Thursday, June 04, 2009

Weekly Meditation - Kindness & Compassion

"Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion." -- Kindness, Clarity, and Insight: The Fourteenth Dalai Lama, His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso

Little reminders of how to demonstrate your principles and philosophies in everyday life are important to keeping us on the right path.

A common thread among most of the world's religions and philosophies is kindness and compassion toward others.

This quote by His Holiness the Dalai Lama reminds me that kindness and compassion are not just to be shared with people like me, but all people. Whether people believe what I believe, agree with my opinions, or share the same likes and dislikes as me is irrelevant. What is common to all people is an appreciation of kindness and compassion directed toward them.

This week, my practice will be to concentrate on kindness and compassion toward everyone I work with, live with, and communicate with. It might be tough (especially being nice to those I work with :) but it will make their day and my day just a little bit brighter.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism

Buddhism's Four Noble Truths define the causes of human suffering and trouble:

  1. Dukkha, The Nature Of Suffering

  2. Samudaya, Desire; Suffering's Origin

  3. Nirodha, Ending Of Suffering and Frustration

  4. Mārga, "The Way" Leading Out Of Suffering (The Noble Eightfold Path)

The basis for mankind's difficulties is essentially defined as the nature of Suffering:

"This is the noble truth of the origin of suffering: it is this craving which leads to renewed existence, accompanied by delight and lust, seeking delight here and there, that is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving for existence, craving for extermination."

According to the Pali Tipitaka, the Four Noble Truths were the first teaching of Gautama Buddha after attaining Nirvana.

The Buddha preached a way of life more than a new religion. He achieved enlightenment through meditation and meditation, which was the basis of his teachings.

Buddhism leans on "experiential" knowledge of Truth. It stresses that you need to be transformed by a direct experience of Truth or God and the way to this is meditation. The Buddha became enlightened through meditation and so Buddhism religion stresses this aspect. Meditation has many benefits in day to day life and you will increase your well being by taking up this practice.

Understanding the Four Noble Truth's leads not only to an understanding of Bhuddhism, but opens the doors to more deeper, more effective, and more meaningful meditations and reflections on God and Truth.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Eastern Philosophy, Materialism, Monism, and Consumerism

One of the key aspects of Eastern Philosophy is personal experience, not belief or faith in any certain principles.

One of the main appeals that Eastern philosophies and spirituality have for the intelligent and spiritually-minded Westerner is their more "mystical", "esoteric", and Monastic understanding of reality. For searchers after truth previously only allowed the sterile choice between Skeptical Materialism on the one hand, and dogmatic religious (theistic) Dualism on the other, this is a welcome choice.

Eastern monism has thus come to represent a third alternative for those who find Materialism and Monotheistic dualism options that are two shallow and limiting.

Historically, metaphysics in the Western (or Western and Middle Eastern) world has tended to maintain a tension between religion and secularism - between monotheistic religions like Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Bahai'ism on the one hand, and philosophical and humanistic materialism and scientism in the modern world on the other. The philosophical and metaphysical distinction between dualism and materialism that has so much shaped Western thinking goes back to the ancient Greeks, Pythagoreanism and Platonism representing the dualist position, Atomism and Epicureanism the Materialistic, and Aristotleanism and Stoicism as a sort of holistic or quasi-holistic "third way" between the two. To some extent this is also the case in China as well, although not to so great an extreme.

In Chinese thought the metaphysical tension seems to be between Materialism and Monism, the result being a Holistic understanding of reality not as a hierarchy or a duality, but as the complementary play of the bipolar forces of yin and yang. Although China assimilated foreign religions and ideologies like Buddhism, Marxism, and most recently Consumerism, she has shown little inclination or interest in the theistic religions of other lands, perhaps because their rigidly dualistic nature is at variance with the intrinsic Chinese tendency to holism.

Since the Beatles' flirtation with Hindu Gurus like Mahareshi Yogi and Prabhupada in the late '60s, the presence and popularity of Indian spiritual teachers or Gurus has made a small but significant contribution to the religious consciousness of the West.

Lets hope that continues!

Monday, April 06, 2009

A Pure Body Is The Foundation Of Meditation

Meditation is the underlying key to what is embodied by Eastern Philosophy. And the key to meditation is a pure body.

Our bodies are physical mechanisms – however the mind and the body are thoroughly interconnected. You cannot distinguish between the mind and the body. You cannot say that this is where the body ends and the mind begins. Hence whatever affects the body will also affect the mind – for better or for worse.

With the body being a physical mechanism, it is affected by the food that we eat. As such, we should take care as to what food we ingest as it will affect the body as well as the mind.

Osho Rajneesh talks about 3 guidelines as regards food:

1) One is that we should not overeat, as that will make us feel lethargic. When we overeat then all the energy of the body is directed to digesting the food and there is little energy left for other activities.

2) A second point that he makes is that the food should not be intoxicating. Intake of large amounts of alcohol will result in putting the cells of the body to sleep and this will also have an effect on the mind.

