A conversation about God: Can a Buddhist use the word ‘God’?

Even after fifty five years I still find, like you that my word for that awe-inspiring, all-pervasive sense of benevolent presence is ‘God’, yet like you all my spiritual connections are Buddhist and the Buddha’s teachings are what I live by. The majority of western Buddhists are not from that camp I think – there experiences with God and God language are not positive and often never were. It is a very interesting area isn’t it? Continue reading A conversation about God: Can a Buddhist use the word ‘God’?

Can I listen to music when I meditate? Or use an object to focus on?

Some people are not able to engage properly with vipashyana because they just haven’t enough Shamata [calm abiding], and sometimes the reason is that they are too tense and so relaxation needs to be their first step.
Others are too loose so focusing on a single object helps to bring the focus back to a single point in order to settle and integrate the mind and body enough to be able to develop vipashyana. Continue reading Can I listen to music when I meditate? Or use an object to focus on?

Does Awareness – Openness Clarity Sensitivity – disappear during deep sleep?

Queen Shrimala in the Shrimaladevi Sutra says to the Buddha, there are two great mysteries that are hard to understand – first how the chitta (heart-mind) is primordially pure and second how what is primordially pure can become obscured. Continue reading Does Awareness – Openness Clarity Sensitivity – disappear during deep sleep?

frozen wave against sunlight

How should we interpret the word ‘Chitta’ – the heart-mind – as we take our understanding and practice deeper?

‘Mind’, ‘heart’ and ‘awareness’ all work in various contexts – but not in a particularly precise way – but look out for when mind seems to be taking you into your head and thinking… Continue reading How should we interpret the word ‘Chitta’ – the heart-mind – as we take our understanding and practice deeper?

multiethnic couple meditating together in park

What does the word ‘bliss’ mean in connection with love & compassion teachings?

I wonder if this is a question about what bliss means exactly in this context. It is likely that it is this word that is confusing you. We tend to think of bliss as an intense version of a strongly excited state of being happy. If so then its not really the right word here…. It doesn’t help others for you to be overwhelmed by their pain and suffering – it helps them for you to bring your heart and its natural qualities of connection – your calm and compassionate presence… Continue reading What does the word ‘bliss’ mean in connection with love & compassion teachings?

tealight candle on human palms

How should we practise for those who have died? Do we focus on their ‘old’ identity? Should we expand the practice to all beings too?

When someone is in our heart they are always in our heart – through life through death through all their lifetimes and all our lifetimes too. That is how the Bodhisattva vow works, that is why we can make a vow to bring all beings to Awakening. It makes sense because we are connected with all beings in our hearts whatever life circumstances they are in or identities they have adopted. Continue reading How should we practise for those who have died? Do we focus on their ‘old’ identity? Should we expand the practice to all beings too?

What if rituals feel contrived to me? Am I still welcome in the sangha?

Ritual is different from simple ceremonies. If properly conducted it makes things happen – it shapes the universe if you like. It isn’t just me doing something from my own side – or a whole lot of people doing something from their own side. The universe is changed by the ritual – it’s become a different reality in some sense… Continue reading What if rituals feel contrived to me? Am I still welcome in the sangha?

person holding red candle in a dark room

How do we transform our negative actions into positive actions that benefit others?

We are uniquely connected to all other beings in the same kind of way that every point in space is uniquely connected to all other points in space. If we damage our connection with others through our unskilful actions their mandala registers that Continue reading How do we transform our negative actions into positive actions that benefit others?