in
                    the sense of trying to make things happen by thought power - it is more
                    the expression of your love and kindness directly towards another being.
                    We are not actively trying to change anyone but to allow ourselves to
                    offer kindness freely and generously to the beings on which we focus.

                    Phrases A Hindrance?

                    With
                    the phrase-based approach that we are utilising it is important not to
                    worry too much about the formality of the structure. Use the phrases
                    only if they have meaning for you and improve your ability to tap into
                    the resource of lovingkindness. If you have an alternative way of doing
                    this that is wonderful. I would caution about abandoning the sectional
                    structure, though, as it is so easy to end up luxuriating in the more
                    blissful aspects of the practice without facing up to those areas which
                    are more challenging. The structure I have provided is traditional, but
                    there are other alternatives - like working in the four directions, or
                    through particular groups of individuals.

                    The
                    important thing is that we maintain a practice that has enough
                    consistency to ensure that we do not neglect any area. We need to ensure
                    that we continue to radiate mettā to those of whom we approve and those
                    who are more difficult; to the people close to us and those from whom
                    we feel distant.

                    Sometimes
                    the phrases are difficult to work with because of their superficial
                    similarity to affirmations in modern western culture Affirmations are
                    normally seen as effecting change in the outside world - the old
                    Cosmopolitan Magazine view that “You can have it all!” if only you are
                    incredibly upbeat and positive about it. This does not square with the
                    philosophy with which we are working. We are grounded by the fact of
                    dukkha - that the nature of conditioned things is inherently
                    unsatisfactory or broken. It would be futile to ‘look on the bright
                    side’ because that would be deluding ourselves and would prevent us
                    working towards the release from suffering.

                    What
                    we can do is work on those areas of our psyche which are deficient in
                    some respect, further developing qualities which change our attitude to
                    the beings with whom we interact so that by our actions we create less
                    suffering. It is entirely practical and realistic. There are
                    indisputable good qualities that we can all develop with the right
                    amount of determination and solid effort. We are not trying to change
                    anybody else but rather our own attitude to others; thus allowing us to
                    operate less egotistically, more altruistically. The cultivation of
                    these qualities - kindness, compassion, joy in the happiness of others,
                    equanimity - helps us overcome the usual self-view where we are at the
                    centre of the universe and everything else must alter itself to be in
                    concord with us. When we have this healthier - more realistic -
                    relationship to others we will be more inclined to act skilfully and
                    less selfishly. We will act informed by our interconnectedness, our
                    non-separate nature.

                    Dukkha
                    needs to be recognised fully and this can be very difficult for many
                    people. It is the antithesis of the feel good philosophies and what many
                    of the newer religious movements offer. By accepting its reality we can
                    begin to operate in ways that mean our actions bring maximum happiness
                    and minimum suffering. It is only when we re-orientate ourselves to this
                    view and begin to base our actions on it that we will work with any
                    degree of urgency.

                    If
                    the nature of the phrases used in constructing your mettā meditation
                    section are a barrier to your practice then there are two options: One
                    is to change the phrases to something which has more meaning for you,
                    something which has a truth and resonance in your particular case. The
                    second option is to work without phrases altogether. If, in any of the
                    sections, you find it easy to ‘tap in’ to that quality of Lovingkindness
                    without any of these formal phrases, or by using images, you can begin
                    to spread that real experience of Lovingkindness outward through the
                    other sections. For many people it is possible to move away entirely
                    from the phrases fairly early on.

                    I
                    had enormous resistance to mettā meditation for a while (especially
                    when it seemed to be a group ‘love bombing’ session). I used to think
                    that antipathy to mettā practice was a male thing; that it just took us a
                    lot longer to work in any area where the emotions were uppermost. I
                    recognise now that this is not necessarily the case: many women also
                    have difficulty with this way of working too.

                    It
                    is better, if you are able, to simply memorise the order of the
                    sections and then to construct your own phrases or images. The script
                    itself needs to be personalised because its only purpose is to allow us
                    to connect with the feeling of lovingkindness that exists already within
                    each of us. We then work with gentle determination to share that
                    kindness with others and ourselves.

                    In
                    the initial sittings most people will need the help of the phrases,
                    images or memories to ‘tap in’ to the quality of mettā that we are
                    trying to radiate. For some people images work better than aphorisms but
                    whatever we use can be discarded once we have identified the pure
                    feeling and are able to offer it unconditionally to at least some of the
                    beings on whom we focus.

                    There
                    will be gradual changes in attitudes and actions because of the
                    practice which will allow greater harmony, less fear, more tranquillity.
                    Within the practice itself you may find that particular individuals no
                    longer fit the sections you originally planned for them (Mr Nasty may
                    not be so difficult after all and Ms Neutral may seem a real person
                    rather than a cipher). We will not, through our practice, have
                    occasioned any change in them, of course, but only in our own outlook
                    and attitudes. The mettā bhāvanā practice, like all meditation
                    techniques, is about developments within the practitioner rather than
                    the transformation of others. The attitudinal spin off from this in
                    daily life means that we treat people better, understand them more, and
                    so fosters harmonious relationships that cause less suffering to those
                    with whom we interact.

                    Don’t
                    worry about the exact form that the meditation takes as laid down in
                    the outline. It is the general principles that matter. Some people find
                    the phrases very useful but to others they are a hindrance. If they are a
                    barrier, then use something else as an alternative. Simple phrases
                    like, “Be well, be happy” are fine if you want something less complex.
                    Any phrases will become redundant as you become more used to the mettā
                    bhāvanā. The sections too can be altered (some people also find
                    reversing them useful) but the idea should always be to work towards
                    inclusion - Long term it would not be a good idea to omit ‘difficult’
                    people or sections, though initially this may be necessary.

                    The
                    general idea is that we connect to a resource that is already within us
                    - real love and kindness - and work at developing our ability to share
                    that with others. If you currently experience difficulties with several
                    of the sections then begin with the section that feels most comfortable
                    to you. If you cannot identify any feeling of mettā at present then try
                    working with this exercise that can act as a useful preliminary
                    practice:

                    Sit
                    for a few moments remembering a time when the particular person you are
                    focusing on (maybe yourself, a friend or a relative) was happy or
                    contented or peaceful. Picture the scene that produced it in some detail
                    and then narrow the attention to the feeling that the person is
                    experiencing in that setting. Perhaps warmth, wellness, happiness.
                    Notice too what is absent: conflict, worry, pain. Look at the quality of
                    the experience and recognise that it is these moments that we would all
                    wish to enjoy. Retain that memory of actual harmony and happiness. Try
                    to stay with the essence of the experience - that moment of pure
                    happiness or contentedness.

                    Let
                    the actual scene fade but try to retain contact with the feeling that
                    it evoked. Begin now to work with the other sections of the mettā
                    bhāvanā practice - the sections that seem least difficult at first.
                    Don’t now try and remember scenes but rather focus on the wish that the
                    quality that you have just experienced through memory can be shared with
                    the individuals. If you need to, between the different sections,
                    reconnect with the memory and the associated feeling before continuing.

                    Soon
                    you will be able to work without setting up your meditation in this
                    way. You will get a familiarity with the feeling of lovingkindness and
                    have a wish to share that with others. Some sections may come easier
                    than others but in time you will be able to radiate mettā to everyone.

                    The
                    mettā practice is structured in the way that it is to allow us to
                    develop the ability to share lovingkindness with people and other
                    sentient beings - whoever or wherever they may be. It is a practice on
                    non-partiality: we can truly be loving and caring to all. Never forget
                    these practices are all bhāvanā - they are about development and
                    cultivation and are part of a gradual path; we are NOT expected to be
                    able to leap from never having worked in this way to expertise in the
                    space of a few weeks, months or even years. We must take it at the pace
                    that is right for us - we all work with different sets of conditions.

                    https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=113


                    Contemplation - Day 22

                    129. All
                    tremble at the rod, all fear death.

                    In
                    empathy with others,

                    one
                    should not strike,

                    nor
                    cause others to strike.

                    130. All
                    tremble at the rod, all hold their lives dear.

                    In
                    empathy with others,

                    one
                    should not strike,

                    nor
                    cause others to strike.

                    131. One
                    seeking happiness,

                    taking
                    a rod to another

                    who
                    seeks happiness,

                    finds
                    no happiness hereafter.

                    132. One
                    seeking happiness,

                    without
                    taking a rod to another

                    who
                    seeks happiness,

                    finds
                    happiness hereafter.

                    133. Speak
                    harshly to no one

                    for
                    harsh speech will rebound.

                    Angry
                    speech is painful,

                    and
                    overwhelming when returned.

                    134. In
                    silencing oneself,

                    like
                    a broken gong,

                    one
                    approaches Nibbana:

                    for
                    no animosity is found.

                    Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 1:44 PM
                    https://course.org/campus/mod/book/view.php?id=114


                    Sunday - Sections and Subjects

                    1. Sections and Subjects

                    SECTIONS AND SUBJECTS

                    Mettā,
                    and the other brahmavihāra qualities with which we will work in the
                    coming weeks, should only be directed to living people and other
                    sentient beings. The reason for this lies in the very different way that
                    the Buddhist tradition views death and impermanence. We will look at
                    the Buddhist concept of anattā later when we begin to explore vipassanā
                    forms of meditation. Anattā is the Pāli word for not-Self or
                    Soullessness and is a central tenet of Buddhism. As with all theories in
                    Buddhism, it is not necessary to accept anattā through blind faith, as
                    evidence of its veracity (or otherwise) will emerge directly through our
                    meditation practice. Unlike most other belief systems and religions,
                    Buddhism suggests that we do not have a Soul or Self that is unchanging
                    and permanent. In view of this, it would not be appropriate to direct
                    feelings of kindness or compassion towards a being that can no longer be
                    said to exist in any recognisable or personalised form. If we were to
                    try to do that, we would need to fix our view of who the person had been
                    in a particular moment of time, thus negating another demonstrable fact
                    - that of impermanence. It would almost be like creating a partial or
                    fictionalised account of who that person had been, and artificially
                    stopping time, in order that we could relate to him or her. At that
                    point our practice would have lost its foundation in reality. Buddhist
                    practice always remains firmly with ‘what is’ rather than being
                    speculative: we therefore direct mettā to sentient beings as they exist
                    now, rather than desperately trying to cling to images of them as they
                    have been in the past or may be in the future.

                    In
                    popular Buddhism in Theravada countries (and, to some extent, in the
                    Pāli Canon through later additions to the Khuddaka Nikāya) rituals and
                    practices have emerged which seek to transfer merit to the departed.
                    From a doctrinal point of view this is problematic; although it
                    undoubtedly fulfils a sociological need for those who have recently lost
                    a loved one. This later idea of Transference of Merit is quite
                    different from the mettā bhāvanā practice that we are now undertaking:
                    mettā bhāvanā is described regularly in the very earliest suttas of the
                    Pāli Canon and its authenticity is acknowledged by all major schools of
                    Buddhism.

                    In
                    practice, most of us will tend to choose from a small repertoire of
                    people for those sections that require closer knowledge of the
                    individuals (good friends, benefactors, etc.). It is useful to decide on
                    whom you are going to focus before beginning the sitting. Try to rotate
                    the groups of people to whom you direct mettā, so that a single person
                    does not become an archetype (i.e. the embodiment or symbol) for a
                    particular quality. It is certainly not a good practice to always focus
                    exclusively on the same person as difficult; we have to permit the
                    possibility of changes in our attitude to each individual and fixing the
                    same person as a problem disallows this flexibility. Direct mettā
                    towards a different person in the difficult category in your next
                    sitting. Rotate the groups of people - we don’t need to choose someone
                    new every time, but try not to always associate the same person with one
                    section.

                    OURSELVES

                    The
                    preliminary reflection of the mettā bhāvanā practice is often found to
                    be difficult at first. Reordering the sections is one approach to this
                    difficulty for some people. Another method would be to spend some time
                    focusing on what is good in you. What are the qualities you like in
                    yourself? How have you helped? What contributions have you made? When
                    were you happiest? This ‘positive remembrance’ can enable us to feel
                    that we are, indeed, worthy of Lovingkindness. There are aspects of
                    everyone’s personality and actions which are worthy of praise, worthy of
                    celebration (just as there are the other aspects which may be blocking
                    our ability to radiate mettā to ourselves). A period of using this tool
                    prior to the mettā bhāvanā may be helpful. When you recollect the
                    incidents of happiness, of worth, of success, it is not the detail that
                    we are interested in retaining and connecting with, but the emotion of
                    that moment. That split second of pure warmth in the integrity of that
                    particular incident. This is the quality we need to recognise in order
                    that we can thereafter radiate it during the meditation practice itself.

                    It
                    is interesting that people so often find the section devoted to
                    themselves the most difficult. Sometimes our self-image has been damaged
                    and we feel unworthy of receiving kindness or we may even feel
                    embarrassed at the supposed vanity of spending time working on ourselves
                    when we could be helping others. The Buddhist way does not permit the
                    neglect of our own well-being. It does not believe in sacrificing
                    anyone, including ourselves, for the good of another - because that
                    would be tantamount to wishing damage and suffering upon us and is
                    unskilful action based on wrong view. All sentient beings are worthy of
                    lovingkindness and all wish to be free from suffering and, of course, we
                    are sentient beings too. This is why it is important to try to ensure
                    that equal attention is given to each of the sections used in this
                    practice. Try to spend as much time on those people to whom mettā flows
                    easily as on those who currently present some sort of block. With steady
                    but balanced effort there will be a falling away of any barriers.

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                    Contemplation - Day 23

                    135. As
                    the cowherd’s rod

                    drives
                    cattle to pasture,

                    so
                    age and death

                    drive
                    out the life of beings.

                    136. A
                    fool commits evil

                    without
                    realising.

                    Witless,
                    his deeds torment him,

                    like
                    one burned by fire.

                    137. One
                    who takes the rod

                    to
                    those unarmed,

                    offending
                    the inoffensive,

                    soon
                    meets one of ten states:

                    138-140. Acute
                    pain, disaster,

                    physical
                    injury, serious illness,

                    madness,
                    trouble from authorities,

                    grave
                    charges, loss of family, or of wealth,

                    the
                    burning of his home by ravaging fire.

                    Upon
                    dissolution of the body,

                    such
                    a fool is reborn in hell.

                    141. Not
                    nakedness or matted hair,

                    nor
                    dirt or fasting;

                    Not
                    lying on the ground,

                    nor
                    dust and ash

                    or
                    sitting on one’s heels;

                    None
                    of these can purify one

                    who
                    still has doubts.

                    142. Though
                    finely dressed

                    if
                    one is living the holy life

                    -
                    poised, calm, restrained,

                    having
                    laid aside the rod -

                    he
                    indeed is a true brahman,

                    a
                    mendicant, a bhikkhu.

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                    Monday - Benefactor and Friend

                    1. Benefactor and Friend

                    THE BENEFACTOR

                    The
                    benefactor section need not necessarily be someone older than us - but
                    it often is the case that the people from whom we have learnt most or
                    who have helped us in significant ways tend to be older. Whoever you
                    choose should be someone to whom you are grateful and perhaps would wish
                    to emulate in at least one aspect of their lives. This could be a
                    teacher (spiritual or otherwise), a parent or someone else within your
                    community for whom you have great respect. If there is no-one at close
                    range then perhaps you can radiate mettā towards someone whose renown
                    and reputation is brought to you through a cathode ray tube. The world
                    is full of people who enrich our lives in some way - perhaps you could
                    radiate mettā to people who have brought about social or cultural
                    changes from which you and others have benefited.

                    Just
                    one point to note: mettā is always directed to sentient beings, so if
                    one thinks of using the government or a charity as a benefactor one
                    should actually direct the mettā to individual politicians/members of
                    these groups rather than at an abstract institution which is not
                    sentient.

                    A GOOD FRIEND

                    In
                    terms of people in our immediate circle there is no need for any
                    withholding of love where it already exists. Sometimes people, new to
                    this form of meditation, think there is some virtue in pulling back from
                    sharing lovingkindness and other positive qualities with loved ones and
                    dearest family members. Rather than operating such a lowest common
                    denominator approach it would be far better to try to raise the other
                    subjects of your meditation session to the same level. Think of it as a
                    topping-up of lovingkindness rather than a bottoming-down. Work for
                    equanimity throughout each of the practices but on the basis of
                    increasing the flow of these positive qualities to all beings rather
                    than robbing Peter to pay Paul. We all have the capacity for the
                    unconditional giving and receiving of these pure qualities. It takes
                    some work to be able to share them equally but it will come in time.

                    The
                    advice not to direct mettā initially to someone to whom you are
                    sexually attracted concerns the way in which it is likely to complicate
                    matters. When we are sexually attracted to another person love, of the
                    pure sort, can easily be confused with all those other feelings such as
                    lust, the need for possession and control, ownership, jealousy, etc. As
                    we are beginning a new practice we try to keep it as simple and
                    straightforward as possible. In time we will be able to include all
                    sentient beings with our meditation - including our sexual partners -
                    but that takes a little more experience if we are to avoid the pitfalls.
                    It may seem a little artificial in these initial stages to exclude
                    someone about whom we feel a great deal but it is generally seen as
                    inadvisable to work with them until we are able to radiate mettā in an
                    even fashion towards the diverse beings with whom we are currently
                    working. This is a temporary stage in our training - those people are
                    worthy of mettā too - but the feelings that arise may be too complex and
                    difficult to handle until we have developed greater clarity and are
                    able to discern what is mettā and what is not. As we begin this practice
                    it is wisest to work without extremes, neither focusing on people who
                    arouse sexual feelings in us nor people who cause us to feel intense
                    negative feelings, such as hate or loathing. We must ensure that we can
                    radiate unconditional lovingkindness to all of the beings, in each of
                    the sections, before moving on to more difficult work - this is a
                    gradual training.

                    https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=117


                    Contemplation - Day 24

                    143. Where
                    in this world is one

                    so
                    restrained by humility

                    that
                    he averts reproach

                    as
                    a thoroughbred averts the rod?

                    144. As
                    a thoroughbred touched by the rod,

                    be
                    energetic and determined.

                    By
                    conviction and purity,

                    by
                    effort and concentration,

                    investigating
                    the truth,

                    rich
                    in knowledge and virtue,

                    -
                    mindful -

                    one
                    overcomes suffering.