3) A third point that he makes is that the food should not be over stimulating. This is a particularly difficult step for me to take as I am used to drinking large amounts of coffee every day. However it would be best for me as well as for you to limit the amount of caffeinated drinks.

This is as regards food. However we should also take a moderate amount of exercise everyday.

Osho says that each cell in the body expands as we take exercise and makes us fell alive. There is no need to overdo it. We should not take an excess of rest or an excess of exercise. But a moderate amount of daily exercise will clear the blockages in the body and help us meditate better.

For people who are old or invalid, Osho suggests that we turn this into a meditation. Lie down on the bed and imagine that you are taking exercise such as jogging or climbing a mountain. If you imagination is strong you will find that your cells get a workout even though you are lying flat on your back. It is the same as having a frightening dream. When you dream, our heart beat changes and we may begin to be short of breath as we get caught up in the frightening dream. So also when we imagine that we are taking exercise our cells of the body expand and are invigorated.

Osho Rajneesh says that the purification of the body is the first step to meditation. Other steps are purification of the mind and purification of the emotions or feelings. This will allow us to move to the center and we will then be able to tackle the other issues related to gaining samadhi.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Confucius and "The Great Learning"

Though he lived in times when there was constant warfare between neighboring states, Confucius began as a public teacher, and his house became a gathering place for young people who wished to learn from the lessons of the past. One of his overriding concerns was with opening up education to all, emphasizing character building rather than vocational training.

While his goal was to bring peace and order to states, his words had little effect during his lifetime. His ideas subsequently became the foundation for most of the concern for humanity found in subsequent Chinese philosophy. Unfortunately, his name has often been used as a cloak for despotic rule, by a false analogy between a dictator and the head of a family.

"The path for learning greatness is to illuminate the goodness in man, to bring out what is best in people, and to achieve the highest excellence. Once the true point of departure on this path is found, thought becomes clear. A calm imperturbability yields the tranquility needed for careful deliberation. That deliberation will achieve the desired goal."

Things have their roots and their branches. Affairs have their ends and their beginnings. To know what is first and what is last will lead near to what is taught in The Great Learning.

Confucius lived from about 551 BCE to 479 BCE. He was born with the family name K'ung. Through the respect he gained for his teachings, he began to be referred to as Grand Master K'ung — K'ung Fu-tzu. He said that at the age of fifteen he bent his mind to learning, and he continued to express a deep admiration for learning throughout his life. Confucius married at 19, his son being born a year later. Subsequently he had two daughters, one of whom died when she was quite young.

From The Great Learning:

"The ancients wishing to exhibit goodness throughout the kingdom, first ordered well their own states. To order well their own states, they first brought order into their families. To bring order into their families, they first cultivated their persons. Wishing to cultivate their persons, they first rectified their hearts. To rectify their hearts, they first sought to be sincere in their thoughts. Wishing to be sincere in their thoughts, they first extended to the utmost their knowledge. Such extension of knowledge lay in the investigation of things."

"The investigation of things rounded out knowledge. Their knowledge being rounded out, their thoughts were sincere. Their thoughts being sincere, their hearts were then rectified. Their hearts being rectified, their persons were cultivated. Their persons being cultivated, order was brought into their families. Their families being in order, their states were rightly governed. Their states being rightly governed, the whole kingdom was made tranquil and happy."

You can read more about Confucius and other Easter Philosophies at: Eastern Philosophy and Meditation

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Common Thread, And The Answer To Everything!

Eastern philosophies and religions all have one thing in common - in fact, it's the common thread among all religions: making sense of the world and our place in it.

Philosophy and religion offer us answers to the inexplicable, and a path towards answers or enlightenment, and happiness.

Meditation is often the vehicle we use to communicate with what ever power and spirituality we believed in.

One of the great truths among these philosophies, and our key to happiness, is acceptance.

Acceptance is the answer to all my problems of today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation - some fact of my life - unacceptable to me, and I can find no peace, serenity, or happiness until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God's world by mistake. Until I could accept this, I could not find true serenity; unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.

I used to spend so much time and energy trying to change the things I could not change, it never once occurred to me to simply accept them as they were.

Now when things in my life are not going the way I planned them, or downright bad things happen, I can remind myself that whatever is going on is not happening by accident. There's a reason for it and it is not always meant for me to know what that reason is.

That change in attitude has been the key to happiness for me. I know I am not the only who has found that serenity.

And so today, when I meditate, I focus on Acceptance.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hinduism and the Purpose of Life

Hindu philosophy subscribes to the notion that we can seek what we want, that all paths can be legitimately pursued.

At the heart of Hinduism is this idea: What you want most, you can have. In fact, not only can you have them, in a sense, they are already yours.

(Consider Siddhartha's advice to Govinda, "Perhaps you seek too much.")

Is a person just a body? a personality? Hinduism says something more - an indestructible infinite center of being that never dies and is without limits.

The infinite center of every life is the hidden self. The Atman who is no less than Brahman, the Godhead. You are all three: body, personality, Atman-Brahman.

