Articles, Book Reviews, Poetry and Art
- Transmitting the Dhamma in Word and in Deed: An Interview with Bhikkhu Bodhi
- Four Noble Truths
- The Non-Linearity of Life
- A Stupa Over India: The Renaissance of the Dhamma
- Spoiler Alert: Serving a Vipassana Course Can Be Fun
- Discovering Dhamma: Helping My Son take Small Steps on His Own Path
- Transmission of Gratitude
- True Heritage
- The Importance of Friendship, Harmony, and Right Speech, Part 2 of 2
- Dhamma Willing
- September 2023
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Fig.1 Rashtrapati Bhavan
Some 900 years ago, the Dhamma, the teachings of the Buddha, faced a profound challenge after being uprooted from India. But history has a penchant for surprises, and so it was that the Dhamma would rise again in the land of its origin.
Introducing children to the teachings of the Buddha and the practice of meditation is a topic that has increasingly occupied my thoughts, particularly as I consider my eight-year-old son.Reflecting upon my own actions and their impact on him, I realize that being a positive role model is of utmost importance. Observing how he sees me as a person and perceives me during times of conflict, understanding the role that I play within our family, witnessing his reactions when I interact with strangers, discussing life's situations with him, all are crucial factors in shaping his understanding of the world.
Like an old friend,
a friend you may have forgotten momentarily,
but whom you remember with joy,
whom you greet with an expressive hug,
like this is one’s own purification
when a word of Dhamma is heard,
when a Blessed One’s image is seen.
Where the land is pure
And eagle soar,
Where the mountains surround you
And the silence astounds you,
Its like no place you’ve ever been before.
My garden in spring is a wonderful place to meditate
I trudge by beds of visiting dandelion, clover, and deer tracks.
Soaked by intermittent rain;
Preparing to interview Yuval Noah Harari is no small task. The historian-philosopher-meditator is the author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, which have been translated into more than 65 languages and have sold more than 35 million copies. Yuval earned a PhD in history from Oxford University and lectures at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, specializing in the history of human evolution, global political history, and artificial intelligence. He is one of the most influential public intellectuals in the world. His ability to weave together grand narratives that cover every facet of human life has been a major source of inspiration to me for the last five years, so having the opportunity to speak with this charismatic and compassionate person was a real honour.In this interview, I asked Yuval, over Zoom, about his spiritual journey and the role meditation played in his life as a public intellectual. We also discussed how meditation and self-reflection might help cut through the illusion of free will, better understand our personal biases, navigate through post-truth society, and shed light on our unwitting complicity in institutional oppression. Our conversation also explored the territories of artificial intelligence, big-data algorithms, and the function of storytelling, all from a contemplative perspective.
No more yearning equanimity
such as it is
sense, a reaction?
While it seems
like a journey
it seems like progress
it seems like
a developing self
“Those who maintain their practice for the first year maintain it easily for their whole lives.”
~ S.N. Goenka
But what's so hard about the first year? Why does it take a strong act of willpower (adhiṭṭhāna) to meditate for two hours a day for a year, after which it becomes easy? The majority of students leave their first ten-day course of Vipassana meditation as taught by S.N. Goenka (in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin) feeling somewhere along a spectrum between inspiration and transformation. These new “old students” feel energized by their ten-day glimpse into a changed way of being in the world. They often see the possibility of a happier life that is less reactive, and less at the mercy of the twists and tugs of their mind, of their "inner monologue." However, Goenkaji, as he was commonly known by his students, was explicit that the first course is merely an introduction. He spent ten days teaching you how to walk on this path, “but the actual benefit you get will be from daily sittings, morning and evening," after the course is over.
The most counter-intuitive and yet brilliantly simple gem emerged in the form of the realization that what’s inside my mind is what manifests in my life outside.
Thus, if my mind is filled with impurities, defilements, worries, anxieties, enmities, fears, superstitions, insecurities, foreboding, that is precisely how my external environment organizes itself and provide me validation for these mentations through my lived experiences. And on the contrary, if my mind is filled with peace, harmony, joy, friendly vibes, equanimity, compassion, empathy, I am gifted in turn with these conditions in the real world.
The heart is filled with joy and celebration, cradled in the tranquility of equanimity. Nothing is too intense, nor even too happy. The sweetness calms our hearts and lets respect, gratitude and beauty blossom, a beauty straight from the heart of the Dhamma.
Each gate, each building, each stone reminds us that Dhamma has prevailed here for many hundreds of years, and that hearts remember it.
This is the heart of Myanmar, the heart of Dhamma, the heart of the Buddha that beats in each of us.