Archive for the ‘Engaged Buddhism’ Category

This week I was faced with a question/dilemma/problem, it was all born out of a harmless comment in someone’s eyes I am sure, but these words maybe me look within and turn to the dharma for guidance. The dharma has never steered me wrong, it has always cleared everything up for me, but this case was not immediately cleared and I am asking all of you. What is right speech? And what does it mean to practice right speech? Let me put everyone to speed, I find that most will see how it is not as easy as one might think.

I was at work, a good day, I was wearing a new Fred Perry polo (I must admit that I am a total fan of this clothing line, bordering on obsession!) and one of my bosses was also wearing a new Fred Perry sweater. I always feel a certain feeling of joy when I wear a new item by this designer and I can see that I am not the only one that feels that way when we find that awesome shirt and get to share it with those around us. My boss was wearing a colour that some might say was more “effeminate” than the green that I was wearing. A colleague of mine asked me if I had seen his new sweater and I said yes in a tone that clearly stated my approval of his new digs, he then proceeded to say “I asked him if he switched teams and this is his way of telling us”, and this is where my debate and reflection starts. Is it right speech for me to call him on his homophobic statement and get to question why he thinks that first of all being gay is derogatory, that the colour that we were explains our sexual orientation, and lastly, seeing as how he is newly a father, what kind of role model is he being for his son and how he will view the world in the future.

Right speech is usually understood as one of the ethical conducts in the eightfold path as:

Right speech is the first principle of ethical conduct in the eightfold path. Ethical conduct is viewed as a guideline to moral discipline, which supports the other principles of the path. This aspect is not self-sufficient, however, essential, because mental purification can only be achieved through the cultivation of ethical conduct. The importance of speech in the context of Buddhist ethics is obvious: words can break or save lives, make enemies or friends, start war or create peace. Buddha explained right speech as follows: 1. to abstain from false speech, especially not to tell deliberate lies and not to speak deceitfully, 2. to abstain from slanderous speech and not to use words maliciously against others, 3. to abstain from harsh words that offend or hurt others, and 4. to abstain from idle chatter that lacks purpose or depth. Positively phrased, this means to tell the truth, to speak friendly, warm, and gently and to talk only when necessary.

As one quickly understands, this is aimed at the individual and the actions that the individual does in the world. I am really questioning, if we are to practice engaged buddhism, if this act of calling people out on their racist or homophobic comments not a part of right speech. It is slanderous speech, the words that are used are malicious and create a world where it is Ok to use homophobia as an insult towards someone. I have always had a hard time when people use terms like faggot to joke around when someone is not being manly enough or good at a certain task, to the point that I am seen as a hyper sensitive person that has no sense of humour because I object to the fact that this term is being used. I should know that it is not what they mean and should not take it so seriously, I find the phenomenon of the normalisation of hate to be a plague in our society and assures that prejudice will continue for many generations to come.

What I wish I said to my co-worker, instead of simply ignoring the homophobic statement and saying that I was glad that at least one person had taste in clothing in the office, I wish I would have asked him first of all why he finds homosexuality to be derogatory, that he should take some time to reflect on what kind of role model is he being for his newborn son, and how would he react if one day he learns that his son was gay (would his vocabulary change)? I find that it is important to study the normalization of hate in our society, language is an extremely subtle tool for hate, the more we hear something the easier it is for us to use it in the same context. I am trying to be as mindful and aware with my dharma practice, so why would I not stand up to hate and respond with love, teaching others how they can be less hateful on a daily basis? I find that it is my duty to stand up and call people out on their ignorant comments, that is what right speech is, speaking out to help others suffer less. I owe it to my colleague to let him know what happened to me when he uttered what he believed to be “harmless” words, I owe it to him, and I especially owe it to his son!


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Another year is done; 2011 taught me a lot of things and I look forward to the lessons 2012 will hold, the new year is always a time of reflection for most people. It is a time for people to look back on the last year, to see what were the highlights and what could have been different. This is where I should be sharing with you my “resolution” for the upcoming year to help better myself, this is usually characterised with a statement based on eating better or exercising more, instead of having a specific action planned at “fixing” something that I don’t like about myself I have decided to be kinder in all aspects of my life. I have decided to go against our divided society where the body is relegated to the gym, work to the office, healing to the hospital, leisure being related to two weeks of vacation, and the sacred being linked to weekly visits to church or temple. I will follow Jack Kornfield and the message of his new book, the wholeness of awakening.

