FEELING FEAR, FULLY: full moon - 23rd April, 2024

"Whoever has cut all that tethers
and found fearlessness,
who is beyond attachments
and defilements,
I recognise as a great being."

DHAMMAPADA v. 397

The idea of fearlessness is indeed attractive. How might we realise it? An initial approach could be to try avoiding anything we find frightening. Though it doesn't take a lot of insight to see avoidance strategies as unrealistic. Or, we could make the effort to wilfully repress feelings of fear. Such an approach is understandable in the case of children who don't yet have the faculties to reflect upon the consequences of denial. As adults, hopefully, we have learnt that when energy is denied, sooner or later it comes back to trip us up. If we follow the Buddha's advice, we will exercise our spiritual faculties – faith, energy, embodied mindfulness, collectedness, discernment – so as to be able to fully feel the feeling of fear: neither denying it nor indulging in it. With great patience, we keep training ourselves to truly meet fear, as it arises, in open-hearted awareness, because we are interested in knowing it accurately.

Q: Can You Expand On, ‘Imbalance Can Also Be Beautiful’?

(approx. 7 minutes) KEYWORDS: “I have been reading this verse recently and wondered if you can expand a bit on, ‘imbalance also being beautiful’, and if you can offer any examples.” Dhammapada verse 194, Ikebana, Buddhist Society Summer School, forms, space, spirit, forest monastery, beautiful aspiration, sincere interest, relevant questions, patience, emotionally illiterate, intuitively blind, commitment, modesty, humility, soft powers, subtle beauty, materialism.

Q: Dealing With Entitled People And Their Hurtful Remarks

(approx. 10 minutes) Keywords: "Sometimes I receive hurtful remarks from difficult participants." Unconditional, aspirations, other people, subtext, heart capacity, hurt, contracted heart, projection, view, don’t be afraid to suffer, dukkha is a message, pay attention, Four Noble Truths, Dhammapada verse 228, backlog of denied pain, fear of criticism, caution, gentleness, clinging, strategies of avoidance, live simply, eating, sleeping, not knowing two things, discipline attention, indulgence and denial, suffer accurately, forbearance, resilience, strength.

EMBRACING DILEMMAS: full moon - 25th January, 2024

"Silence does not denote profundity
if you are unaware and untrained.
Like one holding scales,
a sage weighs things up,
wholesome and unwholesome,
and comes to know
both the inner and outer worlds.
Therefore the sage is called wise.
"

DHAMMAPADA v. 268-9

We all know what it is like to feel challenged by dilemmas. Should we go in this direction or in that direction? Should we take sides with her opinion or with his? If significant consequences are associated with the decision we make, the dilemma can feel weighty. From a practice perspective this doesn't have to be a problem. The intensity generated by the challenge can be a cause for increased open-hearted awareness. It depends on how and where we meet the challenge. Cultivating our refuge in the Buddha, doesn't mean merely having great ideas about how to handle difficulties. It more helpfully means strictly observing precepts, and investing in sensitive, just-knowing awareness. The heart of compassionate awareness potentially has the space to receive life's dilemmas and be nourished by them, not weakened. Dukkha does not have to denote something going wrong. It is a message. 'Pay attention here!' With right effort we receive into our hearts the difficult feelings that a dilemma brings – receiving them fully, without reactively taking sides. This is not avoiding making decisions; it is an alternative approach to making decisions.