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?

time lapse photography of people walking on pedestrian lane

Three Ordinary Ideas Called into Question by Karma in Buddhism

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

Pure Lands Part 2: Mantra and Pure Lands

Saying their name, it’s as if we are invoking them and then recognising that they have a power to connect to you. If it’s an Enlightened Being, they have the power to connect you to your own Awakening, the Mandala of Awakening. You could call it the ‘Samadhi of Awakening’. The Pure Lands are a special kind if samadhis created by Awakened beings for other beings to enter. So they are actually a special kind of shamatha and vipassana. Continue reading Pure Lands Part 2: Mantra and Pure Lands

mandala principle, boundaries, Tibetan Buddhism, Lama Shenpen Hookham UK Buddhist Teacher

Mandala Principle & Boundaries: Boundaries feel threatening to me, what aren’t I getting?

Mandalas are a way of describing the world of our experience in which everything is appearing and yet is ungraspable. The only reason we experience anything is because we can distinguish it from anything else. If it were all uniform with no differentiation it would not be experience would it? It wouldn’t be anything. Continue reading Mandala Principle & Boundaries: Boundaries feel threatening to me, what aren’t I getting?

How can we balance caring for others while looking after ourselves?

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?

What’s the difference between ‘personal mandala’ and ‘ego mandala’?

Even though our experience of it is distorted, we have access to its qualities already. They shine through our confusion and are what lead us out of it. We need to learn to be subtle about recognising what are the Buddha qualities and trusting them, and what is ego grasping and letting that go. While we are still only on the path, it’s not easy to distinguish between them. Continue reading What’s the difference between ‘personal mandala’ and ‘ego mandala’?

Auspiciousness: is labelling things as auspicious mere superstition and more delusion?

So there is something to ponder about here. If our usual view of the cosmos in which we grasp at entities fixed in time and space actually turns out to be deluded, then how do the events of our lives unfold as if in time and space? What is the connection between things that are not things and are not there? Continue reading Auspiciousness: is labelling things as auspicious mere superstition and more delusion?

What is the difference between commitment and not seeing the reality of  impermanence?

If impermanence meant that everything changed all the time so there is no point in doing anything, then life would be pretty meaningless wouldn’t it?
What gives life meaning is connecting to our Heart Wish and aligning our intentions with it.  As we align we commit to a particular direction and then let go into that direction and see what happens.  When we make a commitment to others we want them to believe in and trust our commitment to our intention and for them to co-operate with us on that basis.
Continue reading What is the difference between commitment and not seeing the reality of  impermanence?