A Kind Stab to the Heart

This week I have been inspired by something Ajahn Amaro said in a talk given at Stanford University [1] about his concerns that Western teachers not giving their students challenging teachings because they are unpopular, or hard to sell. He told an interesting story about the time that Ajahn Chah gave some teaching at the … Continue reading A Kind Stab to the Heart

Attention is Everything

The path seems long and complicated, and at times it can feel like the only way that any of our unskilful responses change is by being slowly ground out of us, one at a time. I won't lie to you, this is sometimes the case, but it isn't the only mechanism for change. The Buddha pointed out that there is a simple principle that we should be employing, and it so simple that it can easily be overlooked as important. But when you do some work with it, you can quickly find out how effective it can be.

Letting Go Too Soon

Buddhist practice is the practice of letting go; of thoughts, feelings, habits, opinions, even our sense of who we think we are. Unsurprisingly letting go and Buddhism are pretty much synonomous. Ajahn Chah famously said: “Do everything with a mind that lets go. Do not expect any praise or reward. If you let go a … Continue reading Letting Go Too Soon

The Tides of Conceiving

In the time that I have been exploring the role of choice as a crucial element of practice, it has given me a new perspective and understanding of the various skills that we develop as part of the path. As well as coming to appreciate how important it is to be able to let go … Continue reading The Tides of Conceiving

No Person, No Task, No Start, No End

Whenever we find ourselves struggling to raise some enthusiasm for a dull chore or persistence in a long, drawn out activity, the Buddhist approach to motivation often involves recalling the principles of not-self. Feelings are not-self, so we tell ourselves that the feeling of wanting to give up is not-self and we try to let … Continue reading No Person, No Task, No Start, No End

Uncovering the Cancel Mind

After writing last week's blog post I decided to do a little research into Seung Sahn, the Zen teacher who I quoted a conversation between himself and a student. He certainly seemed to have a few unusual elements in his biography, such as spending five years in the army after his ordination (even monks were … Continue reading Uncovering the Cancel Mind

Finding The Middle Way

The limitations of lockdown have given me, and many other practictioners, the opportunity to spend our now spare time doing some extra work that we don’t usually have the time or space to focus on. For me this has involved some gentle striving, a bit of finding my edges and seeing if I can go … Continue reading Finding The Middle Way

Noticing Nibbana

It might seem like a strange time to suggest we go looking for Nibbana; you might wonder just how likely anyone is to notice it amongst the chaos of our current situation. But I’m not talking about trying to achieve enlightenment, the nibbana I am talking about are those occasional moments of peace that we … Continue reading Noticing Nibbana

Let’s Talk About Not-Self

Anatta, which means not-self, is one of the most important concepts in Buddhism, the definitive one even perhaps. To understand it opens the doors to growth in your practice, and yet to understand it fully requires one of the hardest of things to do - not thinking about it. Descartes famously said "I think therefore … Continue reading Let’s Talk About Not-Self