on practice

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    A Caregiver's Story Paid Member

    Julia was no one’s beloved friend. Imagine that. Her family was in Oregon and they didn’t know that she had already spent most of her short life trying to kick drugs. And she didn’t want them to know. I first met her at an NA meeting [Narcotics Anonymous]. I had been clean for about two years. But Julia kept slipping. Kicking and slipping. Meditation was part of our NA meeting. Even before that, in rehab, they taught meditation. I started going to a Buddhist center close to the church where we had the meetings. When Julia was clean, she liked to come to the meditations. When she was using, she’d never come. I once asked her why. She told me that meditation was “too naked.” But she had a little coral Buddha around her neck and she never took it off. More »
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    On Being a True Friend Paid Member

    A dying person most needs to be shown as unconditional a love as possible, released from all expectations. Don’t think you have to be an expert in any way. Be natural, be yourself, be a true friend, and the dying person will be reassured that you are really with them, communicating with them simply and as an equal, as one human being to another. I have said, “Show the dying person unconditional love,” but in some situations that is far from easy. We may have a long history of suffering with the person, we may feel guilty about what we have done to the person in the past, or anger and resentment at what the person has done to us. More »
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    A Caregiver’s Story Paid Member

    I’d been working as a hospice volunteer for about six years when my friend Nando fell ill. We had been lovers for many years and though we were separated, we were still close friends. And then one day she collapsed, fainted, and was taken to the hospital. It turned out to be leukemia. First she spent a lot of time at Stanford Medical Center, getting chemotherapy. That period was extremely painful for her. Her chances of survival were low, because she had a pretty rare form of leukemia. But she was really going for it, trying to do anything she needed to do. I remember some horrendous times. I found her once crawling across the room, moaning in pain and dragging this IV stand behind her. She told me, “This is how it is most of the time”—excruciatingly painful. More »
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    September 11: Practice and Perspectives Paid Member

      Buddhists Respond to Terrorism: What We've Been Practicing For by Thanissaro Bhikkhu Welcome to the Real World by Judith L. Lief Waking Up the Nation by Thich Nhat Hanh More »
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    Bursting the Bubble of Fear Paid Member

    The feeling that things are out of sync and that there is too much to do is not new. As Buddha pointed out over 2,600 years ago, we'll always have to deal with the fact that life entails pain and suffering. Perhaps it's that we don't really want to have any problems that makes Our current time seem so full of distress. Many people come to meditation practice with the expectation that it will calm them and relieve their stress. Certainly meditation can do this to some extent; even the most superficial meditation practices can induce feelings of calmness. However, when we're knee-deep in emotional distress, we're fortunate if we can remember to practice at all. More »
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    Between Two Mountains Paid Member

    For all the horror and trauma that terrorism creates, its lasting power resides in the largely irrational fear we create and then magnify with our minds. Today, statistics show that airplanes are twenty-two times safer than automobiles, yet many people have stopped flying because of the fear that the September 11 attacks engendered. The anthrax scare has caused a widespread reluctance to handle mail, yet only five deaths have resulted from anthrax letters among 30 billion pieces delivered nationwide. We are afraid of death by biological attacks, yet in America some 20,000 people die of the flu each year, and only half of those most at risk get vaccinated. Clearly, the fear of terrorism will not be appeased by providing information, rationalizations, or statistics. It resides in a deep aspect of our consciousness. In order to work with it, we need to understand how it develops. More »