Thursday, February 26, 2009


Mindfulness has, if we may personify it, a rather unassuming character. Compared with it, mental factors such as devotion, energy, imagination and intelligence are certainly more colourful personalities, making an immediate and strong impacct on people and situations. Their conquests are sometimes rapid and vast, though often insecure.

Mindfulness, on the other hand, is of an unobtrusive nature. Its virtues shine inwardly, and in ordinary life most of its merits are passed on to other mental faculties which generally receive all the credit. One must know mindfulness well and cultivate its acquaintance before one can appreciate its value and its silent penetrative influence. Mindfulness walks slowly and deliberately, and its daily task is of a rather humdrum nature. Yet where it places its feet it cannot easily be dislodged, and it acquires and bestows true mastery of the ground it covers.

Nyanaponika Thera, The Power of Mindfulness

See also: The Vision of Dhamma - Buddhist Writings of Nyanaponika Thera

Picture: All Rights Reserved aml.2009

Friday, February 20, 2009

true freedom

The Sutta Nipata, in its oldest and most characteristic parts, is a deeply stirring Song of Freedom. The verses of this ancient book are a challenging call to us to leave behind the narrow confines of our imprisoned existence with its ever-growing walls of accumulated habits of life and thought. They beckon us to free ourselves from the enslavement to our passions and to our thousand little whims and wishes. A call to freedom is always timely because in our lives we constantly bind ourselves to this and that, or let ourselves be bound in various ways by others and by circumstances. To some extent, normal life cannot entirely escape from such a situation. In fact, "binding" oneself to a worthy task and duty or to an ennobling human relationship is an indispensable antidote to the opposite tendency: the dissipation of our energies.

But, having the comfort of a "secure footing" in life, we too easily forget to walk on. Instead, we prefer to "strengthen our position," to improve and embellish the little cage we build for ourselves out of habits, ideas and beliefs. Once we have settled down in our habitual ways of living and thinking, we feel less and less inclined to give them up for the sake of risky ventures into a freedom of life and thought full of dangers and uncertainties. True freedom places on us the uncomfortable burden of ever-fresh responsible decisions, which have to be guided by mindfulness, wisdom and human sympathy. Few are willing to accept the full weight of such a burden. Instead, they prefer to be led and bound by the rules given by others, and by habits mainly dominated by self-interest and social conventions.

Nyanaponika Thera

Taken from "The Worn Out Skin". Read full article at Access to Insight

For a list of Nyanaponika Thera's writings, goto: Nyanaponika Thera at Access to Insight

words are windows (or they are walls)

I feel so sentenced by your words,
I feel so judged and sent away,
Before I go I've got to know
Is that what you mean to say?
Before I rise to my defence,
Before I speak in hurt or fear,
Before I build that wall of words,
Tell me, did I really hear?

Words are windows, or they're walls,
They sentence us, or set us free.
When I speak and when I hear,
Let the love light shine through me.
There are things I need to say,
Things that mean so much to me,
If my words don't make me clear,
Will you help me to be free?
If I seemed to put you down,
If you felt I didn't care,
Try to listen through my words
To the feelings that we share.

Ruth Bebermeyer

From Nonviolent Communication: a Language of Life
By Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D.
Encinitas, CA: Puddle Dancer Press, 2003

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Buddhism of Benjamin Button

Daisy, Ben's love interest remarks when they are both in their prime that they are finally 'meeting in the middle'. The truth is, we are always 'meeting in the middle', in the flowing river of time. Buddhism sees the present moment as the centre of time's passage, which is but a measurement of change. We are always smack in the centre, between the past and the future. In fact, now is the only moment we have. There is no need to pine for the transpired past or for the unshaped future, while every moment taken care of now creates happy memories and a better future.

Death Doing Apart

One of Ben's main sources of suffering was to see loved ones already conventionally older than him pass away before him. Then again, in real life, the young often witness the passing of elders too, just as elders sometimes witness the passing of the young. However, as Stonepeace put it, 'Though you might lose your lover (to departure or death), you need not lose your love.' Do we only learn to treasure the beloved when we know they will come to pass? Or rather, we should treasure the beloved now because they are already passing by, changing from moment to moment, even if subtly.

Unconditional love

Daisy wondered if Ben would still love her when she becomes old and saggy, while Ben asks if she will still love him when he has acne as a teenager. How conditional or unconditional is our love? There is really no way to be sure until the ravages of time transform the beloved to test our love. Paradoxically, love is to accept the beloved as they are, while also accepting that they will change in time to be who they are not now. An attribute of true love is that it must make peace with change, yet be unchanging in its devotion to be continually caring despite these changes.

Renunciation for Love

Ben leaves Daisy and their daughter before she becomes old enough to know him, to form attachment to him. It was also a bid to avoid giving Daisy suffering when she eventually has to take care of him when he becomes a young child. It was renunciation of family not due to lack of love, but out of love. However, as he was still attached, he returns abruptly for a visit, thereby disrupting Daisy's new family (with a new husband) a little, stirring up mixed emotions. True Love lets go in good time. Perhaps he shouldn't have returned - if Daisy was already happy with their past times together? Love can still be love at a distance.

To read full article:
by Shen Shi'an, The Buddhist Channel, Feb 6, 2009

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

meditation and pain

I was in the hospital recently for my sudden and unremitting headache. Remembering what I learnt, I practised a simple mindfulness of breathing which helped me to cope better with the pain as well as the various medical procedures i had to undergo at the hospital. My other take-away from the experience: Even though there is physical pain, there is no need to suffer mentally as well.

Here is a timely report that I found:

Zen Meditation Alleviates Pain, Study Finds

ScienceDaily (Feb. 3, 2009) — Zen meditation – a centuries-old practice that can provide mental, physical and emotional balance – may reduce pain according to Université de Montréal researchers. A new study in the January edition of Psychosomatic Medicine reports that Zen meditators have lower pain sensitivity both in and out of a meditative state compared to non-meditators.

While previous studies have shown that teaching chronic pain patients to meditate is beneficial, very few studies have looked at pain processing in healthy, highly trained meditators. This study was a first step in determining how or why meditation might influence pain perception." says Grant.

For full article, click here: Science Daily

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

money can't buy true happiness

Money can't buy happiness
By SRIWIPA SIRIPUNYAWIT, The Bangkok Post, Feb 1, 2009

This is what Danai Chanchaochai believes and has changed his life to make happiness his number one goal

Bangkok, Thailand -- In the hall there is pin-drop silence. This scenario is almost impossible to find in the heart of Bangkok, at 5:30pm on a weekday. But, people still dressed in office attire, start to gather here to listen to the words of Phra Acharn Mitsuo Gavesako echoing from a stereo.

There is a strange calm and peace that fills Bodhgaya Hall, which welcomes people from all walks of life Tuesday and Wednesday. It usually provides 170 seats for anyone wishing to take "off" after work to seek peace in their hearts through meditation and Buddhist teachings.

"However, there was time when as many 800 people joined the session and our neighbouring office had to keep their door open so the people got more space to sit and meditate," says Danai Chanchaochai, 42, chief executive officer of DC Consultants, a strict follower of Buddhist teachings.

This space on the 22nd floor of Amarin Tower, Chidlom, must be complete misuse of "office space", as there are no monetary gain from it.

Danai thinks otherwise. Besides the spacious meditation hall, his office space is shared by a cosy bookshop that houses mostly books from his publishing house, DMG Books.

While half of all the published books are for sale, the other half are for free distribution. And the income from selling books will also be donated.

To continue reading,
Buddhist Channel