                    145. Irrigators
                    channel water,

                    fletchers
                    straighten arrows,

                    carpenters
                    shape wood.

                    The
                    virtuous control themselves.


                    146. Why
                    laughter? Why joy?

                    for
                    this world is burning.

                    Enveloped
                    in darkness

                    will
                    you not seek light?

                    147. Behold
                    this body:

                    a
                    beautiful image -

                    a
                    mass of wounds constructed,

                    infirm,
                    demanding,

                    all
                    impermanent, all unstable.

                    Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 1:47 PM
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                    Tuesday - Neutral and Difficult

                    1. Neutral and Difficult

                    NEUTRAL PEOPLE

                    The
                    neutral person represents a challenge for many meditators but there are
                    people whom we tend to ignore in daily life. Often they are people who
                    we see as functionaries rather than as rounded individuals with similar
                    needs to our own. These may even be people we have worked with for years
                    but with whom we never meaningfully interact. The ‘grey’ people will
                    inevitably become a little less so when we pay attention to them. It is
                    unusual for particular individuals to inhabit this section for long.

                    Sometimes
                    the neutral section seems hardest because it is difficult to feel
                    entirely neutral about someone with whom we truly engage. If you do find
                    that this is the case then it is often an indication that the process
                    is working - as you devote the same degree of effort and good intent
                    towards the person a transformation in your relationship with him or her
                    occurs - so let’s not fret too much about that! It’s beautiful. Others
                    find that neutral people, by definition, are harder to flesh out i.e.
                    they seem less than three dimensional, but with steady work we will all
                    begin to see them as people rather than ciphers. Remember that the
                    neutral section can incorporate people from any area of daily life: they
                    don’t have to be well known to us. People we have barely met or rarely
                    consider are all worthy recipients of our attention in this section. If a
                    natural progression has occurred so that a person no longer seems
                    neutral to you then choose someone else for your next sitting. Unlike
                    with the sections involving friends and difficult people there is a huge
                    supply of neutral people we can choose to direct mettā towards - it’s
                    an opportunity to give more than a second-thought to the many people we
                    habitually overlook.

                    DIFFICULT PEOPLE

                    We
                    sometimes come across people who, no matter what we do, still act with
                    unkindness or animosity towards us. Meditation does not prevent us from
                    trying the more common strategies to tackle these interpersonal
                    problems. If, for example, there is conflict at work then that should be
                    tackled in the conventional manner as well as continuing your
                    meditation. By all means, use any employment procedures that are
                    available to you to ensure that you are treated fairly. Meditation does
                    not stop us engaging in working for peace of mind using other methods.
                    It is amazing how often people are unaware of the hurt they are causing
                    others because they are unable to express their concerns in a
                    constructive (rather than destructive) manner. If you feel secure in
                    your work place, and are strong enough, then broaching the subject with a
                    supervisor may be an option that will help both you and any difficult
                    co-worker to move forward to a better understanding of each other.

                    We
                    have to accept, however, that there is a minority of people who acts in
                    ways that are unskilful and whose behaviour is selfish and
                    inappropriate. These are not happy people - they may be angry for
                    specific reasons or have a multitude of causes for their need to put
                    people down. We cannot directly change them by what we do in meditation,
                    but we can adjust our approach through the qualities that we cultivate
                    in our practice. This will make for more harmonious relations even where
                    the other person is not trying to make any change. Our skilful actions
                    will ensure that the opportunities for conflict and animosity are
                    minimised. It will also ensure that we begin to learn that it is
                    sometimes not worthwhile to take the actions of other people personally:
                    often people act unwisely because they have a generalised anger at the
                    world or the situation they find themselves in. They flail around in all
                    directions or perhaps pick on specific people over whom they have
                    power. This sort of targeting actually has very little to do with us;
                    almost anyone could fill the role of punch bag.

                    In
                    terms of what can be done through meditation: remember that the
                    brahmavihāra practices have a role in these types of situation. If we
                    find it difficult to show unconditional love to this person during mettā
                    practice then it may be a good idea to work specifically on karunā
                    (compassion) practice instead. We will explore this approach shortly.
                    Try to see the person’s life in the round. Be aware of how this person,
                    who is perpetrating this hurt upon you, is also subject to dukkha. She
                    suffers too, and recognising this may enable you to see why she acts in
                    this manner. A person’s suffering does not excuse bad behaviour; but
                    acknowledging it is there can enable us to understand why they have
                    chosen to act the way they have.

                    Do
                    not allow any one individual to block your engagement with the
                    meditation practices. If your relationship with a co-worker is too
                    painful to include in mettā practice, then do not feature her just yet.
                    Continue to build your skills with others and return to consideration of
                    this more problematic person when you feel ready. In daily interaction
                    the best approach is to maintain right speech: always ensure that you
                    are truthful and that your words are designed to help the situation
                    rather than be a weapon of retaliation. We do not have power over the
                    actions that others choose to commit, but we can ensure that ours are
                    always wholesome. Wholesome actions can only produce results that are
                    positive or neutral; this is the way that kamma works.

                    Remember
                    too that it is possible to work with compassion rather than kindness as
                    a preliminary step when we encounter those people for whom we find the
                    idea of giving lovingkindness is too difficult. Approach the individual
                    as a fellow sufferer - whatever they may have done or neglected to do
                    for us. These are lifetime practices and will not be mastered in an
                    instant so we must not allow ourselves to be defeated by labelling
                    particular sections as failed. Build up the work gradually - it is
                    perfectly permissible to spend entire sittings in one section if
                    necessary. Edge forward little by little to accommodate the other
                    individuals and groups but never leap to tackle the impossible.

                    That
                    can wait for now! Deal first with those for whom there is already some
                    empathy and then tackle those who are moderately difficult. The big guys
                    can wait until you feel more ready to give them the balm of
                    lovingkindness. This may take some time but it will be come easier with
                    regular practice.

                    However
                    wronged we may feel by our fellow human beings in their sins of
                    commission and omission the rich practice of not taking things
                    personally can work wonders. Spend time looking at the individuals as
                    rounded people. We have a tendency to pigeon-hole people in terms of the
                    specific acts they have committed against us. Most people are not
                    wholly vindictive or maliciously and often we allow carelessness, errors
                    of judgement and lack of consideration to assume the proportions of
                    heinous crimes. It may not be a particularly poetic phrase, but people
                    screw up. We have all done it ourselves from time to time and there is
                    value in considering where our own actions of body, speech and mind have
                    been less than skilful and the conclusions that others may have drawn
                    from this. I am not preaching equivalence here - our actions are not
                    necessarily of the same magnitude as another’s - but if we can hold on
                    to a realisation and acknowledgement that we too have withheld and
                    deprived; that on occasion we have taken and chosen not to give; or that
                    we have sometimes ignored and disrespected people, we can see how easy
                    it is for us too to become those archetypes which we usually see in
                    others. In a myriad of different ways there is commonality - both with
                    those for whom we currently feel empathy and with those from whom we
                    seek to distance ourselves. It is in the recognition of this that there
                    is an opportunity to develop. The brahmavihāra practices work at a very
                    deep level to achieve this. If we pursue them as a necessary part of our
                    practice we will see that we are not essentially separate. The
                    practices will gradually bear fruit and will enable us to be free from
                    the suffering which clinging to separateness can bring.

                    We
                    only suffer if we choose to take the hostility and indifference
                    personally. Through our developing practice we are more likely to be
                    able to accept that anger and rejection are themselves produced by
                    people who are suffering; these mental states very often have little to
                    do with the people against whom they choose to direct them. We can all
                    accept that at times we have behaved in similar ways (though the
                    magnitude and target may have varied). When we perpetrated these
                    unskilful acts against another no doubt they too suffered from the
                    fallout. As we begin to behave more ethically and mindfully the damage
                    we will cause for others and ourselves will lessen.

                    There
                    is an interesting distinction to be made between the perpetrator of
                    unskilful acts and the recipient of the action. It can sometimes be
                    useful to see them as quite separate: In committing an unskilful act I
                    am generating akusala kamma from which I will see the inevitable result
                    in my own life as vipāka characterised by suffering. The recipient of
                    suffering is reaping the vipāka of his or her own akusala kamma. When we
                    choose to suffer from the barbs that others inflict it may be because
                    we commit the unskilful act of clinging too strongly to our self-image
                    and care too much about our public position.

                    This
                    is, of course, a simplification of the complex theory of kamma but in
                    some circumstances it can be useful to contemplate. Remember that we do
                    not have access to the inner workings of any other person’s mind. We
                    make assumptions about their intentions and their motivation but we
                    cannot know. Similarly outward appearances can be deceptive when it
                    comes to judging whether a perpetrator actually suffers too - kamma
                    always ripens, sometimes immediately and visibly; at other times it may
                    take an age of gnawing stress, ill health and guilt. No one gets away
                    with anything.

                    Once
                    you have become established in the brahmavihāra practices you can
                    adjust the sections as you like, but try to remember to make the
                    technique inclusive of those people to whom you react warmly, are
                    repelled or feel neutral. The method will not be effective if one
                    concentrates purely on those groups and individuals towards whom one is
                    drawn.

                    https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=119


                    Contemplation - Day 25

                    148. Worn
                    out is this body,

                    a
                    nest of diseases, decaying.

                    This
                    foul mass breaks up

                    for
                    life ends in death.

                    149. These
                    dove-grey bones

                    scattered
                    like gourds in autumn.

                    Having
                    seen them,

                    how
                    can one delight?

                    150. A
                    city built of bones,

                    plastered
                    with flesh and blood:

                    home
                    to pride and deceit,

                    aging
                    and death.

                    151. Even
                    lavish majestic chariots wear out,

                    so,
                    this body will grow old,

                    but
                    the Dhamma of the Good endures:

                    thus
                    the Good themselves proclaim.

                    152. An
                    ignorant one

                    grows
                    like an ox:

                    his
                    muscles develop,

                    but
                    not his wisdom.

                    153. Through
                    many births in samsara

                    have
                    I searched in vain

                    for
                    the builder of this house.

                    Repeated
                    birth is indeed suffering.

                    Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 1:50 PM
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                    Wednesday - All Sentient Beings

                    1. All Sentient Beings

                    GROUPS

                    When
                    working with the group sections it is very useful to try and see each
                    group as composed of individuals. If you can see known faces amongst the
                    group that will help you better relate to the entire group. There can,
                    in our initial practice, be the need for an imaginative leap - so
                    knowledge from the media and books can be useful in populating these
                    sections. After a while this approach will be unnecessary as we will be
                    more easily able to feel the mettā and be less partial with our ability
                    to radiate it.

                    Begin by focusing on particular faces or known characteristics and work from there.

                    Sometimes
                    an imaginative leap is required to bring forth the feeling of mettā for
                    those with whom we have had little contact. This may, at the beginning,
                    be evoked by approaching the practice on the basis of remembered events
                    or even of experiences lived vicariously (e.g. through the media of
                    fiction or television).

                    NON-HUMAN BEINGS

                    If,
                    at present, non-cuddly beings such as cockroaches and mosquitoes are
                    too problematic then work with other beings for now. Save them for later
                    when your practice has developed a little further. We all have
                    boundaries beyond which it is difficult to go - but these practices are
                    about development and those boundaries are not permanently fixed.

                    Rats
                    and roaches are difficult for most of us to feel warmly towards -
                    especially if you have to live in close proximity to them! I had a
                    similar response to leeches and snakes (even toy ones had always
                    terrified me as a child) until I realised that it was possible to treat
                    them with kindness even though I might not necessarily like to encourage
                    their sharing of my habitat. It is said that the Lord Buddha gave us
                    mettā bhāvanā as a way of overcoming fear; and our engagement with the
                    practice can even help phobias we may have in regard to creepy crawlies
                    or animals we consider vermin. One way of beginning to appreciate them
                    is to find out more about them - the fascination with how they survive
                    and an understanding of their instincts helps us to see the similarities
                    with our own aspirations and survival instincts. Even a leech wants to
                    be well, wants to be happy… It’s just that a little of my blood may be
                    what helps it achieve that!

                    https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=121


                    Contemplation - Day 26

                    154. Housebuilder,
                    you are seen!

                    No
                    house shall you build again.

                    All
                    your rafters are broken and

                    the
                    ridge-pole is shattered.

                    Attaining
                    the Unconditioned,

                    I
                    achieve the end of craving.

                    155. Neither
                    leading the holy life

                    nor,
                    in youth, acquiring wealth,

                    they
                    grow old like withered cranes

                    beside
                    a fishless pond.

                    156. Neither
                    leading the holy life

                    nor,
                    in youth, acquiring wealth,

                    they
                    lie around regretting,

                    like
                    spent arrows from a bow misfired.

                    157. If
                    you hold yourself dear;

                    then
                    protect yourself well.

                    The
                    wise keep vigil during any

                    of
                    the three watches of the night.

                    158. Establish
                    yourself first in propriety,

                    only
                    then teach others:

                    thus,
                    blameless, the wise shall be.

                    159. As
                    one teaches others,

                    so
                    should one act.

                    Controlled
                    oneself,

                    so
                    should one teach:

                    Training
                    oneself is hardest.

                    Last modified: Wednesday, 7 February 2018, 5:17 PM
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                    Thursday - When There’s No Mettā

                    1. When There’s No Mettā

                    WHEN THERE IS NO FEELING OF METTĀ

                    Focus
                    for a while on someone (or some being) to whom you feel warmly
                    disposed. It need not be a strong feeling; but there is usually someone
                    (or perhaps an animal such as a pet) that you enjoy the company of or
                    admire in some way. It may help to picture particular scenes featuring
                    this person which evoke that feeling of warmth - maybe an incident in
                    which you shared or one which you witnessed and recognised as a time of
                    happiness for that person. Try to relive the scene as clearly as
                    possible through memory. Note the feelings that are evoked in you by the
                    scene and the reaction of the person to the events that are taking
                    place.

                    Bring
                    your attention back to the present moment and call the same person to
                    mind - but as she or he is now. This is probably a more complex picture.
                    If you are aware of any difficulties they are facing then note that. If
                    their image contrasts with the happy incident you have just recalled
                    then note that too. Recognising that this person, like all of us, would
                    prefer to be free of any suffering, worry and fear, take the opportunity
                    to wish them well. You have seen how they react when they are happy;
                    wish that they are able to enjoy that frame of mind again - maybe see
                    their face transformed by the glow of happiness. Offer them whatever you
                    can that will make them happy and contented; allow them the comfort
                    that your kindness can bring. You may wish to use mental phrases such as
                    “be well, be happy” or you may like to see an image such as the gradual
                    transformation of their expression by a smile.

                    When
                    you feel more comfortable about working with that one individual
                    gradually add others to the practice - building up to the several
                    sections we are using. Mettā can sometimes take a while to flow more
                    freely but if we work gradually and start slowly with those to whom we
                    already feel warmly disposed there will be a strengthening of our
                    ability to extend the same hand of kindness to others. This practice is
                    about unconditionally caring about the welfare of all beings. It is a
                    big job and will take practice for this to be feasible… but we can
                    edge forward step-by-step.

                    If
                    lovingkindness cannot be felt and radiated to a particular person can
                    you approach this through another quality? You could try gratitude, or
                    compassion, or respect. Understanding the reasons why we may be blocking
                    the flow of mettā can help us to overcome this inability. Where people
                    may seem grasping and unloving we can sometimes feel able to include
                    them in our mettā practice if we consider them as worthy of our
                    attention, subject to suffering just like us, as three dimensional
                    beings who aspire and make mistakes. If their interactions with us have
                    been cold and formal we can choose to consider the warmth they may share
                    with their immediate family.

                    Another
                    way in which to approach the practice is to initially work with seeing
                    the good in individuals rather than radiating mettā to them. Concentrate
                    on the aspects of the individuals that are good and wholesome. Forgive
                    them their faults where these are apparent. We each have strengths; we
                    each fail. Work through the practice as you would in the mettā bhāvanā,
                    but acknowledging these strengths and allowing the errors and bad
                    judgements to be forgiven.

                    FORGIVENESS

                    Instead
                    of working with mettā can you try working with forgiveness? After
                    working in the following way for a few days gradually reintroduce the
                    mettā practice, gently, beginning with the sections where mettā flows
                    easiest first and building to the full sequence.

                    Forgiveness Practice:

                    Anchor yourself in ānāpānasati first and then begin this new practice.

                    Yourself:

                    Aware of my wish to foster happiness and reduce suffering for myself and for others.

                    Aware too of the imperfections that may hinder this wish.

                    Where my actions have caused suffering. May I be forgiven.

                    Where my actions conflict with those others would choose. May they understand.

                    Grateful that the next in-breath marks a new beginning.

                    Your parent:

                    Aware of my parent’s wish to foster happiness and reduce suffering for him/herself and for others.

                    Aware too of the imperfections which may hinder this wish.

                    Where his/her actions have caused suffering. May I forgive.

                    Where his/her actions are not those I would choose. May I understand.

                    Grateful that the next in-breath marks a new beginning.

                    Your child:

                    Aware of my child’s wish to foster happiness and reduce suffering for him/herself and for others.

                    Aware too of the imperfections which may hinder this wish.

                    Where his/her actions have caused suffering. May I forgive.

                    Where his/her actions are not those I would choose. May I understand.

                    Grateful that the next in-breath marks a new beginning.

                    Your friends…

                    Your parent’s friends…

                    Your child’s friends…


                    and then broaden the sequence to take in others in your circle and
                    community before ending by practising forgiveness towards yourself for a
                    few minutes.

                    https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=123


                    Contemplation - Day 27

                    160. One
                    protects oneself.

                    Who
                    else could be protector?

                    Fully
                    in control, one gains

                    a
                    protector rare indeed.

                    161. The
                    evil he himself has done -

                    self-born,
                    self-caused -

                    grinds
                    down the fool:

                    as
                    a diamond, a hard stone.

                    162. Just
                    as the creeper strangles

                    the
                    sal tree on which it grows,

                    so
                    the fool does to himself

                    what
                    only an enemy would wish.

                    163. Easily
                    done are actions

                    bad
                    and harmful to oneself;

                    difficult,
                    indeed, are actions

                    good
                    and beneficial.