The present condition of your soul (confusion or serenity) is a product of your past decisions. You have made yourself what you are.

Every persons gets what that person deserves--even though decisions are freely arrived at, there is no chance in the universe. Karma is the middle way between determinism and indeterminacy.

But suppose you say you don't feel particularly infinite today--where is this? It is buried and it is the task of the following lectures to show how it can be uncovered.

In this life you can seek what you want. In order to achieve meaning and significance, there are four basic ways.

It is important to realize that all persons need go through all stages, and they will be left alone if they pursue and enjoy any one of the following paths.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

he Main Concepts of Confucianism

Confucianism has two main concepts: the twin concepts of jen and li are often said to constitute the basis of Confucianism.

Jen (wren): human heartedness; goodness; benevolence, man-to-man-ness; what makes man instinctively human (that which gives human beings their humanity).

The first principle of Confucianism is to act according to jen: it is the ultimate guide to human action.

Jen is a sense for the dignity of human life--a feeling of humanity towards others and self-esteem for yourself.

There is the belief that jen can be obtained; indeed, there is the belief in the natural perfectibility of man. Hence, he rejects the way of human action where one satisfies likes and avoids dislikes.

Such feeling applies to all men--not just one nation or race. It is the foundation of all human relationships.

Li (lee): principle of gain, benefit, order, propriety; concrete guide to human action.

Confucius recognized that you need a well ordered society for wren to be expressed.

Two basic meanings to li: (1) concrete guide to human relationships or rules of proper action that genuinely embody jen and (2) general principle of social order or the general ordering of life.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Eastern Philosophy and Oneness

Eastern Philosophy offers much to the west even though there is a huge difference in the thoughts of both. Buddhism, Hinduism and Taoism are among the most influencing philosophies that come from the east, and are largely based on the concept of oneness. These philosophies provide remarkable alternates to the western concepts, which are mostly originated from Greek, Socrates and Plato.

As Oneness being the belief and the most important principle of eastern philosophy, it always gives the message of GOD with different names. It basically tells that you are a unit of the sole power. Thought the general concepts remains the same but still there are numerous differences that are noticed within eastern philosophies. These differences not only prevail among people of different religions but also they exist among the people of same religion. Besides the unanimous concept of Oneness eastern philosophies also have the same idea about energy.

Taoists, Hipies and Hindus call it Chi, vibrations and Chakras respectively. The basic idea is that energy is neutral and it exists in everything, which is a reflection of the western terminology that says “energy can neither be created nor destroyed” but it changes the form and its shape.

Humans not perfect, as GOD is another common thought between east and west. Though there are few similar concepts found but as a whole the eastern philosophies have large differences and conflicts with the western ones. They hold the concept of Cosmic Oneness and hence the presence of “GOD” in eastern philosophies is taken as a whole.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Confucius and Confucianism

Confucius (551-479 B.C.) sought to impose an integrated socio-ethical order in an attempt to secure the peace among warring states in China.

“There is nothing more visible than what is secret, and nothing more manifest than what is minute.”

Confucius thought the foundation of social order is to be based on the jen or “human-heartedness” of the chün tzu or “superior man.” The path to jen, the highest virtue, is reached through the practice of li, the principles of social order. The ruler is an ideal man or superior man, a chün tzu, who governs by jen.

Confucius’ ideas gained influence through successive generations of his students and were finally adopted during the Han dynasty six centuries later.

Several talented and influential disciples adopted Confucius’ philosophy during his time, but apparently Confucius, himself, never obtained the opportunity to apply his cultural changes
from high office.

“I know how it is that the path of the Mean is not understood:—The men of talents and virtue go beyond it, and the worthless do not come up to it.”

Friday, January 09, 2009

Buddhist Meditation: Buddha's Four Noble Truths

Bhuddist meditation, as you'll read below, is something that can be applied to our everyday lives to alleviate the stresses that we all feel.

Not long after his enlightenment, Buddha elucidated the "Four Noble Truths" in his first instruction to his disciples. Put simply, these truths go on to explain how:

(1) all who live suffer,
(2) suffering is a result of self,
(3) suffering can be avoided, and
(4) suffering can be extinguished by the "Eightfold Path."

"...and did the thought never come to you that also you are subject to death, that also you cannot escape it?"
"Thus has it been said by the Buddha, the Enlightened One: It is through not understanding, not realizing four things, that I, Disciples, as well as you, had to wander so long through this round of rebirths. And what are these four things? They are the Noble Truth of Suffering, the Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering, the Noble Truth of the Extinction of Suffering, the Noble Truth of the Path that leads to the Extinction of Suffering."

In the teachings and discipline of Buddhism, as with much of Eastern philosophy, one can find both comfort, and put to rest questions that all of us have wrestled with for much of our lives.

Meditating on some of the teachings has enabled me to achieve a serenity and peace of mind that I value greatly. More than ever, in these times of financial uncertainty, terrorism, strife, civil and religious wars, peace of mind through meditation helps keep me sane.