Punya is rather misleadingly translated as merit but since punya belongs to us, it is our personal wealth and power, which we can give away for the benefit of others. In order to give to others in a way that will truly benefit them, we have to think about what is the most effective way of using our punya… Continue reading What Does Accumulating ‘Merit’ Mean? Understanding Punya & the Mysterious Power of Goodness
We express our presence through our body, actions, movements and speech. We express it in our bearing, our posture and the way we do things. Our presence expresses itself in the way we take our place in the world, the way we take our seat. Continue reading The gift of being ‘fully present’
The seven branches of prayer begin with salutations, which traditionally take the form of bowing and prostrations. The idea is that we honour the Awakened ones with our body, speech and mind, giving up our pride and egocentricity in order to be open to the vision of the Buddhas. So the gesture of salutation or bowing is one of acknowledging, aligning, honouring and celebrating. Continue reading What are the Seven Branches of Prayer?
There are three ordinary ideas that we have that make karma seem particularly strange but which are ultimately called into question in Buddhism. The first is that people are very separate from the material world; the second is that the present and the future are very separate; the third is that different beings and different locations in space are very separate. Continue reading Three Ordinary Ideas Called into Question by Karma in Buddhism
Lama Shenpen: I find myself wondering what exactly we mean by ‘imagination’. We use the term in various ways. To start with we use it for a faculty we have, the faculty that intelligence has to create – to be creative and to explore possibilities just because we can imagine them – and then come up with something more as if from nowhere. It is … Continue reading How can we use our imaginative faculty to good effect in Dharma practice?
First of all we need to know what a Pure Land is and what it means. Eventually we learn that the pure land is nothing other than our true nature. The pure land manifests in the heart when we realise that our true nature is our Buddha nature. So why call this a pure land? Why a place? We are Buddha nature. We are expressions of Buddha nature so why talk about it as if it were a Pure Land? Eventually it’s a matter of seeing this world we are in now as being the Pure Land. Continue reading Long Read Part 1: What is a Pure Land? And Why pray to be reborn there?
You could think of it as a kind of distorted compassion. Having failed to recognise openness, clarity and sensitivity as the true nature of reality, avidya tries to protect a separate individual self from the overwhelming nature of these qualities. Continue reading The power of Avidya – primordial ignorance – is an expression of the fundamental quality of sensitivity.
There’s the teaching, and, of course it has to come from a teacher, and there’s a time. But if the teacher teaches at one time and it’s recorded and transcribed, then it’s like it’s happening over a long time. It happened at one moment, or at one event, but then it actually kind of reverberates. If you then think about the nature of reality, and about time… is time real? If it’s not real, then actually all the reverberations are happening at the same time. So the time of the teaching is the whole time that it lasts until it stops reverberating, it’s one time. That’s a very inspiring thought, isn’t it? Continue reading The Five Certainties & the Power to Gather
People often ask how to balance caring for others while looking after ourselves. If we look in our hearts and realise that what we really want is the happiness of others, then we may feel inspired to try and make everyone happy. What often happens though is that we can’t do it: instead we get exhausted and decide that what we really need is to look after ourselves. But that doesn’t sound like Bodhisattva activity does it? Continue reading How can we balance caring for others while looking after ourselves?
How do you feel when you open yourself to the suffering of others? Does it leave you with a hopeless feeling? Do you find yourself closing off very quickly? Since others are always going to suffer is it possible ever to experience complete joy and freedom from suffering? The Buddha, the Awakened One, said it was… Continue reading How do you feel when you open to the suffering of others?