                    164. The
                    fool, who with Wrong View,

                    scorns
                    the Dhamma of the arahats,

                    -
                    the noble and enlightened -

                    like
                    bamboo, he produces offspring

                    for
                    his own destruction.

                    165. By
                    oneself is evil done

                    and
                    is one defiled.

                    By
                    oneself one abstains from evil

                    and
                    attains purity.

                    Purity
                    and defilement are self-owned;

                    none
                    can purify another.

                    166. Never
                    neglect your own welfare

                    for
                    the sake of another, however great.

                    Comprehending
                    your welfare,

                    be
                    intent upon the good.

                    Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 3:38 PM
                    https://course.org/campus/mod/book/view.php?id=124


                    Friday - The Fourth Precept

                    1. The Fourth Precept

                    THE FOURTH PRECEPT

                    musāvādā veramani sikkhā padam samādiyāmi

                    I take the precept to abstain from wrong speech

                    The
                    fourth precept at its most basic is an undertaking not to lie, but it
                    also includes anything which is abusive or designed to hurt others and
                    to exaggeration, gossip and idle chatter. This precept is an agreement
                    to engage only in speech conducive to the good of others and ourselves.

                    The
                    fourth precept, when one enters into it voluntarily and wholeheartedly,
                    is a deep and challenging practice. In many ways it is more difficult
                    to observe than other precepts. So much in our lives revolves around
                    half-truths and small deceptions. We build layer upon layer of deception
                    - based on speech which distorts, which is not founded on fact, which
                    is calculated to cause hurt, which is inconsiderate - and yet we still
                    expect to be able to discern the truth. We can instead determine to
                    check our activities in regard to our self-aggrandisement. We can ensure
                    that others believe us by acting truthfully with consistency. We
                    inflict wrong on others when we deceive them. It is an unkind and
                    uncompassionate act, completely at odds with our desire to cultivate the
                    brahmavihāras. By consistent wrong speech we also blind ourselves - we lose the ability to know what is true and what is not.

                    Correct
                    speech also implies correct listening. If we honour other people and
                    what they tell us we will be able to respond to them appropriately -
                    with honesty and compassion.

                    All
                    of our volitional actions have appropriate results in accord with the
                    law of Kamma according to the Buddhist tradition. If we choose to act
                    skilfully then the results will be good; if we act unskilfully then we
                    can expect an unsatisfactory outcome. The precepts are guidelines as to
                    what constitutes skilful behaviour. They are not commandments that once
                    transgressed label us as sinners or which must be ameliorated by a
                    corresponding good deed. We begin again, in the very next moment, to try
                    to adhere to the precepts because it is skilful to do so. We will all
                    fail to uphold the precepts on occasions. This does not make it right;
                    it’s just how it is. If we intentionally break a precept then we cannot
                    avoid the result of that action. The result may be apparent immediately
                    or arise after a long period, but it will surely occur. Perhaps we may
                    take a decision that, out of compassion for another person, means that
                    we will tell a lie (or soften a harsh truth). This action is composed of
                    two elements: one positive (the compassionate intent), another negative
                    (wrong speech). The outcome of the action will reflect this complexity
                    and be appropriate to it.

                    “Speech
                    endowed with four characteristics is well-spoken, not poorly spoken -
                    faultless and not to be faulted by the wise. Which four? There is the
                    case where a monk says only what is well-spoken, not what is poorly
                    spoken; only what is just, not what is unjust; only what is endearing,
                    not what is unendearing; only what is true, not what is false. Speech
                    endowed with these four characteristics is well-spoken, not poorly
                    spoken - faultless and not to be faulted by the wise.” - Subhasita Sutta

                    If
                    we choose to employ wrong speech for pragmatic reasons then that
                    intention will reflect in the result we experience. We must remember
                    that the Buddha’s teaching is not primarily concerned with making the
                    world an easier place for us - indeed he saw this conditioned world as
                    inherently unsatisfactory - but in the release from all suffering, which
                    comes about through realisation of the Four Noble Truths. On mundane
                    matters, particularly if we do not have the goal of total liberation in
                    mind, there are not always clearly defined verses to quote in support of
                    the actions we have chosen. This is not a religion of the book, and
                    whilst we may extrapolate from the teachings we must continue to test
                    them against our own experience.

                    We can choose to behave ethically:

                    We can refrain from lying

                    - even the small lies and the white lies

                    We can stop exaggerating

                    - exaggeration distorts perception

                    We can act with consideration

                    - considerate speech is beneficial to all

                    We can choose not to gossip or spread rumour

                    - gossip is often untrue and can hurt others

                    We can choose to use our time productively

                    - avoiding idle chatter which brings no lasting happiness

                    We can listen to the needs of others

                    - our response can be open and compassionate

                    https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=125


                    Contemplation - Day 28

                    167. Do
                    not serve low ends,

                    nor
                    live in heedlessness.

                    Do
                    not embrace Wrong View,

                    nor
                    cherish worldly existence.

                    168. Arise!
                    Do not be heedless!

                    Live
                    the Dhamma:

                    the
                    virtuous live happily

                    in
                    this world and the next.

                    169. Live
                    the Dhamma,

                    do
                    not live basely:

                    the
                    virtuous live happily

                    in
                    this world and the next.

                    170. One
                    who sees the world

                    as
                    a bubble, a mirage,

                    is
                    not seen

                    by
                    the King of Death.

                    171. Come,
                    see this world

                    as
                    a bedecked majestic chariot,

                    wherein
                    fools flounder,

                    but
                    the wise remain detached.

                    172. Heedless
                    before,

                    but
                    no longer,

                    one
                    illumines the world

                    as
                    the moon free of cloud.

                    Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 3:41 PM
                    https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=219


                    Chant Workshop 4 (optional)

                    1. Chant Workshop 4

                    The
                    meditation practices we are using are drawn from the Theravāda
                    tradition which bases its teachings on the words of the Buddha and his
                    early followers as recorded in the Pāli Canon. Pāli is a written
                    liturgical language and is often also used for traditional chants that
                    many meditators find helpful as part of their spiritual practice. During
                    the course we will introduce a small number of these chants in Pāli or
                    in translated English form.

                    Over
                    the weeks the individual chants build to form the text for a puja, or
                    dedication ceremony, that some practitioners may wish to use as a way of
                    periodically rededicating their meditation practice. Please use the
                    chants if you find them helpful; please ignore them if you prefer.

                    CHANT 4: The Metta Sutta

                    Note: This sutta is one of the main texts that has informed the practice of Lovingkindness Meditation.

                    Karaniya Metta Sutta

                    karaniyam atthakusalena

                    yam tam santam padam abhisamecca

                    sakko ujuca suju ca

                    suvacco c’assa mudu anatimāni

                    santussako ca subharo ca

                    appakicco ca sallahukavutti

                    santindriyo ca nipako ca

                    appagabbho kulesu ananugiddho

                    na ca khuddam samācare kiñci

                    yena viññu pare upavadeyyum

                    sukhino vā khemino hontu

                    sabbe sattā bhavantu sukhitattā

                    ye keci pānabhutatthi

                    tasā va thāvarā vā anavasesā

                    dighā vā ye mahantā vā

                    majjhimā rassakānukathula

                    ditthā vā yeva additthā

                    ye ca dure vasanti avidure

                    bhuta vā sambavesi vā

                    sabbe sattā bhavantu sukhitattā

                    na paro param nikubbetha

                    nātimaññetha katthacinam kañci

                    byārosanā patighasaññā

                    nāññamaññassa dukkham iccheyya

                    mātā yathā niyam puttam

                    āyusā ekaputtam anurakkhe

                    evam pi sabbabhutesu

                    mānasam bhāvaye aparimānam

                    mettañ ca sabba lokasmim

                    mānasam bhāvaye aparimānam

                    uddham adho ca tiriyañca

                    asambādham averam asapattam

                    tittham caram nisinno vā

                    sayāno vā yāvat’assa vigatamiddho

                    etam satim adhittheyya

                    brahmam etam vihāram idha māhu

                    ditthiñ ca anupagamma silavā

                    dassanena sampanno

                    kāmesu vinneya gedham

                    na hi jātu gabbhaseyyam punareti’ti

                    The Sutta on Lovingkindness

                    One who is skilled in wholesomeness

                    and seeks the calm that is Nibbāna,

                    should act thus:

                    Be sincere to oneself, upright and conscientious,

                    soft of speech, gentle and without conceit.

                    Contented, living simply, peaceful and unburdened,

                    with senses calmed, prudent, modest,

                    and without showing anxiety for support.

                    One should not commit any slight wrong

                    for which the wise might censure one.

                    May all beings be happy and secure,

                    may their hearts be wholesome.

                    Whatever living beings there are -

                    whether mentally feeble or strong,

                    physically long, stout or medium,

                    short, small or large,

                    the seen or unseen; dwelling far or near;

                    those who are born and those yet to be born -

                    may they all, without exception, be happy.

                    Let no one deceive another

                    nor despise anyone whatsoever in any place;

                    nor in anger or ill-will wish harm upon another.

                    Even as a mother would risk her life

                    to protect her only child,

                    so should one cultivate a boundless

                    heart towards all beings.

                    Let thoughts of infinite lovingkindness

                    pervade the whole world -

                    above, below and around -

                    unobstructed, free of hatred or enmity.

                    Whether standing, walking, sitting or lying down,

                    as long as one is awake, such mindfulness

                    should be developed:

                    this, the wise say, is the highest conduct here.

                    Not embracing false views,

                    endowed with virtue and insight,

                    and having given up

                    attachment to sense desires -

                    such a person will not come again

                    to lie in a womb.

                    Play this chant:

                     
                    -2:59

                    Download link: https://course.org/mcaudio/c/4-Metta_Sutta.mp3

                    Last modified: Thursday, 13 September 2018, 4:54 PM
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                    comments (0)
                    REVERT TO PAPER BALLOTS
                    Filed under: General
                    Posted by: site admin @ 5:43 am

                    REVERT TO PAPER BALLOTS 

                    http://www.ballot-integrity.org/images/HB1640_button.gif

                    Push to Bring Back Paper Ballots - Voice - Voice

                    till then

                    NOTE

                    (NO To Elections)

                    The Seattlish Guide to Your Ballot

                    Small Clear Acrylic Ballot Box with Lock

                    Small Clear Acrylic Ballot Box with Lock

                    Voting
                    machines that could be used by up to a quarter of the US electorate on
                    Election Day next year can be hacked.

                    Home - Election Reform Coalition of Pin
                    New concerns about electronic voting machines

                    How Physics Transformed the Polls |


                    email-0565.gif from 123gifs.eu Download & Greeting Card

                    Email: buddhasaid2us@gmail.com

                    Politico-Social Transformation Movement
                    Volcano

                    (PSTMV)

                    NEWS


                    Electoral Reforms

                    Despite the fact that
                    ‘It took EC 4 years to admit that EVMs could be hacked’
                    ,
                    if any one suggests them to revert back to Paper Ballots  the EC
                    questions “What is the Proof you have to say that the EVMs are fraud?”
                    in a typical chitpavan brahminical way.

                    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chitpavan

                    The Bene Israel claim that Chitpavans are also of Jewish origin.

                    Treatment of untouchables under Peshwa rule

                    The Peshwa rule forced untouchability treatment on the Mahars and other communities such as Mang.
                    Specifically, they had to walk with a broom tied to their loincloth to
                    wipe off their foot prints and an earthenware pot tied to their neck so
                    their spit could not fall on the ground thereby polluting the road for
                    upper castes.
                    They were not allowed to move in public places in the mornings or
                    evenings as their long shadows could defile caste Hindus. They were not
                    allowed to read and write.

                    Essay by Mukta Salve on atrocities

                    A 15 year old female student of Jyotiba Phule
                    called Mukta Salve from the Mang community, another untouchable caste,
                    wrote in an essay in 1855 that during Peshwa rule untouchables were
                    often murdered using oil containing toxic red lead
                    and then buried in the foundations of mansions of upper castes.She
                    further wrote that Passing the Talimkhana (local gymnasium) by a Mahar
                    or Mang often resulted in the person’s head being cut off and played
                    with. Those resisting any sanctions could be trampled under an elephant
                    on the grounds of the Peshwa’s palace.[29][30]



                    Battle of Koregaon

                    Many Mahars enlisted in the armies of the British East India Company and served the British in their war against the Peshwas. On 1 January 1818 in the Battle of Koregaon
                    between forces of the East India Company and the Peshwa, Mahars
                    soldiers formed the biggest contingent of the Company force. The British
                    won the battle and this effectively ended Peshwa rule.[29][citation needed][30][31]

                    Role in Indian politics

                    After the fall of the Maratha Empire in 1818, the Chitpavans lost their
                    political dominance to the British. The British would not subsidize the
                    Chitpavans on the same scale that their caste-fellow, the Peshwas, had
                    done in the past. Pay and power was now significantly reduced.

                    Some of the prominent figures in the Hindu reform movements of the 19th and 20th centuries came from the Chitpavan Brahmin community. These included Dhondo Keshav Karve,[32] Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade,[33] Vinayak Damodar Savarkar,[34][35] Gopal Ganesh Agarkar,[36] Vinoba Bhave.


                    Some of the strongest resistance to change came from the very same
                    community. The vanguard and the old guard clashed many times. D. K.
                    Karve was ostracised. Even Tilak offered penance for breaking caste or
                    religious rules. One was for taking tea at Poona Christian mission in
                    1892 and the second was going to England in 1919.[39]

                    The Chitpavan community includes two major politicians in the Gandhian tradition: Gopal Krishna Gokhale,
                    whom Gandhi acknowledged as a preceptor, and Vinoba Bhave, one of his
                    outstanding disciples. Gandhi describes Bhave as the “jewel of his
                    disciples”, and recognised Gokhale as his political guru. However,
                    strong opposition to Gandhi came from the Chitpavan community. Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the founder of the Hindu nationalist political ideology Hindutva,
                    was a Chitpavan Brahmin and several other Chitpavans were among the
                    first to embrace it because they thought it was a logical extension of
                    the legacy of the Peshwas and caste-fellow Tilak.[40]
                    These Chitpavans felt out of place with the Indian social reform
                    movement of Phule and the mass politics of Gandhi. Large numbers of the
                    community looked to Savarkar, the Hindu Mahasabha and finally the RSS. , drew their inspiration from fringe groups in this reactionary trend

                    Anti-Brahmin violence in the 20th century after Gandhi’s assassination


                    After Gandhi’s assassination by Nathuram Godse, a Chitpawan, Brahmins in Maharashtra, became targets of violence, mostly by members from the Maratha
                    caste. The motivating factor for the violence was not love for Gandhi
                    on the part of the rioters but the denigration and humiliation that the Marathas were subjected to due to their caste status.[42][43]

                    In the Patwardhan princely states such as Sangli, the Marathas were joined by the Jains and the Lingayats
                    in the attacks against the Brahmins. Here, specifically, advanced
                    factories owned by the Chitpawans were destroyed. This event led to the
                    hasty integration of the Patwardhan states into the Bombay Province by
                    March 1948 - a move that was opposed by other Brahmins as they feared
                    the Maratha predominance in the integrated province. During early 20th century, the ruler of Kolhapur state, Shahu had collaborated with the British against the Indian freedom struggle - a struggle that was identified with Chitpavans like Bal Gangadhar Tilak.
                    He was also instrumental in shaping anti-brahmin attitude in the
                    non-brahmin communities during that period. This led to great violence
                    against Brahmins in Kolhapur.[44]

                    https://www.huffingtonpost.in/2015/11/28/rss-terrorist-organisatio_n_8670084.html

                    RSS India’s Number One Terrorist Organisation, Says Former Mumbai Police Officer S M Mushrif

                    Volunteers of the militant Hindu group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) participate in a three-day workers camp on the outskirts of Ahmadabad, India, Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015. The RSS, parent organization of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, combines religious education with self-defense exercises. The organization has long been accused of stoking religious hatred against Muslims. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)



                     Here is

                    Proof No. 1

                    Ex
                    CJI Sathasivam committed a grave error of judgement by ordering that
                    the fraud EVMs have to be replaced in a phased manner where the question
                    of replacement in itself is a clear proof that the EVMs could be
                    tampered. Otherwise why they should be replaced.

                    The Ex CEC Sampath suggested for replacement in a phased manner as it cost Rs 1600 crore at that point of time.

                    Now
                    the Murderer of democratic institutions & Master of diluting
                    institutiond (Modi) says it costs more than Rs 9000 crore, hence
                    continue with EVMs.

                    The software and its source is kept secret in the eyes of the voters.

                    The
                    present CJI must dissolve the Central Government and go for fresh polls
                    with Ballot Papers to save Universal Adult Franchise, democracy,
                    liberty, equality and freedom as enshrined in our Marvellous Modern
                    Constitution for the welfare, happiness and peace for all societies.

                    (PSTMV)

                    NEWS


                    Electoral Reforms

                    Despite the fact that
                    ‘It took EC 4 years to admit that EVMs could be hacked’
                    ,
                    if any one suggests them to revert back to Paper Ballots  the EC
                    questions “What is the Proof you have to say that the EVMs are fraud?”
                    in a typical brahminical way.


                     Here is

                    Proof No.1

                    http://www.rediff.com/news/report/ls-election-it-took-ec-4-years-to-admit-that-evms-could-be-hacked/20140314.htm

                    ‘It took EC 4 years to admit that EVMs could be hacked’

                    Proof No 2


                    Proof No 3

                    with reference to

                    http://news.webindia123.com/news/Articles/India/20100828/1575461.html

                    RSS favours paper ballots, EVMs subjected to public scrutiny

                    Proof No 4

                    http://www.pcworld.com/printable/article/id,195328/printable.html

                    Security Analysis of India’s Electronic Voting Machines

                    Proof No 5

                    http://www.deccanchronicle.com/chennai/evms-are-not-foolproof-says-computer-scientist-540

                    Don’t stand on prestige, dump EVMs, save democracy

                    http://www.indianevm.com/videos.php?id=12 Computer Science Prof. of Stanford Univ., Dr. David Dill’s statement on Indian EVMs

                    Proof No 6

                    http://www.indianevm.com/videos.php?id=14 (Videos, expert panel)

                    Election Commission concedes manipulation of EVMs

                    Proof No 7

                    http://www.indianevm.com/blogs/?p=11

                    Don’t stand on prestige, dump EVMs: Naidu

                    Proof No 8
                    http://beta.thehindu.com/news/national/article395509.ece

                    EVM debate rages on, lets get rid of it.

