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    Inner Freedom Paid Member

    Today’s Daily Dharma, If we lack inner freedom, any intense sensory experience can generate strong attachments that entangle us. On the other hand, if we know how to perfectly maintain our inner freedom, we can experience all sensations within the pristine simplicity of the present moment, in a state of well-being that is free from grasping and expectation. More »
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    Researchers Point to Three Major Categories of Meditation Paid Member

    In her recent article on the Huffington Post, writer Jeanne Ball discusses the findings of various scientific studies on meditation.  Of the many interesting points in the piece, she notes an "emerging paradigm" in which researchers, through measuring the electrical activity in the brains of subjects as they engage in different meditative techniques, have identified three major categories of meditation.  The three categories are "controlled focus", "open monitoring", and "automatic self-transcending." More »
  • Thoughts on Buddhism and Prayer Paid Member

    I remember being very young and being given my first prayer wheel.  I wasn't given any explanation or  instruction aside from that it "had blessings in it" and that I was supposed to spin it clockwise.  I don't recall ever spinning the wheel for anything in particular, but I do remember spinning it like crazy, over and over, for years, "just because." Then, in about first grade, as I had been learning more and more from my classmates about this magical all-powerful fellow in the sky named God, who frankly, sounded a bit far-fetched to me, I was inevitably asked if I prayed.  My mind flashed to my countless hours with my prayer wheel, and for a second it seemed as if I had stumbled on to some common ground with my young Christian friends. I blurted out "Yes! I pray all the time!"  Then, however, I was asked, "Who do you pray to?" More »
  • See Beyond "Black and White" Paid Member

    Today's Daily Dharma, The causes of any conflict lie in strong attachment to certain views, and the core of Buddha’s teaching is of great help here. All phenomena, in addition to being transient, arise and disappear according to a complex set of conditions. When we apply this truth to conflict, we give up the simplistic, black-and-white picture through which conflict is usually described and perpetuated. Views about the “good guys” and the “bad guys” simply do not correspond to the reality. -Zarko Andricevic, "Peace: How Realistic Is It?" (Summer 2003) Read the complete article here. More »
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    How to sit Zen (and stretching excercises for the full lotus) Paid Member

    Wisdom Quarterly has a nice how-to on zazen, or Zen-style mediation. It begins with this: Zazen, the formal practice of seated meditation, is the cornerstone of Zen training. Za means "sitting." Zen —which derives from the Sanskrit dhyana, or jhana in the ancient Buddhist language Pali—means meditation. In its beginning stages, zazen is a practice of concentration, with a focus on following or counting the breath. But more than just concentrating, zazen is a powerful tool of self-inquiry, boundless in its scope and ability to reveal the true basis of reality. Through zazen we realize the unity of the self with all things, which has the potential to transform our lives and those of others. Practical guidance complete with diagrams will take you through the basics. One of my favorite guides for all things Zen is Robert Aitken's Taking the Path of Zen. It's one of those everything-you-wanted-to-know books. I remember looking through it years ago, before I ever visited a zendo, to be prepared for what to expect. Of course, there's no way to prepare and showing up and sitting is the only way that works. But understanding Zen form and practice from a seasoned teacher's point of view gives plenty of context. There are also very down-to-earth and practical instructions. Here's Aitken Roshi on zazen and your legs (I'm sure I don't have to explain), with diagrammed stretching exercises to prepare for the lotus position: "Legs are a problem. Few people, even children, even in Japan, are flexible enough to sit easily in the lotus position without painful practice..." More »
  • Compassion is the Source of Transformation Paid Member

    Today's Daily Dharma, "In terms of commitment, I think Buddhist practice is by its very nature social change. It cultivates compassion, which is the source of transformation. The word means "suffering with." Thus compassion arises from a deep place of receptivity and listening that is the beginning of healing. What we are talking about broadly is the healing of the world, a journey of a thousand years." -Paul Hawken, "The Movement With No Name" (Fall 2008) More »