All aspects of my life will be the field of my practice, the place to find freedom and compassion, every part of my life is sacred. It is this life, my work, my family, my community which are the only place for awakening. In Zen it is called “no part left out”. All parts of our human experience must be included in an awakened life. The Buddha explained that awakening and freedom are found:

When sitting, standing, walking, and lying down;

through right speech, right action, right livelihood;

inwardly and outwardly,

with the whole body, feelings, mind, and relationships;

in solitude and community;

in prison, hut, farm, or palace;

in times of war or peace;

in sickness and in health.

Our lives provide the perfect conditions for awakening freedom and compassion. Enlightenment will not be found in some meditation hall hidden in the mountains, it is only found where you are. There is thus a way of moving wisely and graciously through the world, bestowing blessings and happiness to yourself and others, in hard times as well as good times. This freedom can be found once we learn to quiet the mind and open the heart. This is the purpose of meditation. Mindfulness does not reject experience, it lets it be the teacher. Mindfulness allows one enter the difficulties in their own lives, and find the healing and freedom that one is searching.

This year I will be doing Metta practice (for those of you unaware of this practice I will be presenting it in my next post) everyday for a complete year, I look forward to sharing with you the ride that will be this intense loving-kindness practice. I look forward to my experiences uncovering new truths about myself, I bow to my teacher that is life and look forward to interacting with it! Stay tuned and try to be kind to everyone that you encounter along your personal path, even if it may seem impossible at times…

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Bodhi Day is a Buddhist holiday commemorating the day that the Buddha achieved enlightenment, which is translated as Bodhi in Sanskrit or Pali.  Bodhi Day is always celebrated on the 8th day of the 12th lunar month, this is what is believed was the day that Siddhartha Gautama while sitting under the Bodhi tree became the Buddha. Sid, who was born in a very noble and privileged Hindu family, left his material comforts in the search for answers to the problem of suffering, specifically old age, sickness and death. He thus sought bodhi through meditation, self-mortification, and practicing other austerities.

After several years of intense practice, he realized that bodhi was to be found through meditation, but through a Middle Way, away from the extremes of self-mortification and self-indulgence. The story goes that he meditated in Bodh Gaya (I am sure that you have all heard of the famous Bodhi Tree that is supposed to have been grown from an original branch of the tree that rested atop of the Buddha, it is one of the main pilgrimage sites for Buddhists from all over the world) under a peepal tree (a species of Banyan fig), now famously known as the Bodhi tree, and resolved to continue meditating until he achieved bodhi (enlightenment). It is believed that after 49 days of continuous meditation, Gautama achieved bodhi (enlightenment) at the age of 35. Since then he was known as the Buddha (‘enlightened one’). In other words, he kicked Mara’s ass and was freed from the shackles of suffering.

In Buddhism, Māra is the demon that tempted Siddhartha Gautama by trying to seduce him with the vision of beautiful women who, in various legends, are often said to be Mara’s daughters. In Buddhist cosmology, Mara personifies unwholesome impulses, unskilfulness, the “death” of the spiritual life. He is a tempter, distracting humans from practicing the spiritual life by making the mundane alluring or the negative seem positive. We have all wrestled with Mara at one point in our lives, I know that I do it on a daily basis, I just keep working on not giving Mara too much power in my life and how I act within the world. I am sure that everyone that has attempted to sit and meditate has tasted the allure of what Mara has thrown at them, the important part and what I try to do every time is simply to say “I see you Mara” and keep on keeping on.

People usually celebrate and commemorate this day with meditation, studying the Dharma, chanting sutras (Buddhist texts) or by doing kind acts towards others. I find that all these activities are all great ways to commemorate this moment, I also find that it is a great time to reflect on what has brought us to this practice and what keeps us going on this path… So why not take some time today to sit and meditate on our practice and how we are progressing on the path. I know that I like to check in on my practice at least once a year and I can’t think of a better time than now. So take a moment to reflect and renew your effort towards your practice and the path that you have chosen, if you do not practice meditation or the dharma, there isn’t a better time than now to start!

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The Occupy Wall Street movement has been spreading like wildfire for a little over a month now, people are hearing about the 99% rising up and demanding that the widening gap that is growing between the haves and the have-nots becomes smaller. The Occupy movement describes itself as:

Occupy Wall Street is leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants.

This #ows movement empowers real people to create real change from the bottom up. We want to see a general assembly in every backyard, on every street corner because we don’t need Wall Street and we don’t need politicians to build a better society.