                    Proof No 9

                    http://sowingseedsofthought.blogspot.com/2010/04/evm-debate-rages-on-lets-get-rid-of-it.html

                    Proof No 10

                    http://www.gmanews.tv/story/184694/comelec-chief-no-audit-before-poll-winners-are-proclaimed#

                    ‘EVMs illegally being used for a decade’

                    Proof No 11

                    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/EVMs-illegally-being-used-for-a-decade/articleshow/5601297.cms

                    Linked on USA Today 23 Feb.

                    2010 http://content.usatoday.com/topics/article/Places,+Geography/Countries/India/05zF4kBeFJ47y/1


                    Hackers can ’steal’ ballots from electronic voting machines- 2009 Electronic Voting Technology Workshop


                    Proof No 12

                    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/6-EVMs-recovered-from-scrap-dealers/articleshow/7049951.cms
                     
                    Editorial: E-voting needs a paper trail


                    Proof No 13

                    http://washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/editorial-e-voting-needs-paper-trail
                     
                    Proof No 14

                    Source: http://www.indianevm.com/

                     Download:


                    Proof No 15

                    http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/supreme-court-asks-election-commission-to-implement-paper-trail-in-evms-429689

                    Proof No. 16
                    Proof No 15
                    http://betanews.com/2015/04/17/us-electronic-voting-machines-incredibly-easy-to-hack/

                    US electronic voting machines incredibly easy to hack

                    Electronic-voting-machineJeremy Epstein

                    Electronic voting machines used for US elections between 2002 and
                    2014 would have been extremely easy to hack, according to reports.


                    The AVS WinVote machines were used during three presidential
                    campaigns in the state of Virginia and would receive an “F-minus” for
                    security, with many using “abcde” or “admin” as passwords.


                    Jeremy Epstein, of non-profit organization SRI International, who
                    served on the Virginia state legislative commission and has been
                    investigating the machines for some time, is relieved that they have now
                    been decertified.


                    “The vulnerabilities were so severe, and so trivial to exploit, that
                    anyone with even a modicum of training could have succeeded”, he explained.
                    “They didn’t need to be in the polling place — within a few hundred
                    feet (e.g., in the parking lot) is easy, and within a half mile with a
                    rudimentary antenna built using a Pringles can. Further, there are no
                    logs or other records that would indicate if such a thing ever happened,
                    so if an election was hacked any time in the past, we will never know”.


                    In an interview with the Guardian,
                    Epstein also explained that his conversations with Brit Williams, the
                    original certifier of the voting machines, had been equally concerning.


                    “I said, ‘How did you do a penetration test?’ and he said, ‘I don’t know how to do something like that’”.


                    The Virginia Technology Agency today published a report condemning
                    the WinVote machines, which have also been used for elections in
                    Mississippi and Pennsylvania. It found that the machines ran a version
                    of the Windows operating system that had not been updated since 2004,
                    leaving them susceptible to relatively simple malware and hacking
                    attempts.


                    The news comes at a time when the UK is preparing for its own vote,
                    with the general election scheduled for next month. Although electronic
                    voting, or e-voting will not be available this year, it is reported to
                    be in place for the 2020 election.


                    Published under license from ITProPortal.com, a Net Communities Ltd Publication. All rights reserved.






                      Driven



                      8 months ago

                      anyone this is a surprise to hasn’t been paying attention. http://blackboxvoting.org/ has said this since 2004 and it is not exclusive to this one type of voting machine. It is trivial to exploit any of them.


                      Daniel



                      8 months ago

                      Want to know a funny thing? The Brazilian voting machines already
                      come rigged, so the winner’s are already decided from the get go.



                    • Eric Sleeper



                      8 months ago

                      Once I figured out that non-US citizens and people illegally here
                      (even worse) can vote, I have lost all hope on the election process.
                      Even a worse opinion of the politicians that continue to argue that no
                      real form of ID is required. Once you figure this out, you start to see
                      it’s hacked before even getting to the voting machines.


                      sgrandin



                      8 months ago

                      Been known and reported on for many years. In fact, there have been
                      claims that hacking has already occurred in some elections. But this is
                      capitalistism, where voting is mostly for show, to keep the masses
                      thinking they determine things.


                    • 1




                    • Share ›





                    • korfuntu



                      8 months ago

                      It is WAY past time for Congress to establish a non-partisan
                      standards committee for electronic voting machines, composed of experts
                      from all relevant technology components. This committee would create
                      mandatory security standards that ALL electronic voting machine
                      manufacturers must meet before their products can be used in any
                      election where Federal office holders are elected.
                      And while they are at it, they might start working on hack-proof standards to allow Internet voting.
                      This is the 21st century. It’s time we started acting like it.


















                        Bob Grant
                        korfuntu



                        8 months ago







                        First off, there is no such thing as ‘hack proof’. Anything can be hacked.

                        Second,
                        I wouldn’t trust the government to pick out the right nail to hang a
                        wall calendar, much less “experts” on technology. (I would trust their
                        chosen standards far less)

                    Proof No 17

                    Home



                    http://www.popsci.com/gadgets/article/2012-11/how-i-hacked-electronic-voting-machine




                    How I Hacked An Electronic Voting Machine


                    What do you need to rig an election? A basic knowledge of
                    electronics and $30 worth of RadioShack gear, professional hacker Roger
                    Johnston reveals. The good news: we can stop it.



                    By Roger Johnston (as told to Suzanne LaBarre)
                    Posted November 5, 2012




                    Vulnerability Assessment Team at Argonne National Lab


                    A simple non-cyber attack on an electronic voting machine


                    Roger Johnston is the head of the Vulnerability Assessment Team
                    at Argonne National Laboratory. Not long ago, he and his colleagues
                    launched security attacks on electronic voting machines to demonstrate
                    the startling ease with which one can steal votes. Even more startling:
                    Versions of those machines will appear in polling places all over
                    America on Tuesday. The touchscreen Diebold Accuvote-TSX will be used by
                    more than 26 million voters in 20 states; the push-button Sequoia AVC
                    Voting Machine will be used by almost 9 million voters in four states, Harper’s magazine reported recently
                    (subscription required). Here, Johnston reveals how he hacked the
                    machines–and why anyone, from a high-school kid to an 80-year-old
                    grandmother, could do the same.–Ed


                    The Vulnerability Assessment Team at Argonne
                    National Laboratory looks at a wide variety of security devices– locks,
                    seals, tags, access control, biometrics, cargo security, nuclear
                    safeguards–to try to find vulnerabilities and locate potential fixes.
                    Unfortunately, there’s not much funding available in this country to
                    study election security. So we did this as a Saturday afternoon type of
                    project.


                    Video of 6ClrHPShljM

                    It’s called a man-in-the-middle attack. It’s a classic attack on
                    security devices. You implant a microprocessor or some other electronic
                    device into the voting machine, and that lets you control the voting and
                    turn cheating on and off. We’re basically interfering with transmitting
                    the voter’s intent.


                    We used a logic analyzer. Digital communication is a series of zeros
                    and ones. The voltage goes higher, the voltage goes lower. A logic
                    analyzer collects the oscillating voltages between high and low and then
                    will display for you the digital data in a variety of formats. But
                    there all kinds of way to do it. You can use a logic analyzer, you can
                    use a microprocessor, you can use a computer–basically, anything that
                    lets you see the information that’s being exchanged and then lets you
                    know what to do to mimic the information.


                    I’ve been to high school science fairs where the kids had more
                    sophisticated microprocessor projects.So we listened to the
                    communications going on between the voter, who in the case of one
                    machine is pushing buttons (it’s a push-button voting machine) and in
                    the other is touching things on a touchscreen. Then we listened to the
                    communication going on between the smarts of the machine and the voter.
                    Let’s say I’m trying to make Jones win the election, and you might vote
                    for Smith. Then my microprocessor is going to tell the smarts of the
                    machine to vote for Jones if you try to vote for Smith. But if you’re
                    voting for Jones anyway, I’m not going to tamper with the
                    communications. Sometimes you block communications, sometimes you tamper
                    with information, sometimes you just look at it and let it pass on
                    through. That’s essentially the idea. Figure out the communications
                    going on, then tamper as needed, including with the information being
                    sent back to the voter.


                    We can do this because most voting machines, as far as I can tell,
                    are not encrypted. It’s just open standard format communication. So it’s
                    pretty easy to figure out information being exchanged. Anyone who does
                    digital electronics–a hobbyist or an electronics fan–could figure this
                    out.


                    The device we implanted in the touchscreen machine was essentially
                    $10 retail. If you wanted a deluxe version where you can control it
                    remotely from a half a mile away, it’d cost $26 retail. It’s not big
                    bucks. RadioShack would have this stuff. I’ve been to high school
                    science fairs where the kids had more sophisticated microprocessor
                    projects than the ones needed to rig these machines.


                    Because there’s no funding for this type of security-testing, we
                    relied on people who buy used machines on eBay [in this case the
                    touchscreen Diebold Accuvote TS Electronic Voting Machine and the
                    push-button Sequoia AVC Advantage Voting Machine]. Both of the machines
                    were a little out-of-date, and we didn’t have user manuals and circuit
                    diagrams. But we figured things out, in the case of the push-button
                    machine, in under two hours. Within 2 hours we had a viable attack. The
                    other machine took a little longer because we didn’t fully understand
                    how touchscreen displays worked. So we had learning time there. But that
                    was just a couple days. It’s like a magic trick. You’ve got to practice
                    a lot. If we practiced a lot, or even better, if we got someone really
                    good with his hands who practiced a lot for two weeks, we’re looking at
                    15 seconds to 60 seconds go execute these attacks.


                    I want to move it to the point where grandma can’t hack elections.
                    We’re really not there.The attacks require physical access. This is easy
                    for insiders, who program the machines for an election or install them.
                    And we would argue it’s typically not that hard for outsiders. A lot of
                    voting machines are sitting around in the church basement, the
                    elementary school gymnasium or hallway, unattended for a week or two
                    before the election. Usually they have really cheap cabinet locks anyone
                    can pick; sometimes they don’t even have locks on them. No one signs
                    for the machines when they show up. No one’s responsible for watching
                    them. Seals on them aren’t much different from the anti-tamper packaging
                    found on food and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. Think about
                    tampering with a food or drug product: You think that’s challenging?
                    It’s really not. And a lot of our election judges are little old ladies
                    who are retired, and God bless them, they’re what makes the elections
                    work, but they’re not necessarily a fabulous workforce for detecting
                    subtle security attacks.


                    Give people checking the seals a little training as to what to look
                    for, and now they have a chance to detect a reasonably sophisticated
                    attack. Do good background checks on insiders, and that insider threat
                    would be much less of a concern. Overall, there’s a lack of a good
                    security culture. We can have flawed voting machines, but if we have a
                    good security culture, we can still have good elections. On the other
                    hand, we can have fabulous machines, but if the security culture is
                    inadequate, it doesn’t really matter. We’ve really got to look at a
                    bigger picture. Our view is: It’s always going to be hard to stop James
                    Bond. But I want to move it to the point where grandma can’t hack
                    elections, and we’re really not there.

                    Watch the Video:

                    http://www.popsci.com/gadgets/article/2012-11/how-i-hacked-electronic-voting-machine

                    Proof No 18

                    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/04/meet-the-e-voting-machine-so-easy-to-hack-it-will-take-your-breath-away/



                    Law & Disorder
                    /
                    Civilization & Discontents

                    Meet the e-voting machine so easy to hack, it will take your breath away

                    Virginia decertifies device that used weak passwords and wasn’t updated in 10 years.


                    by
                    - Apr 16, 2015 12:25am IST



                    Virginia election officials have decertified an electronic voting
                    system after determining that it was possible for even unskilled people
                    to surreptitiously hack into it and tamper with vote counts.

                    The AVS WINVote,
                    made by Advanced Voting Solutions, passed necessary voting systems
                    standards and has been used in Virginia and, until recently, in
                    Pennsylvania and Mississippi. It used the easy-to-crack passwords of
                    “admin,” “abcde,” and “shoup” to lock down its Windows administrator
                    account, Wi-Fi network, and voting results database respectively,
                    according to a scathing security review published Tuesday
                    by the Virginia Information Technologies Agency. The agency conducted
                    the audit after one Virginia precinct reported that some of the devices
                    displayed errors that interfered with vote counting during last
                    November’s elections.

                    The weak passwords—which are hard-coded and can’t be changed—were
                    only one item on a long list of critical defects uncovered by the
                    review. The Wi-Fi network the machines use is encrypted with wired equivalent privacy,
                    an algorithm so weak that it takes as little as 10 minutes for
                    attackers to break a network’s encryption key. The shortcomings of WEP
                    have been so well-known that it was banished in 2004 by the IEEE,
                    the world’s largest association of technical professionals. What’s
                    more, the WINVote runs a version of Windows XP Embedded that hasn’t
                    received a security patch since 2004, making it vulnerable to scores of
                    known exploits that completely hijack the underlying machine. Making
                    matters worse, the machine uses no firewall and exposes several
                    important Internet ports.

                    “Because the WINVote devices use insecure security protocols, weak
                    passwords, and unpatched software, the WINVote devices operate with a
                    high level of risk,” researchers with the Virginia Information
                    Technologies Agency wrote in Tuesday’s report. “The security testing by
                    VITA proved that the vulnerabilities on the WINVote devices can allow a
                    malicious party to compromise the confidentiality and integrity of
                    Voting data.”

                    Putting it to the test

                    To prove their claim the machine was vulnerable to real-world hacks,
                    the auditors were able to use the remote desktop protocol to gain remote
                    access to the voting machines. They also used readily available hacking
                    and diagnostic software to map, access, and transfer data from default
                    shared network locations including C$, D$, ADMIN$, and IPC$. After
                    downloading the database that stores the results of each vote, the
                    auditors required just 10 seconds to figure out its password was “shoup”
                    (named after the company name that preceded Advanced Voting Solutions).
                    The auditors were then able to copy the database, modify its contents
                    to tamper with recorded votes, and copy it back to the voting machine.

                    It’s hard to find plain words that convey just how bad the security
                    of this machine is. It’s even harder to fathom so many critical defects
                    resided in a line of machines that has played a crucial role in the US’
                    democratic system for so many years. Jeremy Epstein, a security expert
                    specializing in e-voting, summarized the threat brilliantly in a post published Wednesday morning to the Freedom to Tinker blog. He wrote:

                    As one of my colleagues taught me, BLUF—Bottom Line Up
                    Front. If an election was held using the AVS WinVote, and it wasn’t
                    hacked, it was only because no one tried. The vulnerabilities were so
                    severe, and so trivial to exploit, that anyone with even a modicum of
                    training could have succeeded. They didn’t need to be in the polling
                    place—within a few hundred feet (e.g., in the parking lot) is easy, and
                    within a half mile with a rudimentary antenna built using a Pringles
                    can. Further, there are no logs or other records that would indicate if
                    such a thing ever happened, so if an election was hacked any time in the
                    past, we will never know.

                    He went on to write:

                    I’ve been in the security field for 30 years, and it
                    takes a lot to surprise me. But the VITA report really shocked me—as bad
                    as I thought the problems were likely to be, VITA’s five-page report
                    showed that they were far worse. And the WinVote system was so fragile
                    that it hardly took any effort. While the report does not state how much
                    effort went into the investigation, my estimation based on the
                    description is that it was less than a person week.

                    And finally, he wrote:

                    So how would someone use these vulnerabilities to change an election?

                    1. Take your laptop to a polling place, and sit outside in the parking lot.
                    2. Use a free sniffer to capture the traffic, and use that to figure out the WEP password (which VITA did for us).
                    3. Connect to the voting machine over WiFi.
                    4. If asked for a password, the administrator password is “admin” (VITA provided that).
                    5. Download the Microsoft Access database using Windows Explorer.
                    6. Use a free tool to extract the hardwired key (“shoup”), which VITA also did for us.
                    7. Use Microsoft Access to add, delete, or change any of the votes in the database.
                    8. Upload the modified copy of the Microsoft Access database back to the voting machine.
                    9. Wait for the election results to be published.

                    It’s good that Virginia will no longer use this machine. Still, given
                    how long it took for the vulnerabilities to be identified, the report
                    raises serious questions about the security of electronic voting and the
                    certification process election officials use to determine if a given
                    machine can be trusted.

                    Story updated to change “national” to “necessary” in the second paragraph.


                    Promoted Comments

                    • BradleyUffnerSmack-Fu Master, in training
                      jump to post

                      Syonyk wrote:
                      At
                      what point does one just conclude that voting machines are this weak by
                      design because a proper, secure, honest vote won’t generate the desired
                      election results?

                      If it was deliberate then it wouldn’t
                      have been this easy to discover. The back doors would have been hidden
                      much better. This only comes from incompetence.

                      22 posts | registered Dec 9, 2014


                    Proof No 2

                    http://www.supremecourtofindia.nic.in/outtoday/wp%28c%29No.161of2004.pdf

                    Details


                    Ex 
                    CJI  SADHASIVAM, shirked its duty & committed a grave error of
                    judgment by allowing in phased manner Fraud Tamperable EVMs on the
                    request of CEC  SAMPATH because of Rs.1600 crore cost to replace them
                    and dealt a fatal blow to the Country’s democracy.
Ex CJI did not order
                    for ballot paper system to be brought in. No such precautionary measure
                    was decreed by the apex court. Ex  CJI did not order that till the time
                    this newer set of about 13,00,000 voting machines is manufactured in
                    full & deployed totally. All the people in 80 democracies in the
                    world who simply done away with fradulent EVMs should not recognise 
                    Modi & his Government. These Insecure EVMs must be scraped by the CJI to order for Fresh
                    elections to Lok Sabha and all the State Assembly elections conducted with paper ballots to save
                    Democracy, Liberty, Fraternity and Equality a Enshrined in the
                    Constitution.

