Q: Could The Mind Actually Become Our Friend?

(approx. 12 minutes) KEYWORDS: "Could the mind actually become our friend? At what point should we say....’enough, leave it be. Enough work has been done'?" There must come a point when we no longer need to keep looking back for the clearance of Dukkha.” Doubt, old pain, Ajahn Chah, friends, liking, trusting, honesty, stories, patient endurance, bhava tanha, obstruction, abstraction, balanced practice, allowing practice to happen, ‘doing the practice’, bowing, rituals, going for refuge, selflessness, ‘my way’, recovering, Aligning Meditation, disembodied, the unknown, limited disposition, open-hearted, befriending.

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: Observing Impermanence Produces Fear In Me. How Do I Skilfully Work With This?

(approx. 15 minutes) KEYWORDS: Q: "I can see impermanence in my daily life. This creates a lot of fear instead of ease. How do I work with this in a skilful manner?" Fear, running away, surprise, secure, uninspected relationship with life, Buddhism, consoling message, stories, insurance policies, distractions, avoidance, mental, emotional, physical, relational, preparing ourselves, solitude, 3-4-5 framing, storehouse of goodness, untangling the knot of deluded selfhood, 4 Brahman Viharas, exercise, refreshing, walking, swimming, kalyanamitta, spiritual companionship, joining groups, opening gradually, fully feeling uncertainty, overwhelmed, speaking truth, naïve, wild swimming, serious challenge.

Q: A Contemplative Perspective On Compulsive Stress Eating

(approx. 15 minutes) KEYWORDS: Q: “I know from past experiences that increased food intake never genuinely makes me feel better. Might you have any advice? Evolutionary biologists, psychologists, demonize desire, wanting, craving, wholesome desires, enemy, smoking, breaking the habit, basic skills, 5 spiritual faculties, faith, kamma, energy, intensity, embodied mindfulness, discipline attention, discernment, indriya samvara, skilful composure, containing, respecting intensity, hiri and ottappa, conscience, lokapala, protectors of the world, skilful shame and fear of the consequences of shamelessness, guilt, progress, unruly heart energy, competent, ill-will, truly responsible.

SEEKING FREEDOM FROM FEAR: full moon - 24th February, 2024


"To many places beings withdraw
to escape from fear:
to mountains, forests,
parklands and gardens;
sacred places as well.
But none of these places
offer true refuge,
none of them can free us from fear."

DHAMMAPADA v 188-9

If we are always looking outside for a way to escape fear, we are looking in the wrong place. We might find a degree of temporary freedom, however, the Buddha's teachings are pointing inwards. They are pointing towards a perspective on fear that means you don't have to become afraid. This doesn't mean you don't feel fear. If you see someone putting suspicious powder in your tea, you should be afraid to drink it. The freedom that our wise teachers are talking about is the freedom found in a heart that can remain wide open and refuse to enact old habits of clinging. It means feeling what you feel without being defined by those feelings.