                    This act of CJI and CEC helped the Murderer of
                    democratic institutions (Modi) remotely controlled by 1% chitpawan
                    brahmin Rowdy Swayam Sevaks gobble the MASTER KEY which goes against the
                    interest of 99% Sarvajans including SC/STs/OBCs/Minorities/poor upper castes’
                    liberty, fraternity and equality as enshrined in our Constitution
                    fathered by Babasaheb Dr BR Ambedkar.

                    And this
                    act is itself is proof that the EVMs are vulnerable to fraud for which
                    they must be punished because of their practice of hatred which is
                    madness requiring treatment of Insight meditation in mental asylum.

                    The
                    present CJI must dismiss the central and all the State Governments
                    selected by these fraud EVMs and order for fresh elections with paper
                    ballots which are followed by 80 democracies around the world.

                    2.
                    Ms Mayawati who could not win even a single seat in the last Lok sabha
                    Elections because of the tampering of these fraud EVMs won more than 80 %
                    votes in the last UP Panchayat elections conducted through paper
                    ballots. That is another proof of vulnerability of these fraud EVMs.

                    Therefore,
                    All the future elections have to be conducted through paper ballots.
                    Then Ms Mayawati will not only become the CM of UP but also the next PM
                    of Prabuddha Bharath.


                    BSP 
                    is not only a political party but also a movement of societal change.
                    Hence this technological game of 1% Chitpawan RSS plan has to be
                    defeated by strengthening the 99% intellectuals by exposing the
                    fradulent EVMs as done by 80 democracies of the world in the larger
                    interest of Sarvajan Hitaye Sarvajan Sukhaye i.e., for the peace,
                    happiness and welfare of all societies including SC/STs/ OBCs/
                    Minorities and the poor brahmins and baniyas for distributing the wealth
                    of this country among all sections of the society as enshrined in the
                    Constitution by making the Supreme Court to pass orders to replace all
                    fradulent EVMs and till such time to scrap all elections conducted by
                    these fradulent EVMs and then to conduct elections with tamper proof
                    voting system  like paper ballots to save democracy, equality, fraternity and liberty.





                    Latino Clout Turns on Supreme Court

                    Loyal leaders who are the Owners of Prabuddha Bharath/Prapanch


                    comments (0)
                    Vipassana Fellowship Meditation -13 October - 19 October-Moving to the Second Practice (Video)-Saturday - The Boundless States Book-Contemplation - Day 15-Day 16-Day 17-Day 18-Day 19-Day 20-Day 21
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                    Posted by: site admin @ 12:23 am

                    Vipassana Fellowship Meditation -13 October - 19 October-Moving to the Second Practice (Video)-Saturday - The Boundless States Book-Contemplation - Day 15-Day 16-Day 17-Day 18-Day 19-Day 20-Day 21

                    This week we begin to explore the first of the Sublime Abode practices -
                    Mettā or Lovingkindness Meditation. If you are able to meditate for
                    more than one sitting each day, please work with Mettā in one session
                    and Mindfulness of Breathing in the other.

                    https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=97


                    Moving to the Second Practice (Video)

                    Andrew introduces the third week and our new method.

                    Last modified: Friday, 27 January 2017, 11:10 PM
                    https://course.org/campus/mod/book/view.php?id=98


                    Saturday - The Boundless States

                    1. The Boundless States

                    The Boundless States

                    We
                    have been practising Mindfulness of Breathing and it should have become
                    clear that regular sessions of meditation can be accommodated within
                    our daily lives. The experience of the practice will be different for
                    each of us as it is subject to the conditions we bring to any activity.
                    Our lives are unique, our experience is particular to us and our
                    motivations differ.

                    As
                    we have seen previously, the Buddha suggested many objects for
                    meditation. It can be of considerable help to gain confidence in several
                    techniques in order that we can work skilfully with different
                    circumstances as they arise in our lives. Some of the techniques used by
                    Buddhists develop particular qualities and skills more strongly than
                    others and if we are not careful our meditation practice can become
                    pretty unbalanced; perhaps neglecting those areas that may need most
                    work.

                    Some
                    techniques could be characterised as good for developing the ‘head’
                    aspects - the analytical, improving our concentration, etc. - whilst
                    others are better at opening up our ‘hearts’. In truth, of course, we
                    must develop both head and heart practices if we are to have a firm
                    grasp of the fundamentals. Many meditators who concentrate on a single
                    technique, believing it to contain everything they need, can end up
                    neglecting important areas of deficiency or weakness and this can
                    effectively block their development later. Someone who neglects to work
                    on the quality of compassion - or the faculty to have joy in the success
                    of other people - can develop a very hard, concentrated, analytical
                    practice, but can become self-centred and isolated. They never gain the
                    ability to consider their relationship to others in a positive way and
                    instead withdraw from interaction and can end up with a meditation
                    practise that, whilst supremely concentrated, lacks humanity and is

                    counterproductive in that it gives them an inflated sense of their own importance and achievements.

                    We
                    have spent a short time looking at a pure concentration exercise. It
                    has many benefits and is a core technique of Buddhist meditation. We
                    will continue to use it in the coming months. From tomorrow we will
                    begin to introduce another form of samatha meditation. This is
                    complementary to the work we have been doing and we will use it
                    alongside the Mindfulness of Breathing technique.

                    The
                    inspiration for this new form of meditation, known as brahmavihāra
                    bhāvanā, is a beautiful formula that frequently recurs in the Pāli
                    Canon:

                    “I will abide pervading one quarter

                    with a mind imbued with lovingkindness,

                    Likewise, the second, third and fourth quarters.

                    So above and below, around and everywhere,

                    and to all as if to myself.

                    I will abide pervading the entire world with lovingkindness,

                    Abundant, exalted, immeasurable; without hostility or ill-will.”

                    “I will abide pervading one quarter

                    with a mind imbued with compassion,

                    Likewise, the second, third and fourth quarters.

                    So above and below, around and everywhere,

                    and to all as if to myself.

                    I will abide pervading the entire world with compassion,

                    Abundant, exalted, immeasurable; without hostility or ill-will.”

                    “I will abide pervading one quarter

                    with a mind imbued with appreciative joy,

                    Likewise, the second, third and fourth quarters.

                    So above and below, around and everywhere,

                    and to all as if to myself.

                    I will abide pervading the entire world with appreciative joy,

                    Abundant, exalted, immeasurable; without hostility or ill-will.”

                    “I will abide pervading one quarter

                    with a mind imbued with equanimity,

                    Likewise, the second, third and fourth quarters.

                    So above and below, around and everywhere,

                    and to all as if to myself.

                    I will abide pervading the entire world with equanimity,

                    Abundant, exalted, immeasurable; without hostility or ill-will.”

                    There are four brahmavihāras (divine abodes) or apamaññā (boundless states):

                    Mettā ~ Lovingkindness

                    Karunā ~ Compassion

                    Muditā ~ Appreciative Joy

                    Upekkhā ~ Equanimity

                    We
                    shall be working with each of these practices in turn and the first one
                    we shall look at is mettā bhāvanā, the development of lovingkindness.

                    A
                    whole range of considerations determines the relationships that we have
                    with other people. At their most straightforward the brahmavihāra
                    practices aim at allowing us to see these other beings in a different
                    light from how we usually perceive them. Often our reactions to other
                    people are composed of our own projections about them, or are based on
                    information that is incomplete or misinterpreted. It is not at all
                    unusual for many of us to write-off individuals simply because we are
                    having a bad day or they are not deemed useful to us at the time we
                    encounter them.

                    When
                    we begin to cultivate the brahmavihāra qualities of lovingkindness,
                    compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity we are working to extend
                    them to all beings; but it is sensible to focus first on individuals for
                    whom, or with whom, we can most easily connect. This determines the
                    arrangement of the sections of each of these practices: suggestions have
                    been given but individual meditators might need to adjust them to
                    service their own set of circumstances. Once the connection has been
                    established with one individual then we move on to the next for whom
                    there is some empathy; and so on. There is a gradual progression and the
                    sections become more difficult and require greater application as we
                    begin to work with people, and other beings, for whom there seems no
                    spontaneous empathy.

                    Why
                    bother? Surely some people are simply beyond the pale and are best
                    forgotten about? Can there really be any point in trying to feel
                    compassion, for example, towards a person who seems to relish sadistic
                    behaviour?

                    The
                    misconception inherent in this type of question - which is common to us
                    all - is that our meditation practice is designed to effect change in
                    other people. Often if our upbringing was in one of the theistic
                    religions we have deeply ingrained conditioning that has a tendency to
                    turn any spiritual practice into a type of prayer. This deep-rooted
                    attitude means that our ideas are framed on the basis of belief that it
                    is possible to change externals by the power of thought or through the
                    active intercession of another being. Even if we no longer believe in
                    God or supernatural forces the mechanism for invoking this sort of plea
                    remains with us.

                    The
                    meditative process in Buddhism is quite different. We are not working
                    in our meditation sittings to effect change in other people or in the
                    conditions which affect their lives. These types of goal are not best
                    accomplished whilst seated on a cushion; there is a need for us to act
                    skilfully in the world. We are working, in meditation, towards a greater
                    understanding of those lives and conditions and of our relationship to
                    them. Meditation techniques tackle this in a number of different ways.
                    In the brahmavihāra practices, on one level, we are developing an
                    understanding of how our habitual partiality and sense of separateness
                    impacts on the relationships we have with others. We begin to see,
                    through engaging in these practices, that our own perceptions of the
                    relative merits of individuals, and the qualities we ascribe to them,
                    normally rest on sets of pretty flaky assumptions. Through
                    conscientiously working with the brahmavihāra practices we reach an
                    understanding of the interconnections between us and all other beings
                    and the necessity for active consideration of their needs and
                    aspirations. We begin to see people as more than ciphers representing
                    pleasant or unpleasant attributes. Life is more complex than that.
                    People cannot be reduced to goodies and baddies - but that is how we
                    operate most of the time; thus denying others the possibility of
                    meaningful interaction with us. Denying them and us the understanding
                    that can bring the cessation of suffering.

                    But
                    surely some people really have transgressed so far that they have ruled
                    themselves unworthy of our consideration? What about the really
                    terrible people who seem to offer the world nothing but hate?

                    There
                    are some people whom it would be unwise to include in our meditation
                    sessions until we are well established in these practices. At some
                    point, though, we will feel ready to acknowledge even the most difficult
                    individuals. Remember that the effects these meditation practices have
                    are on us: if we harbour hate, distrust, resentment, prejudice, anger,
                    and other such qualities in our minds then we do ourselves violence. We
                    suffer: our mental states will reflect this bitterness and lack of
                    tranquillity. We are not excusing the appalling behaviour that people,
                    sometimes including ourselves, inflict on the world: that would be a
                    denial of reality - we must always retain an awareness of actions and
                    their consequences - but we do recognise that these actions are not the
                    whole story.

                    In
                    using the brahmavihāra techniques we don’t deny the complexity of the
                    human predicament but we do acknowledge that there is a commonality of
                    aspiration - to suffer less, to be happier - and that we, like all other
                    beings, are a part of this. When we reach a deep understanding of this
                    interconnectedness our attitudes to others and the actions we carry out
                    will reflect this.

                    Everyone
                    begins this work on the basis of partiality. There are people we like
                    and others we don’t. Some people are deemed deserving of our compassion
                    and others, by their actions, are not. In time we will loosen our
                    predilection for labels as we see their debilitating effects and the
                    damage they can inflict. Selectively targeting and withholding love and
                    compassion - these pure and positive qualities of which we can each have
                    an endless supply - leads only to more suffering for all concerned.

                    Like
                    many of these ideas this notion of connectedness can be absorbed on
                    different levels. On the simplest level we can see that we live in
                    community with others and are dependent on them. We could not live as we
                    do without the people who perform the functions that make life liveable
                    - our parents, doctors, the people who grow and transport our food, the
                    friends who are there for us when we need help. This is not all taking
                    and receiving, though, as we are connected to these people and other
                    beings by the services we render and the interactions we have. We are
                    also connected in terms of some of our most basic aspirations. There are
                    few of us who are capable of living alone. Even a hermit monk usually
                    relies on others for some of his requisites of food and medicine, and
                    even if we minimise our reliance on other people we are still dependent
                    on our relationships to other beings, some of which provide food,
                    companionship, and beauty. And like us, all beings seek to increase
                    their happiness and reduce their suffering.

                    According
                    to Buddhist doctrine we also share connection because we are all
                    composed of five common aggregates rather than a personalised Self or
                    enduring soul. These Five Aggregates are physical form, feelings,
                    perceptions, mental functionings, and consciousness. If we contemplate
                    our own nature deeply we will see that in any real sense we are not a
                    fixed entity. We, and all other beings, are subject to flux. We are
                    constantly changing because, at any moment, we are composed of a
                    cocktail of these aggregates. As we get a real understanding of the
                    aggregates that make up this “me” we realise how insubstantial our
                    self-view actually is and how we are composed of exactly the same
                    constantly changing building blocks as every other sentient being. In
                    this sense we are indivisible from them.

                    Sometimes
                    people ask why I have chosen to work with so many different sections
                    when introducing these techniques; after all, the canonical texts say
                    little more than that we should unconditionally radiate lovingkindness,
                    compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity to all. Well, have you ever
                    tried that? It’s a bit of a tall order - at least, for most of us - and
                    so we usually need to ease ourselves into it with some solid
                    preparation.

                    The
                    sections we are using work to ensure that we don’t shirk from dealing
                    with difficult situations and also that we don’t underestimate the
                    amount of compassion and kindness that we, ourselves, need. This is
                    particularly common; many of us have little difficulty directing
                    kindness towards others but feel awkward if asked to show it to
                    ourselves. Working through these fairly rigid structures (if only as an
                    initial approach) will bring about noticeable changes in our attitudes
                    and outlook. It’s certainly not that we’ll become all soft and
                    vulnerable (a common fear) but it will allow us to see our relationships
                    in a more balanced light. For part of each sitting we will be working
                    with people that we find difficult or who are hostile towards us. All of
                    these techniques work on the principle of not taking things personally.
                    If we can see even these individuals as worthy of love, worthy of
                    compassion, then through this empathy we can begin to see his or her
                    actions as the result of a set of conditions - rather than something
                    directly targeted at us. This doesn’t let them off the hook, of course;
                    we are not approving of wrongdoing, but we are capable of seeing it in
                    context. We can often also empathize with what may have conditioned
                    these unskilful acts. We take a look at the reasons rather than the
                    excuses. Later, as we come to look at the reality of anicca
                    (impermanence) we will begin to see the beautiful release that this
                    offers. We hurt ourselves when we cling to anger and animosity: it
                    perpetuates our suffering. Akusala kamma is the Pāli term used for
                    unskilful volitional acts of mind, body or speech. This perpetuation of
                    our suffering is often akusala kamma of the mind; it creates the
                    conditions for further suffering. We redouble the hurt. Through the
                    training we are undertaking we can begin to create the conditions where
                    all of our actions can be wholesome. In this way, we benefit - but so
                    too do all of those with whom we interact.

                    There
                    will be sections of the techniques that come less easily than others.
                    Our view of a family member will not be the same as of a stranger: it
                    cannot be because the conditions that produce the view are different. It
                    is perfectly understandable that we will dislike particular people if
                    there are good reasons to do so. This is different, of course, from
                    irrational prejudice that is always unskilful; being founded on
                    ignorance. If a person’s behaviour is wrong and hurtful then there is
                    every reason for us to not wish to associate with them; indeed the texts
                    warn us against associating with “fools”. What we must take care of is
                    that this dislike of wrongdoing does not spill over into unskilful
                    mental states such as anger and hatred. If we remain mindful then our
                    actions and responses will always tend towards skilfulness. When we work
                    within the framework of the brahmavihāra practices we try to radiate
                    the positive qualities in a balanced way - trying to treat each being as
                    unique and worthy of love, compassion, the presence of joy - we are not
                    implying that all beings are the same; but that they do have similar
                    fundamental needs and aspirations: to overcome all suffering, an
                    aspiration to happiness. Understanding this will bring changes in the
                    way that we act in the world. As we see the commonality that exists,
                    even in a world of difference, we may choose to act in ways that are
                    less partial. We will be more aware of motivation and intention and will
                    see the destructiveness that ignorance and hatred bring.

                    It
                    is common for people in modern times to only be aware of, and taught,
                    mettā bhāvanā from the brahmavihāras. The four practices of mettā,
                    karunā, muditā, and upekkhā are meant to be complementary and there is
                    great value in working skilfully with each of them. Mettā should always
                    be applied first and upekkhā requires an understanding of the other
                    three brahmavihāras so should always be given last. It is a great pity
                    that these teachings are not accessed more frequently nowadays - they
                    are very powerful techniques that can be so very effective in our
                    spiritual development (and at the same time in promoting healthier
                    relationships and harmony on a mundane level). Over the next few weeks
                    we will see how very different these brahmavihāras are from one another
                    but get a glimpse of the great synergy that can come about through
                    continued use of all four. We are working on the cultivation of specific
                    qualities when practising each of the brahmavihāra techniques.
                    Lovingkindness is distinct from compassion. In daily situations we will
                    act from a range of motives but in meditation it is important that
                    clarity of purpose is maintained. If we merge the different brahmavihāra
                    qualities then there is an imprecision that can impede our progress and
                    it becomes easier to neglect those aspects that come less easily to us.

                    The
                    fruits of our meditation practice inform how we will act in the world.
                    This is only one aspect of practice but it is important - meditation is
                    never a selfish activity. Recognising that the cultivation of these
                    positive mental states is an important factor in our ability to act
                    effectively is part of a maturing practice. In our meditation sittings
                    we are not trying to effect change in external situations or in other
                    people. The practices are about fully developing our competences; but
                    from this development flows the intention and ability to act more
                    skilfully than we might otherwise have done in daily life. If we have
                    complete empathy with another being then how can we choose to commit
                    unskilful acts towards him or her?

                    Most
                    people will find that some of these techniques are more difficult than
                    others and that within a particular technique individual sections will
                    be challenging for them. This is a reflection of the areas of strength
                    and neediness that we all have in different measure because of our
                    conditioning. All of these techniques are about cultivating positive
                    states of mind anchored in reality and each of us will benefit from
                    working with them. None of us, at this stage, is likely to be perfected
                    in lovingkindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity but we
                    can strive towards that end through dedicated practice. We need it for
                    our spiritual development; and the resultant positive changes will also
                    benefit our loved ones, families and communities.

                    https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=99


                    Contemplation - Day 15

                    90. In
                    one whose journey has ended,

                    -
                    sorrowless and fully liberated,

                    released
                    from all bonds -

                    no
                    fever exists.

                    91. The
                    mindful, ever active,

                    are
                    unattached to homes:

                    they
                    move on repeatedly,

                    as
                    swans fly from the

                    lake
                    to new abodes.

                    92. Not
                    accumulating,

                    aware
                    of the nature of food,

                    their
                    abode is Deliverance:

                    empty
                    and signless.

                    Like
                    the tracks of birds in air,

                    so
                    difficult to trace.

                    93. Defilements
                    destroyed,

                    unattached
                    to food,

                    their
                    abode is Deliverance:

                    empty
                    and signless.

                    Like
                    the tracks of birds in air,

                    so
                    difficult to trace.

                    94. With
                    senses subdued,

                    -
                    like horses well-trained by a charioteer.

                    Free
                    from conceit and corruption,

                    -
                    even the gods hold such a one dear.

                    95. Like
                    the earth, resenting nothing.

                    Firm
                    as a strong high pillar,

                    pure
                    as a lake unsullied by mud,

                    for
                    such a balanced one,

                    no
                    more births arise.

                    Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 1:28 PM
                    https://course.org/campus/mod/book/view.php?id=100


                    Sunday - Mettā: Lovingkindness Meditation

                    1. Lovingkindness Meditation

                    Lovingkindness Meditation

                    “…whatever kinds of worldly merit there are,

                    all are not worth one sixteenth part of the

                    heart-deliverance of loving-kindness;

                    in shining and beaming and radiance the

                    heart-deliverance of loving-kindness far excels them.”

                    - The Buddha (Itivuttaka, 27)

                    We
                    use the compound word ‘lovingkindness’ when translating the term mettā
                    into English to distinguish it from the casual way in which the word
                    love has come to be used. Love in its truest sense is entirely wholesome
                    but in modern times is often confused with lust, craving and
                    attachment. Often it is selectively given and selectively withheld. We
                    fail to act altruistically and begin to behave in patterns that have
                    more to do with ownership, possession, power struggles and egotism.

                    In
                    the mettā bhāvanā practice we try to return to the real meaning of love
                    - the sort of pure love that may lead a devoted mother to lay down her
                    own life to protect her child - and to work on developing our ability to
                    radiate this love to all living beings. The capacity to direct this
                    lovingkindness to others should not be determined by our likes and
                    dislikes. As living beings we survive on the basis of our connections
                    with others. Just as we wish to receive the kindness of others, so too
                    do they require and deserve our love. In our practical everyday lives we
                    soon make judgements about people and about their motivation for the
                    deeds they enact. The mettā bhāvanā practice does not focus on this or
                    on the rights and wrongs of our relationships. We begin the practice of
                    lovingkindness from the understanding that all living beings are seeking
                    the same thing - freedom from suffering. The time that we set aside for
                    this meditation practice is a way of reconnecting with that
                    commonality. Just as we wish happiness for ourselves and those we like,
                    so too can we extend that same wish to all other sentient beings.
                    Without condition, without judgement.

                    There
                    are various different methods of practising mettā bhāvanā. The method
                    we shall primarily be using works on the principle that we first show
                    lovingkindness to those we respect and like and on to people about whom
                    we feel neutral or even actively dislike. From there we broaden out the
                    subjects on whom we focus to encompass all other humans and ultimately
                    all other living beings. This may seem a tall order at this stage but,
                    when we work with diligence and commitment, gradually the heart opens a
                    little more and we feel the love flowing more freely. Over time we will
                    steadily find it easier to radiate our love to those people with whom we
                    currently have difficulties. It is important at the outset to clarify
                    that we are not expected to necessarily like them - in fact such a
                    judgement does not really come into it - we are, however, able to love
                    them. It will be difficult initially, particularly if we are unused to
                    contemplating our feelings, or if we feel we have recently been wronged.

                    For
                    some people the practice can be difficult to grasp or take seriously.
                    It may seem a little like one of the positive thinking therapies; but do
                    not underestimate the importance of the technique. In order to develop
                    spiritually it is necessary to ensure that our practice encompasses the
                    whole range of our experience - and that includes the emotional as well
                    as the analytical. It may be a truism but if we have a strong reaction
                    against this way of working, it is likely that we are most in need of
                    it. Try to make the commitment.

                    Different
                    meditators react in different ways and each will settle into his or her
                    own manner of working with the technique. Reactions to guided
                    meditations are often dependent on whether we have a visual or verbal
                    imagination, or whether we are predominantly analytical or emotional. A
                    balanced approach is advocated here, but you will need to make
                    adjustments dependent on your own experience.

                    What
                    we are aiming to achieve in the early stages of this type of meditation
                    is an ability to radiate lovingkindness to specific individuals and
                    groups equally. Initially we will use statements such as “May they be
                    well, may they be happy” as a base, but these should not really be seen
                    as affirmations or mantras. They are a way to begin engaging with the
                    emotion that is lovingkindness. Try to really mean them. When we are
                    secure in the practice, we will be able to tap into this resource
                    without any script.

                    As
                    in our last practice, please ensure that you give equal attention to
                    the separate sections. It is likely that you will find some sections
                    much easier than others. Try to ignore this and just work with
                    consistency. As you become more established in the practice you will see
                    fluctuations in the relative ease or difficulty of the various
                    sections.

                    Guidelines:

                    (1)
                    Concentrate on really feeling the lovingkindness. It will be stronger
                    in some sections than others. Don’t worry about the words or images too
                    much.

                    (2)
                    This is not mantra meditation or wishful thinking. We are trying to
                    connect to the actual truth of the emotion and to be able to radiate it
                    impartially to others.

                    (3) Stay with the sections for an equal amount of time. Don’t favour any particular person or group of beings.

                    (4) Don’t focus on the same individuals too often. Choose different people (or rotate them) in different sittings.

                    (5)
                    Concentrate only on living beings. It is unwise initially to focus on
                    people to whom you are sexually attracted or whom you hate.

                    (6)
                    We are not trying to change the other person. We are allowing our
                    lovingkindness to flow with generosity, regardless of who they are.

                    (7) Be gentle with yourself - and others.

                    INSTRUCTIONS

                    If you are new to meditation allow 20 to 30 minutes for each session. Try to practise at a regular time each day.

                    Find
                    a quiet place and set up your posture in a way which will aid alertness
                    and which does not place strain on the body. Keep the spine straight if
                    possible. Sit for a few moments, allowing any stresses and strains of
                    the day to subside, quietly determining to spend the time you have set
                    aside for your meditation solely for that purpose. Not analysing, not
                    planning. Allow a gentle smile to play on the face and close your eyes.

                    Bring
                    the attention to focus for a few moments on the breath as it rises and
                    falls. As always, observing the normal breath. Not trying to change its
                    rhythm or depth. Reflect for a moment on the wretchedness of anger and
                    malice, on the hurt that it causes, on how it impacts on our lives and
                    those of others. Consider the advantages of patience.

                    Gently
                    bring the centre of your attention to the heart area. There is kindness
                    there and we can give it unconditionally. Share the warmth without any
                    expectation of reward. Allow yourself to emanate pure love towards
                    yourself and others. Allow it to flow without judgement and without
                    attachment. Everyone needs our love, our kindness. We have a boundless
                    capacity to radiate lovingkindness to sentient beings. We may find it
                    easier initially to share this love with people we like, but we can
                    share it with everyone. All sentient beings need love. Those with whom
                    we have had problems also need lovingkindness: often if their actions
                    did not seem kind, it may help to see those actions as a response to
                    their own suffering. Try to let the love flow to them regardless.

                    Gradually
                    begin to work outwards from yourself, radiating lovingkindness. The
                    object of our meditation is to share our capacity for kindness, real
                    love, with all sentient beings.

                    Preliminary Reflection - Oneself

                    (Often
                    it can be difficult to show kindness to ourselves, so before beginning
                    the main meditation session we try to develop this ability. We are all
                    too aware of our failings and mistakes. We may have feelings of
                    inadequacy or guilt. We may be conscious of how we are seen by others,
                    or may be overly self-critical. Others of us may sometimes have an
                    overdeveloped sense of their own self-worth and success, and may feel
                    they do not need lovingkindness. We all need it. If we are unable to
                    show lovingkindness to ourselves it will be difficult to share it with
                    others. Persevere with this section of the meditation. Always begin with
                    it and make sure you give it an equal period of time.)

                    Begin
                    to focus on yourself as an individual. As someone who is in need of
                    love and kindness. Someone who wishes to be free from suffering and
                    hardship. Emanate mettā to yourself. Unconditionally.

                    May I be well and happy,

                    May no harm come to me,

                    May I abide in well-being,

                    May I be peaceful,

                    May I maintain mindfulness,

                    May I attain bliss,

                    May I be free from anger…..

                    First Section - A Benefactor

                    (Someone for whom you have respect, to whom you feel gratitude. Maybe a parent or spiritual teacher.)

                    Just as for myself … so too for…

                    May they abide in well being,

                    May they enjoy good health,

                    May they be happy,

                    Free from anger, free from hurt…….

                    Second Section - A Friend

                    (Someone around the same age as yourself, and for whom you feel warmth but not sexual attraction.)

                    Just as for my benefactor … so too for…

                    May they be well and happy,

                    May they be peaceful,

                    May they live harmoniously…….

                    Third Section - A Neutral Person

                    (Someone
                    you have not formed a strong opinion about. You neither like nor
                    dislike them. Maybe someone you met in a shop today or in the course of
                    your business.)

                    Just as for my friend … so too for…

                    May they be happy,

                    May they attain peace,

                    May they be well,

                    May they be mindful…….

                    Fourth Section - A Difficult Person

                    (Someone
                    to whom you feel some animosity or is hostile towards you. Perhaps he
                    or she has wronged you. Do not choose someone you hate. Work gently with
                    this section. This person needs your kindness too.)

                    Just as for someone about whom I feel neutral… so too for…

                    May they abide in well being,

                    May they be free from harm,

                    May they be peaceful,

                    May they enjoy success…….

                    Fifth Section - The Wider Community

                    (Opening
                    out to share our love with other human beings. They have the same
                    needs. They need our mettā. Share it with them - you have a limitless
                    supply.)

                    Just as for individual people… so too for…

                    May

                    …the people in this building…

                    …the people in this town…

                    …the people in this country…

                    …all people everywhere…

                    May

                    … they be happy,

                    May they be peaceful,

                    May they live in harmony…..

                    Sixth Section - All Sentient Beings

                    (Radiating our lovingkindness to all other living beings. Those we like, those we don’t.)

                    Just as for human beings… so too for…

                    May

                    …animals…

                    …birds…

                    …fish and insects…

                    May they

                    …be happy and peaceful,

                    May they be free from harm,

                    May they be free from anger.

                    May all beings live in harmony,

                    May they be free from anger and ill-will,

                    May they attain true peace.

                    At
                    the end of the session reflect for a few moments on the expansive
                    nature of lovingkindness and resolve to let this quality enter into your
                    interactions throughout the day. When you are ready open your eyes.

                    Summary Of The Practice

                    Show lovingkindness to oneself and then begin to direct it outward:

                    1. A Benefactor

                    2. A Friend

                    3. A Neutral Person

                    4. A Difficult Person

                    5. The Wider Community - those close by, and far away

                    6. All Sentient Beings - animals, birds, etc.

                    As you begin you may find it useful to mentally use phrases like:

                    “May they be well, may they be happy”

                    “May they be peaceful”

                    The
                    repetition may be mechanical at first, but the intention is to really
                    feel the sentiment and radiate it to the person or group. You may find
                    that the phrases are unnecessary or that images are more useful in
                    bringing the quality of lovingkindness to mind. Try to devote equal time
                    to each of the sections.

                    Try
                    to really feel the lovingkindness as you radiate it. It will be
                    stronger in some sections than others. If you are able to work with all
                    sections for an equal amount of time you will gradually find that the
                    mettā strengthens in those places where it seems difficult. If a
                    particular section is very painful then take things slowly. You may need
                    to drop that section for a while and return to it later - gradually
                    increasing the amount of time given to it until it receives equal
                    attention with all the other sections. Try to avoid relegating sections
                    that seem difficult unless you need to. Always reintroduce them gently.
                    Most meditators will be able to work with all the sections from the
                    outset with varying degrees of discomfort and frustration. This
                    discomfort is subject to change as we practise. For some of us it may be
                    overwhelming. In that case we should begin by working with the sections
                    where we can feel mettā and come back to the others later.

                    https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=101


                    Contemplation - Day 16

                    96. Calm
                    in thought, calm in speech,

                    calm
                    in deed.

                    Freed
                    is one who truly knows:

                    perfectly
                    tranquil and equipoised.

                    97. Relying
                    not on blind faith,

                    one
                    who knows the uncreated,

                    who
                    has severed all links,

                    destroyed
                    all causes, abandoned all desire,

                    he,
                    indeed, is the ultimate man.

                    98. Whether
                    village, forest, vale or hill;

                    inspiring,
                    indeed, is a place

                    where
                    the Perfected dwell.

                    99. Delightful
                    are the forests,

                    which
                    worldlings dislike.

                    The
                    passion-freed delight there,

                    seeking
                    no sense pleasures.

                    Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 1:31 PM
                    https://course.org/campus/mod/book/view.php?id=102


                    Monday - The Discourse on Mettā

                    1. Discourse on Mettā

                    The Discourse on Lovingkindness

                    The Karaniya Mettā Sutta

                    “One who is skilled in wholesomeness

                    and seeks the calm that is Nibbāna,

                    should act thus:

                    Be sincere to oneself, upright and conscientious,

                    soft of speech, gentle and without conceit.

                    Contented, living simply, peaceful and unburdened,

                    with senses calmed, prudent, modest,

                    and without showing anxiety for support.

                    One should not commit any slight wrong

                    for which the wise might censure one.

                    May all beings be happy and secure,

                    may their hearts be wholesome.

                    Whatever living beings there are -

                    whether mentally feeble or strong,

                    physically long, stout or medium,

                    short, small or large,

                    the seen or unseen; dwelling far or near;

                    those who are born and those yet to be born -

                    may they all, without exception, be happy.

                    Let no one deceive another

                    nor despise anyone whatsoever in any place;

                    nor in anger or ill-will wish harm upon another.

                    Even as a mother would risk her life

                    to protect her only child,

                    so should one cultivate a boundless

                    heart towards all beings.

                    Let thoughts of infinite lovingkindness

                    pervade the whole world -

                    above, below and around -

                    unobstructed, free of hatred or enmity.

                    Whether standing, walking, sitting or lying down,

                    as long as one is awake, such mindfulness

                    should be developed:

                    this, the wise say, is the highest conduct here.

                    Not embracing false views,

                    endowed with virtue and insight,

                    and having given up

                    attachment to sense desires -

                    such a person will not come again

                    to lie in a womb.”

                    Buddhist ethics focus both on the things to be done (cāritta), and those to be refrained from (vāritta).
                    The Karaniya Mettā Sutta, given by the Buddha, speaks of both of these
                    as well as giving the basic instructions for mettā meditation. The first
                    part tells of the virtues that are necessary for effective meditation.
                    This is followed by instruction on how mettā may be practised and then
                    we are given details of the abstinences that are necessary for our
                    development. The sutta ends with the promise that one who seeks to
                    perfect this practice in every waking hour will not face subsequent
                    rebirths (if they have also developed virtue and insight. This yoking of
                    a traditional samatha practice with insight meditation can amount to a
                    complete path to liberation).

                    The Benefits of Mettā

                    The
                    tradition holds that there are eleven benefits that come to someone who
                    develops lovingkindness. As we practice it can be useful to reflect
                    upon these as an incentive. We can also begin to recognise some of these
                    signs arising in our fellow meditators:

                    We will sleep soundly

                    We will wake easily, like a lotus opening

                    We will have only pleasant dreams

                    People will love us

                    Non-human beings will love us

                    Deities will protect us, as a parent guards a child

                    Poisons, weapons and fire will not harm us

                    Our mind will be easily concentrated

                    Our face will be serene

                    Our death will be peaceful and unconfused

                    If we are reborn, it will be in fortunate circumstances

                    https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=103


                    Contemplation - Day 17

                    100. Better
                    than a thousand useless words

                    is
                    one useful word,

                    hearing
                    which, one finds peace.

                    101. Better
                    than a thousand useless verses

                    is
                    one useful line,

                    hearing
                    which, one finds peace.

                    102. Better
                    than chanting hundreds of useless verses

                    is
                    the chanting of one verse of Dhamma,

                    hearing
                    which, one finds peace.

                    103. One
                    may conquer a thousand times

                    a
                    thousand men in battle,

                    but
                    a nobler victor is one

                    who
                    conquers his self.

                    104-105. Self
                    conquest excels

                    the
                    conquest of all others.

                    Not
                    gods, nor gandhabba,

                    nor
                    even Mara with Brahma,

                    can
                    reverse the victory

                    of
                    one who conquors self

                    and
                    lives in restraint.

                    Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 1:32 PM
                    https://course.org/campus/mod/book/view.php?id=104


                    Tuesday - Expectations, Strengths, Cultivation

                    1. Expectations, Strengths, Cultivation

                    Expectations and Strengths

                    Lovingkindness
                    Meditation can come as quite a shock. Rather than the expected feelings
                    of beneficence and warmth, a whole range of disparate emotions can
                    occur. Most meditators will experience some periods of melancholy or
                    anger, as well as happiness and positivity. Often these emotions are
                    related to the particular beings to which we are radiating
                    lovingkindness. This is one of the main reasons why we should try to
                    ensure that equal time is given to each section. Otherwise we might try
                    to rush through the difficult sections (or wallow in them, depending on
                    our character type) and then bask in those sections we find easier.

                    The
                    relative ease or difficulty we find in radiating mettā is very complex.
                    Some meditators find the first section, that focuses on themselves,
                    incredibly difficult; others find it easy and have more problems with
                    one of the other sections. If we insist on giving equal attention to all
                    sections we will gradually find that our ability to give mettā becomes
                    more consistent. It is usual to initially encounter more distractions
                    with this practice than ānāpānasati. The mettā bhāvanā is far more
                    visually and emotionally based and we also have to make choices about
                    the subject of each of the sections. The rules are, however, as before.
                    When distractions occur simply acknowledge them and return to radiating
                    mettā to the individual or group you have chosen.

                    If
                    images arise and simply take the form of a visual representation of the
                    person or group to whom you are radiating mettā then use this as a tool
                    for empathy but ensure that you do not engage in working through little
                    scenes to reinforce this. Concentrate on radiating real lovingkindness
                    from you to them. If they are represented visually that is a help for
                    most people. Some meditators also like to visualise the `source’ of the
                    mettā - perhaps as an open or overflowing heart. Whilst not literally
                    true, this image - or others like a ray of golden light - can be helpful
                    in initially recognizing the emotional force of the lovingkindness. The
                    danger is to become over-reliant on the imagery. Guard against creating
                    layer-upon-layer of visual metaphor if possible. We are not engaging in
                    Creative Visualisation.

                    Lovingkindness
                    Meditation is very strong medicine. For some people it can be difficult
                    to tap into that well of mettā and feel able to radiate it equally to
                    other beings. If we are not in tune with our emotions or have buried
                    resentments these will surface during the practice. Sometimes we may
                    feel we are emotionally sound, only to find that this powerful technique
                    delves deeper than we have heretofore realised is possible. The mettā
                    bhāvanā is a very deep practice that can unlock aspects of ourselves
                    that we have been suppressing or have not come to terms with. It is
                    amazing how many confident gregarious people find that it opens them to
                    aspects of themselves of which they were unaware. The choice for us then
                    is whether to put the lid back on the bottle we have opened or to take a
                    peek inside. If we force the lid back on then the contents may ferment
                    or go acrid - they would have anyway. If we take a look then we will
                    find what has been neglected and then make an informed decision about
                    the method we use to put it right.

                    We
                    are essentially building on what is already there. We may currently be
                    unable to open to this resource particularly in relation to particular
                    individuals or groups and this technique, slowly, will enable us to do
                    so. We are not trying to synthesise anything - it’s the real feeling
                    that is already present which we are radiating. It could be looked upon
                    as liberating a quality that is currently imprisoned by the barriers and
                    views we have constructed. This is where it is misleading to think that
                    the phrases we may use are to be treated as affirmations. The mettā
                    bhāvanā may share some of the vocabulary - possibly only because of our
                    language limitations - but the intention is quite distinct. Rather than
                    working as active phrases, which will permit some transformation in
                    another individual, they are simply a way of connecting with our ability
                    to behave nobly.

                    The
                    resource that is Lovingkindness is already present in each of us. The
                    practice allows us to make a conscious effort to bestow it on all beings
                    without fear or favour. We are not trying to change them in any way -
                    we accept them as they are. Instead we acknowledge the partial,
                    discriminatory way that we habitually choose to act with Lovingkindness.
                    The giving and the withholding of kindness is often bound with notions
                    of approval and disapproval of a person’s actions. We see them as the
                    action rather than as another being, however flawed, seeking the same
                    happiness that we seek, suffering from life’s vicissitudes in just the
                    same way. This process works to develop an altruistic spirit and an
                    equanimous approach to the people with whom we interact. It develops our
                    sense of the relationship we share with all beings - our non-separate
                    nature.

                    There
                    will be sessions of the mettā practice that will leave us elated and
                    there will be others whose effect will be to remind us of the work that
                    is required. There is a fluidity to this practice that means that we can
                    be pretty certain that all of us will experience highs and lows. You
                    have been disturbed by a difficult session early on. This is unlikely to
                    predominate in future sessions if you approach them (as much as
                    possible) in the spirit that each will be a novel experience.

                    A Process of Cultivation

                    Many
                    people presume that this form of meditation will be easy. Those who
                    have difficulties with it downplay its role. I did myself until a kalyāna
                    mitta - a good spiritual friend - showed me the mistake I was making.
                    It can sometimes seem at a cursory glance to have too many similarities
                    to more modern techniques prevalent in the New Age movement. Where it is
                    different is that it forms one part of a complete and demanding system.
                    It has rigour and integrity. Each of the strands works together to
                    ensure that nothing is ignored; nothing is pandered to. We are working
                    for the deliverance of the heart, for others and ourselves and this is
                    the most important, and probably the toughest, work we can do.

                    As
                    in all important work, there are risks to our self-image and the views
                    we hold of others, and there will be uncomfortable sessions - for each
                    of us - but the effectiveness of the technique will show itself in a
                    myriad of small ways after a short period of practice. Faith or
                    confidence can lead us on from there. So go steadily, gently - always
                    gently. Remembering the good in you at every stage and accepting that
                    all beings - including yourself - are worthy of respect; looking for
                    happiness; are imperfect but often trying their best. It will help. The
                    mettā bhāvanā does work.

                    There
                    may be many reasons why mettā may seems more difficult for you. Often
                    one of the problems is that we do not feel worthy of showing ourselves
                    lovingkindness. We skip quickly over the first section to the other
                    sections where we try to begin to radiate the quality outward. For other
                    people there is sometimes the problem that they feel they currently
                    have a limited quantity of mettā to radiate. They may be blocked by
                    anger, guilt or resentment. Still others are disposed to taking on the
                    suffering of the world like a heavy weight on their shoulders and find
                    the positive qualities harder to relate to.

                    This
                    is why perseverance is so very necessary on the spiritual path. We are
                    inclined to avoid what is difficult for us and pander to what most
                    easily matches our character. Some meditators excel at the more abstract
                    or analytical techniques but find difficulty in those where positive
                    emotional states are being cultivated. Some people indulge themselves in
                    suffering and pain where others choose to luxuriate in only the
                    ‘positive’. These approaches are unbalanced and at different times we
                    may each incline toward one or the other. If we find it difficult to
                    give lovingkindness equally to ourselves and to others then it is an
                    aspect of our practice that requires work. If we find it easier to take
                    on suffering than to appreciate what is joyful that also requires
                    attention. One of the great skills that we need to nurture is to notice
                    the pull of the preferred and the push of the problematic. We have such a
                    great capacity for not seeing our underlying habits.

                    If
                    tuning in to mettā is difficult for you in all sections of the practice
                    then concentrate on those sections where there is at least a scintilla
                    of recognition and come back to the more difficult sections later. As
                    you work with these stronger sections you will become more familiar with
                    mettā’s quality and feel more able to extend it to the weaker sections.
                    You can use imagery from times when you were happiest to capture a
                    glimpse of what you would wish for yourself and others. This connecting
                    with memory is a short-cut to initial practice and can prove useful in
                    feeling more comfortable with emotional work. It is not the practice
                    itself but can help us work towards it. Recollect a moment of pure
                    happiness - however brief - and remember how that felt. Acknowledge that
                    happiness is what you desire. Acknowledge your connection with others -
                    they too seek happiness. Will that they should experience such a moment
                    because they seek it.

                    I
                    believe unequivocally that everyone can benefit from mettā meditation;
                    there are few of us who can show unconditional love to our fellow beings
                    without such a practice. Without developing this ability we will
                    continue to inhabit an interior landscape conditioned by attachment,
                    possessiveness, jealousy and anger. By being partial - by displaying
                    love only to those with whom we are ‘in-love’ or approve of - we
                    separate ourselves from the opportunity to offer greater happiness and
                    less pain to all. When combined with hard work on compassion,
                    appreciative joy and equanimity mettā’s power as a tool to reduce the
                    suffering we both cause and experience in our daily interactions is
                    unsurpassed.

                    Of
                    course some of us will find it easier to work with particular
                    techniques than others. Dependent on our character type and life
                    experiences we may believe we are more suited to the analytical or
                    abstract forms of meditation. In truth most of us will have plenty of
                    work to do in the realm of the emotions as well as that of clear seeing.
                    Neglecting one of these aspects will undoubtedly, sooner or later,
                    impede our progress in the other. It took a very perceptive teacher to
                    awaken me to the stagnation in my own practice some years ago when I
                    thought that formal vipassanā techniques alone paved the path to the
                    cessation of suffering. For some hardy individuals maybe those
                    techniques are sufficient, but I know I am not alone in requiring
                    sustained work in all areas of this particular heart-mind.

                    The
                    work that we do is not easy. Our reactions and resentments about
                    particular areas of this path are a useful barometer for the amount of
                    work we still have to do. Often those techniques which feel most natural
                    or easier for us may not be addressing the most pressing needs that we
                    have. Sometimes it has to be a struggle - but it is a struggle worth
                    engaging with. If mettā practice does not come easily to you at this
                    point please persevere with it for a while. Often those of us who are
                    justifiably critical of New Age excesses set up an unnecessary barrier
                    to this sort of technique because some of the vocabulary is shared. We
                    must remember what differentiates this technique: it is (like all
                    aspects of the Dhamma) a rigorous practice, blessed by over 2500 years
                    of attested experience, which forms one part - an important part - of a
                    practical teaching which permits the possibility for each of us for the
                    total cessation of dukkha. The mundane benefits may be useful in making
                    our lives run a little more harmoniously but they are really little more
                    than hors d’oeuvres.

                    https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=105


                    Contemplation - Day 18

                    106. One
                    may conduct a thousand sacrifices,

                    month
                    after month, for a hundred years.

                    Yet
                    honouring a Perfected One, for only a moment,

                    excells
                    a century of sacrifices.

                    107. One
                    may tend the sacrificial fire,

                    in
                    the forest, for a hundred years.

                    Yet
                    honouring a Perfected One, for only a moment,

                    excells
                    a century of fire-sacrifices.

                    108. Sacrifices
                    and offerings, made in this world

                    for
                    an entire year, by one desiring merit,

                    are
                    not worth a quarter of the merit gained

                    honouring
                    the Upright, which is truly excellent.

                    109. To
                    one respectful,

                    and
                    eager to honour the elders,

                    four
                    blessings accrue:

                    long
                    life, beauty, happiness, and strength.

                    110. Better
                    to live one day

                    virtuous
                    and meditative,

                    than
                    a hundred years

                    immoral
                    and uncontrolled.

                    111. Better
                    to live one day

                    wise
                    and meditative,

                    than
                    a hundred years

                    foolish
                    and uncontrolled.

                    Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 1:34 PM


                    Wednesday - Connection and Extension

                    1. Connection and Extension

                    The
                    first step in mettā bhāvanā practice is to identify and connect with
                    lovingkindness as it is already known to us. Initially the
                    identification may not be very strong but the purpose of this technique
                    is to develop the capacity already present. We are not looking for
                    something extraordinary but a quality that is already within us and may
                    be nurtured. The ability to show kindness or pure love to another being
                    is something that most of us already do in one way or another: the
                    difference here is that we are working in a systematic way in order that
                    we can train ourselves to be less choosy about whom we select to bestow
                    our goodwill upon. We are not, in this practice, identifying joy and
                    happiness in another person or empathising with their good fortune. We
                    are working to will towards them the best that can be offered - it is in
                    the spirit of a gift from us to them without expectation of reward. It
                    is an opening of our hearts to allow the possibility of showing kindness
                    to all.

                    We
                    are not starting from scratch; there is unlikely to be anyone on
                    working with these practices who has not given love to someone or
                    treated another with kindness. The process of mettā bhāvanā begins by
                    recognising those moments and understanding that we can work to extend
                    this purity of intent, this nobility of heart, to all other beings. This
                    will not happen immediately; it takes sustained effort. By identifying
                    and reconnecting with the capacity that is already within us we can
                    steadily apply the technique and overcome our reluctance or resistance
                    to radiating lovingkindness more widely.

                    All
                    of these techniques and practices use ordinary everyday stuff as their
                    material. Sometimes we have a tendency to be unable to recognise the
                    very qualities that are already within us because we go hunting for
                    something bigger or flashier. Meditation is concerned with reality - and
                    sometimes that means we have to tone down our expectations in the
                    initial stages. It effects great change - but the practices are always
                    initially rooted in the mundane and the commonplace. This is why the
                    realisation that this path takes a degree of stability, discipline and
                    acceptance before it can bear fruit is so important. Recognising and
                    then working with the ordinary and the everyday acts of kindness is a
                    base from which we may strive to refine and extend our ability to offer
                    lovingkindness to all.

                    We
                    are not looking for anything special or unusual to transmit to another
                    person. We are simply reconnecting with something that we all have - the
                    ability to be kind. It can be useful to remember incidents in your life
                    where you have benefited from someone else’s kindness and also when you
                    have performed acts of kindness. It may help to remember the
                    expressions on the faces of the recipients of your kindness. When
                    working in mettā bhāvanā we are simply wishing each of the beings the
                    best that we can offer. It is about generously caring about the welfare
                    of ourselves and others - indiscriminately.

                    This
                    is a practice without recrimination. It is not a question of being
                    ‘cold hearted’ or ‘warm hearted’ but of having the will to develop from
                    the point each of us is currently at. All of us require sustained work
                    if we are to be able to show mettā to every other sentient being. No one
                    can manage anything like that without a process of sustained effort. We
                    start where we are and work from there. This is a tried and tested
                    method that can work for everyone. We may need to tinker with phrases or
                    imagery but the principles behind the practice are universally
                    applicable and will bear fruit.

                    Perhaps
                    one way to approach this is to see what we are doing as an act of
                    giving - pure love, our kindness as something to be offered without the
                    need for reciprocity or acknowledgement. This is a very generous form of
                    practice where we are looking to be fully open to sharing all that is
                    positive with each of the beings on whom we focus. We are working with
                    different sections because that is a helpful training device for many
                    people, but our aim is to be able to radiate this quality of care
                    without discrimination towards all sentient life. There is no need to
                    feel that one is giving up rationality; just that it is not the quality
                    that is specifically being developed during the 30 minutes or the hour
                    we have set aside for our meditation sitting. We are simply recognising
                    that there are different qualities and skills that need to be cultivated
                    at different times. What we are using here is not oppositional to
                    rationality - we certainly need that too - but complementary to it.
                    Quite clearly the rational mind will spring back into action without any
                    prompting once we have moved on from this sitting - if it holds off
                    even that long! - there is no need to fear that it will be damaged by
                    placing our attention wholeheartedly on these brahmavihāra techniques as
                    one part of our practice.

                    https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=107


                    Contemplation - Day 19

                    112. Better
                    to live one day

                    with
                    determined effort,

                    than
                    a hundred years

                    idle
                    and inactive.

                    113. Better
                    to live one day

                    knowing
                    of arising and ceasing,

                    than
                    a hundred years

                    ignorant
                    of arising and ceasing.

                    114. Better
                    to live one day

                    seeing
                    the Deathless,

                    than
                    a hundred years

                    without
                    seeing the Deathless.

                    115. Better
                    to live one day

                    knowing
                    the supreme Dhamma,

                    than
                    a hundred years

                    ignorant
                    of the supreme Dhamma.

                    Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 1:35 PM
                    https://course.org/campus/mod/book/view.php?id=108


                    Thursday - Unconditional and Whole-hearted

                    1. Unconditional and Whole-hearted

                    One
                    of the abilities we are attempting to cultivate, in these practices, is
                    that of equanimous and unconditional beneficence. We are intent on the
                    welfare of all. Whether the individual technique emphasises
                    lovingkindness, compassion, appreciative joy or equanimity we need to
                    aspire to being able to show it for all beings. This is a tall order -
                    and many years of work for most of us - but it is eminently possible. If
                    we currently feel overwhelmed in some sections, and find this
                    debilitating, then it may be skilful for a short while to pull back from
                    working with those sections to allow us the space to concentrate on the
                    others where the emotion comes less easily. The aim is not to luxuriate
                    in the feeling of possessive love for the few to whom we are close, but
                    to work skilfully and gradually at recognising the nature of that love
                    and seeing if it is actually mettā. Mettā, remember, is devoid of
                    possession and the need for control. It can be directed to all, whether
                    they are well known and liked or a casual acquaintance of whose actions
                    we disapprove. In terms of the phrases that we have been using to align
                    our hearts and minds to the necessary willingness to share, then “May
                    they be well, may they be happy” is about the level we are aiming at: a
                    genuine feeling of wishing the person well, nothing more or less.

                    Vocabulary
                    is always tricky when we are dealing with such profound feelings.
                    ‘Love’ and even ‘kindness’ have so many associations in our language. We
                    are not concerned here with any of the notions of romantic love (being
                    ‘in love’) or with the fondness that comes from being related to others.
                    Neither are we engaging in some sort of warm and cosy ‘love-in’. Mettā
                    is the indiscriminate and heartfelt expression of our yearning for the
                    welfare of all. The quality of mettā should not seem overwhelming: it is
                    produced by the will of one person who cares so much for all others
                    that she or he wants only what is best for them.

                    Rationally
                    we may think that concentration on a few individuals, to the exclusion
                    of other beings, is likely to result in ignoring the welfare of the
                    many. Mettā is different: it is not a finite resource that we need to
                    work with frugally. As we ease forward in our practice we cannot fail to
                    see its limitless nature. Mettā cannot be applied in a partial manner;
                    we may begin our work focusing on a small circle of a few people and
                    from there we must work to extend this active kindness to everyone.

                    In
                    this form of practice we are looking to cultivate an equanimous
                    approach based in our ability to care; not discriminating between the
                    different groups and individuals to selectively bestow and withhold
                    goodwill according to perceived merit. There is nothing wrong with an
                    attitude that is even-minded - indeed it should be that way - but we
                    must ensure it is not also careless and unfeeling. Sometimes people
                    think that because the brahmavihāra practices focus on the emotions and
                    relationships that they should feature great swellings or outpourings of
                    emotion: this may happen for some people, but not for everyone, and it
                    is not something we need to crave or try to manufacture. We are products
                    of different sets of conditions and our particular experience in
                    meditation, as in all other things, necessarily reflects this. Those who
                    do experience extreme emotions during meditation will often find that
                    these emotions are anything but evenly distributed and that working for a
                    balanced outlook is, for them, quite challenging. Those of us with a
                    temperament not given to outward display of emotion have different
                    challenges - but they certainly do not lie in trying to conform to an
                    idea of what should arise in our sittings.

                    Mettā
                    is a wholehearted concern for the welfare of all beings - the arising
                    of the unconditional will to beneficence. There are many different ways
                    that this manifests and they need not involve strong emotional mood
                    swings. A practice that is a roller coaster of emotions is likely to be
                    debilitating, being most likely to be founded on passion, preference and
                    partiality. Meditators who experience this initially will soon find
                    greater evenness and balance occurs quite naturally as the engagement
                    with this work continues.

                    Sometimes
                    people genuinely do not feel negatively about individuals and worry
                    that this needs rectifying in some way. If they truly do not feel any
                    anger or hatred towards others then it is pointless to try to conjure
                    them up just to fit a particular technique. If mild irritation or
                    annoyance is present then work with that - but don’t try to engineer
                    negative mental states for the sake of it. We are working with what is
                    present rather than making our experience fit some preconceived notion
                    of how it should be. The suttas say that we should work to pervade the
                    whole world with lovingkindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and
                    equanimity - all beneficial qualities. If you already do not feel
                    animosity towards others then that is a positive step towards achieving
                    this end.

                    Perhaps
                    the question that should be asked as we get to grips with this practice
                    is not “Am I feeling the right emotion?” or “Am I sufficiently
                    emotional?” but simply “Do I care about these people?” In most cases, I
                    suspect, there are already people and other sentient beings for whom you
                    do care - perhaps deeply - and that you aspire always to act kindly and
                    unselfishly, then that is a very firm basis for development. Sustained
                    work will permit this seed of lovingkindness to grow and blossom into
                    unconditional mettā - where lovingkindness becomes integral to every
                    decision you take and is imprinted upon every action you perform
                    regardless of who it affects.

                    Meditation
                    techniques are relatively crude but useful devices that help us to
                    refine certain skills and develop particular qualities - but we must not
                    feel enslaved by them. If there is a section of the mettā technique
                    which you feel cannot be populated because, genuinely, there is no one
                    with whom you have difficulty then it is fine to work without that
                    section for a while… but if there is anyone for whom there remains the
                    slightest degree of animosity, irritability or resentment, then there
                    is still necessary work to be done.

                    This
                    is not mantra meditation. Mantra meditation is the continual mental
                    repetition of a single sound or phrase over and over again. The mantra
                    would provide the focus for one-pointedness (much like the point of
                    contact in the 4th stage of ānāpānasati) and would not be directed
                    towards another being. In most traditions, mantras usually do not have a
                    clear meaning, and many have no discernible meaning at all. The phrases
                    we have been using as we begin mettā bhāvanā are suggestions or
                    reminders of an attitude that we are trying to cultivate towards others;
                    they are always readily intelligible and are a practical device used to
                    evoke a specific response in the meditator which may then be directed
                    unconditionally to another being.

                    Difficult
                    as it may seem, it is both possible and necessary that we work to
                    extend lovingkindness to all sentient beings. Mettā is not really mettā
                    at all unless it is offered unconditionally. If we choose to selectively
                    bestow and withhold it, based only on our wishes, then this is
                    indicative that we are seeing others only in terms of what they can do
                    for us. That approach denies the interconnections that are
                    characteristic of our world. It places us at a fixed centre around which
                    everything else revolves and we arrogate the right to determine what is
                    of value and whom to respect.

                    People
                    are complex beings. We may habitually identify an individual by a
                    particular act (good or bad) but this can only ever be regarded as part
                    of the story. Lovingkindness Meditation does not require that we approve
                    of the unskilful actions that a person carries out; it does not even
                    require that we feel warmly towards his or her personality. It is,
                    instead, both an acknowledgement and a commitment that we have chosen to
                    inform all our actions with the quality of lovingkindness. It may not
                    be reciprocated, although that often happens, but in a sense this is
                    irrelevant.

                    In
                    choosing to orientate our outlook and behaviour towards kindness and
                    generosity we ensure that the optimum conditions are in place for
                    tranquillity and mental peace to arise. Our own minds will not be
                    debilitated by stress, anger and hatred. One practical aspect of this is
                    that we are likely to be less shaken by the unsavoury events that
                    sometimes arise throughout life; we will see them in perspective rather
                    than compounding the suffering we experience with our own anger and
                    frustration. This is a mundane effect, but the

                    reorientation of our viewpoint through the opening of the heart is crucial for spiritual development to take place.

                    None
                    of this is easy and many of us have an instinctive resistance to
                    unequivocally offering mettā to all. Try to remember that this is not
                    about condoning hurtful behaviour or approving of reprehensible acts; it
                    is about training ourselves to act skilfully. We are not in control of
                    how others choose to act, but we can make sure that we always work from
                    the best of motives. Lovingkindness Meditation is part of the training
                    that can help to make this a reality.


                    Contemplation - Day 20

                    116. Be
                    swift in doing good;

                    restrain
                    the mind from doing evil.

                    If
                    one is slow to do good

                    the
                    mind delights in evil.

                    117. If
                    one commits an evil act,

                    then
                    refrain from repeating it.

                    Do
                    not take pleasure in it:

                    for
                    painful is the accumulation of evil.

                    118. If
                    one commits a good act,

                    then
                    do it repeatedly.

                    Take
                    pleasure in it:

                    for
                    blissful is the accumulation of good.

                    119. Even
                    an evil-doer sees happiness

                    if
                    the fruit of his deed is yet to ripen.

                    But
                    when it matures,

                    then
                    they see suffering.

                    120. Even
                    a good-doer sees suffering

                    if
                    the fruit of his deed is yet to ripen.

                    But
                    when it matures,

                    then
                    they see happiness.

                    121. Don’t
                    think lightly of evil

                    saying,
                    “It will not come to me”.

                    Drop
                    by drop is the water jar filled.

                    Fools,
                    acting little by little,

                    fill
                    themselves with evil.

                    122. Don’t
                    think lightly of good

                    saying,
                    “It will not come to me”.

                    Drop
                    by drop is the water jar filled.

                    The
                    wise, acting little by little,

                    fill
                    themselves with good.

                    Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 1:37 PM
                    https://course.org/campus/mod/book/view.php?id=110


                    Friday - The Third Precept

                    1. The Third Precept

                    THE THIRD PRECEPT

                    kāmesu micchācārā veramani sikkhā padam samādiyāmi

                    I take the precept to abstain from sexual (or sensual) misconduct

                    This
                    rule of training, voluntarily entered into, is an undertaking to act
                    responsibly within our relationships. It is about valuing other people
                    and treating them with commitment and respect. It is an acknowledgement
                    of the damage caused to others and ourselves by engaging in sex outside
                    the context of a solid relationship. Our minds and those of others with
                    whom we engage cannot achieve tranquillity if they are filled with
                    deceit, jealousy, intrigue, and guilt. If we use other people for sexual
                    purposes in a casual manner we neglect to see them as full human
                    beings, and are not treating them with kindness and compassion. We mess
                    up their lives, having used them selfishly, and walk away. We mess up
                    our lives and face the consequences at the very least in terms of damage
                    to our equilibrium. If the process of meditation is about relief from
                    all suffering why do we choose to engage in causing unnecessary
                    suffering to other people and to ourselves? How easy is it for our minds
                    to settle in meditation when we are racked by shame, anger and guilt.
                    How conducive to peacefulness are the abusive practices some carry out
                    in the guise of sexual behaviour? How conducive to a stable harmonious
                    society, supportive of the practise of Dhamma, is unrestrained sexual
                    behaviour?

                    Some translators state that this precept should read:

                    I take the precept to abstain from sensual misconduct.

                    We
                    can look upon this as a deepening of the practice. It would include all
                    of the above plus what is generally known as guarding the sense doors.
                    We can abstain from indulgence and simplify our lives. We can use what
                    is necessary to live and strengthen our commitment to the serious
                    pursuit of working toward liberation - rather than indulging our senses
                    in transient things.

                    MARRIAGE

                    Often
                    the Third Precept is interpreted as condoning relationships only within
                    the context of marriage but until recently marriages have been a
                    secular rather than a religious affair in Buddhist countries. Marriage
                    still has the widest acceptability in terms of a socially sanctioned
                    long-term relationship and provides the optimum stability for the
                    rearing of children. There is great value in this for most lay people
                    and it should be encouraged and nurtured. Because it is so socially
                    acceptable it has the advantage of not setting one apart from, or
                    bringing one into conflict with, the wider community. This may lead to
                    more tranquil mind states than if one is constantly at odds with others.
                    One can see that this is very useful to the contemplative life.

                    In
                    some societies anything other than a legally constituted relationship
                    would be taboo and life would become a constant struggle against the
                    status quo if one did not accept the social norm. In the modern
                    developed world there are more choices which, as always, is a blessing
                    and a trap. Many who have relationships that would have been unthinkable
                    only a few years ago (or even today in other societies) manage to lead
                    moral stable and loving relationships unblessed by church or state and
                    in ways which do not provoke in them mental states conditioned by anger
                    and agitation.

                    Stable,
                    loving relationships, which are not based on indulgence and insularity,
                    can be a firm foundation in which spiritual development can take place.
                    This is not a cop-out and we must be careful that our behaviour is
                    always tempered by what tends to the good rather than merely following
                    the latest fashion or, conversely, holding rigidly to convention. Some
                    things will always be unhelpful and damaging. Our mental equilibrium is
                    so easily upset and no one can make much spiritual progress if they are
                    flitting between different partners and living a life based on
                    fickleness and sensual indulgence. Stability of relationship and
                    attention to ethics within that relationship are what is called for. The
                    simple questions ‘Does this behaviour harm?’ or ‘Does this behaviour
                    help?’ are usually all that are required.

                    Like
                    all of the precepts the Third Precept requires a context. If we look
                    back to the Buddha’s time or to cultures that are different from our own
                    then the idea of what constitutes sexual misconduct will vary. This is
                    not a question of moral relativism as there are absolutes: anything that
                    is harmful to others or ourselves represents unskilful behaviour. In
                    this context we are not simply concerned with the effects of our chosen
                    behaviour on the emotional and physical level; we are also concerned
                    with how it may effect our spiritual development. In the East and the
                    West people engage in practices which are damaging to themselves, their
                    partners and their communities; but as lay people we can choose to act
                    skilfully in this as in any other area of our lives.

                    One
                    of the things to consider (after the more obvious concerns about power
                    and consent) is the effect that particular sexual acts will have on the
                    equilibrium of the participants. Strong emotions, behaviour which put us
                    at odds with the community in which we live, lust, attachment and
                    craving, etc. all have a tendency to push out whatever space we have
                    made for the mind to settle in contemplation, tranquillity and
                    one-pointedness. If we are racked by guilt and craving we will be unable
                    to make much progress in the contemplative life. This may be more
                    important for some than for others dependent on the place that
                    meditation has for us and the urgency with which we wish to devote
                    ourselves to liberation. It is unlikely that promiscuous relationships,
                    for example, will provide anything other than turbulent mental states
                    for those involved (and perhaps a lack of consideration for the welfare
                    of any offspring) and would therefore be a hindrance rather than help on
                    this path of calm and insight.

                    Certain
                    acts are always detrimental. Rape and non-consensual sex are always
                    harmful. We will also find that promiscuity brings about more harmful
                    results than benefits particularly in relation to the mental states of
                    the participants. Treating other people as commodities cannot ever be
                    skilful nor can abusing any power, physical or mental, that we exercise
                    over them. For lay people meaningful long term relationships based on
                    mutual support, love and care may even be beneficial for their spiritual
                    development.

                    When
                    we look at books on Buddhist ethics we often find that the social mores
                    of the era or the culture of the writer are reflected in how the
                    precepts are interpreted. This sometimes leads to very concrete ideas
                    about which sexual acts are prescribed and which are proscribed. If we
                    return to the Pāli Canon we see that whilst the vinaya is very specific
                    for monks and nuns there are no similar lists for lay people. The
                    approach of listing what lay people should and should not do has its
                    merits but we should remember that the precepts are not commandments; we
                    can deepen our commitment and observance of them in the light of
                    experience. Whatever the era or culture, acts like adultery are wrong
                    because they rely on deceit and are likely to cause guilt for the
                    instigator and pain, quite probably, to all involved. We must be careful
                    not to blind ourselves to the damage that our egos can inflict,
                    however, and we should not simply do what ever we crave at the time. The
                    spiritual path is a commitment that requires steady attention to our
                    motivation in all our activities.

                    It
                    is useful to see sexual misconduct as part of a wider notion of sensual
                    misconduct. This means that we need to guard against excesses, craving
                    and attachment wherever we meet them. The sexual arena is particularly
                    important because of the strength of those attachments and cravings, but
                    in essence is no different to other arenas where we can also become
                    indulgent and engage in practices which shore up our self-view, blind us
                    to the needs of others, and prevent us from seeing reality because of
                    tendencies to indulge in fantasy.

                    When
                    we come to look at non-standard relationships the position is less
                    clear, and must take cognisance of the expectations and tolerance of the
                    community in which we live. If we are constantly battling against our
                    society or our activities are beyond the tolerance level of it, then
                    life will be spent in conflict and turbulence and this may prevent us
                    from developing positive mental states conducive to the pursuit of
                    enlightenment. This explains why some forms of behaviour may, quite
                    legitimately, be spiritually permissible in one society whilst being
                    taboo in another.

                    As
                    we consider the precepts and the other recommendations on behaviour
                    aimed at the laity, such as those contained in the sigalovada sutta, we
                    should always be aware that we remain the arbiter of what is skilful and
                    unskilful. We become our own authorities: we can accept the advice of
                    others but must test its validity against our own experience. If our
                    behaviour is conducive to wholesome and stable relationships founded on
                    love and respect then that may provide a fertile environment for the
                    nurturing of a meaningful and spiritual life. If the relationships we
                    choose are driven primarily by lust, jealousy and possession then it is
                    unlikely that spiritual progress will be made. As in all moral decisions
                    we need to ask in each case whether our activities are likely to help
                    or harm the spiritual development of those concerned. There may be many
                    forms of relationship that when conducted with integrity provide a
                    nurturing environment. Stability, balance, honesty and the types of
                    qualities embodied in the brahmavihāra practices are the bedrock of an
                    ethical relationship - whether Buddhist or otherwise.

                    Aware that all beings desire freedom from suffering

                    - I choose to honour and respect them.

                    Aware that commitment and stability is important

                    - I choose not to deceive or ill-treat others.

                    Aware that I seek happiness and peace

                    - I choose not to act in ways which produce guilt and shame.

                    https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=111


                    Contemplation - Day 21

                    123. The
                    merchant with rich goods and

                    little
                    protection avoids a perilous route.

                    So
                    should one avoid evil,

                    as
                    one who desires life avoids poison.

                    124. The
                    woundless hand can hold poison.

                    Poison
                    does not penetrate

                    where
                    there is no wound.

                    One
                    who does no evil

                    is
                    free from evil.

                    125. Evil
                    returns to one who harms

                    the
                    innocent, the pure and the faultless,

                    like
                    fine dust thrown against the wind.

                    126. Some
                    are born in the womb,

                    the
                    evil in woeful states,

                    the
                    good in blissful states.

                    The
                    stainless attain Nibbana.

                    127. Not
                    in the sky, mid-ocean

                    nor
                    a mountain cave.

                    Nowhere
                    on earth exists

                    a
                    refuge from your evil deed.

                    128. Not
                    in the sky, mid-ocean

                    nor
                    a mountain cave.

                    Nowhere
                    on earth exists

                    a
                    refuge from your death.

                    Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 1:39 PM
                    https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=218


                    Chant Workshop 3 (optional)

                    1. Chant Workshop 3

                    The
                    meditation practices we are using are drawn from the Theravāda
                    tradition which bases its teachings on the words of the Buddha and his
                    early followers as recorded in the Pāli Canon. Pāli is a written
                    liturgical language and is often also used for traditional chants that
                    many meditators find helpful as part of their spiritual practice. During
                    the course we will introduce a small number of these chants in Pāli or
                    in translated English form.

                    Over
                    the weeks the individual chants build to form the text for a puja, or
                    dedication ceremony, that some practitioners may wish to use as a way of
                    periodically rededicating their meditation practice. Please use the
                    chants if you find them helpful; please ignore them if you prefer.

                    CHANT 3: Iti Pi So

                    Ratanattaya Vandanā Gātha

                    iti’pi so bhagavā araham sammā sambuddho

                    vijjācarana sampanno

                    sugato lokavidhu

                    anuttaro purisadamma sārathi

                    satthā devamanussānam

                    buddho bhagavā’ti

                    svākkhāto bhagavatā dhammo

                    sanditthiko akāliko

                    ehipassiko opanayiko

                    paccattam veditabbo viññuhi’ti

                    supatipanno bhagavato sāvakasangho

                    ujupatipanno bhagavato sāvakasangho

                    ñāyapatipanno bhagavato sāvakasangho

                    sāmicipatipanno bhagavato sāvakasangho

                    yadidam cattāri purisayugāni

                    atthapurisapuggalā

                    esa bhagavato sāvakasangho

                    āhuneyyo pāhuneyyo

                    dakkhineyyo añjalikaraniyo

                    annuttaram puññakkhettam lokassā’ti

                    Verses in Praise of the Three Jewels

                    Such indeed is the Blessed One:

                    Exalted, Omniscient, Perfect in knowledge and conduct,

                    Fully accomplished, Knower of worlds,

                    Incomparable Guide for the training of persons,

                    Teacher of gods and humans, Enlightened, Blessed.

                    Well expounded is the Dhamma by the Blessed One:

                    to be self-realized, with immediate fruit,

                    inviting investigation, leading onward (to Nibbāna),

                    comprehended by the wise, each for oneself.

                    Of good conduct are the disciples of the Blessed One

                    Of upright conduct are the disciples of the Blessed One

                    Of wise conduct are the disciples of the Blessed One

                    Of gentle conduct are the disciples of the Blessed One

                    The disciples of the Blessed One

                    - these Four Pairs of Persons, the Eight Kinds of Individual -

                    are worthy of gifts, worthy of reverence;

                    an incomparable field of merit to the world.

                    Play this chant:

                     
                    -1:38

                     

                    Download link: https://course.org/mcaudio/c/3-Iti_pi_so.mp3

                    Last modified: Thursday, 13 September 2018, 4:39 PM
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