It has become the 1% and the 99%, these numbers have been burned into most news coverage of this new movement and rightfully so, but I have always believed that I was part of a different statistic. Noah Levine in his book The Heart of the Revolution describes a definition of another 1%, people who follow the teachings of the Buddha and the Dharma are ones that go against the stream and are a part of a very select group of people. I find it interesting that he used this kind of language and imagery before this movement arose, and in many ways I find it very fitting to be using it at this point in time in history. So my question is, what is a Buddhist to do with a movement like this one? I believe in this cause and find that it is really great to see its success since its inception in September, I am also happy that it has been mostly peaceful as movement, so what can a socially engaged Buddhist like myself bring to this movement? I actually found a great article at the Buddhist Peacemakers Institute website about occupying the present moment.

  1. Interconnection.  We are moved by the interconnectedness expressed in this movement.  Occupy Wall Street is not about one environmental situation or one war, but rather about all of the systems which create suffering for all beings, and which are all related to each other.  Our spiritual practice is not just for our individual enlightenment, but to end suffering for all beings, so we are moved to address this system.
  2. Ending suffering means changing the conditions of inequality. The influence of money, corporations, and banks in our U.S. political system blocks all of the human and environmental goals that BPF works towards.  Numerous Buddhist texts point out that if an individual lives in poverty it is not due to karma as a form of personal punishment, but rather that poverty exists within a web of collective causes and conditions. The Buddha also noted that the way to build a peaceful society is to ensure equitable distribution of resources.  Many U.S. Buddhists believe in the importance of cultivating a limitless heart that embraces the goal of a society in which everyone has their basic needs met, plus education, a living wage, and the opportunity to care for their families and to develop spiritually.
  3. The means are the ends.  We are moved by and in agreement with the nonviolent tactics of the movement.  We believe in the power of compassionate presence, of bearing witness, and of nonviolent strategies toward spiritual awakening and liberation. The people on the streets in New York, and around the country and world, are in the process of being the change they wish to see, to use Gandhi’s phrase.
  4. We participate in solidarity with the 100%—with all beings.  While we want to change the situation of disparity in world, we don’t want to exile the 1% from our hearts.  Furthermore, we are aware that lumping people together, whether into the 99% or the 100%, can invisibilize people’s experiences, especially those of people of color, and the many others who bear the heaviest burdens of inequality in the U.S. and in the world.  While we are all interconnected, we are not all the same.  With this recognition of diversity, we stand in solidarity with the 100%.

This is what I find sticks with me the most out of this statement, standing in solidarity with the 100% and not exiling anyone. I mean, in a way, this is why the 99% are so upset right now, they feel pushed aside and ignored, so it is not much better if we push the 1% to the side and ignore them. It is not the people who are the problem but the system that exists in the world, this is what we must change. We are all interconnected and we must work together (everyone) if we want to change things for the best. We want to end the suffering of every being, not just a select group. Let’s continue speaking out against injustice, but lets not forget to bring compassion and wisdom to the movement. Organise a meditation flashmob at one of the occupy protests in your town and show people that this revolution will remain peaceful and compassionate, let’s not forget that this revolution must also happen within us! Be the change that you want to see in the world!

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In 2008 Karen Armstrong won the 100 000$ TED prize and made a wish for help creating, launching and propagating a Charter for Compassion. After the Charter was unveiled to the world in November 2009, the Compassionate Action Network (“CAN”) launched an effort to create the first “Compassionate City” in Seattle. On April 24, 2010, the mayor and city council affirmed the Charter for Compassion and proclaimed the city’s support for a 10-year Compassionate City Campaign, making Seattle the first city in the world to become a Compassionate City.  Seattle was the first, but CAN (Compassionate Action Network) started the International Campaign for Compassionate Cities when an international wave of interest started for the creation of compassionate cities.

With the unveiling of the International Institute for Compassionate Cities in late 2010, CAN is developing an ability to enable rapid development of compassion-based programs within institutions and political entities (cities, nations, etc.) while supporting a growing culture of compassion that fosters positive, effective, and caring shifts in policy, practices, financing, education, employment, health, and community support. Hopefully you are reading this and seeing a need for such a campaign in your city, but it may seem a little big for a project and exactly what are we to do? It is simple:

Becoming a Compassionate City, Region, or Nation

The Charter for Compassion is a cornerstone of the International Campaign for Compassionate Cities. The Campaign is an initiative of the Compassionate Action Network (CAN) and supported by Institute, which is a part of CAN. The Campaign is an effort to bring a culture of compassion to cities, regions, and nations world-wide.

There are four types of campaigns for cities (as well as counties, states and provinces, regions, and nations):

  1. Candidates
  2. Affirming Cities
  3. Compassionate Cities
  4. Model Compassionate Cities

These are described in more detail, including requirements for each, on the Campaign page of the website.

Getting started?

Getting started is as easy as completing these five simple steps:

  1. Personally affirm the Charter for Compassion. Ask everyone you know to do the same.
  2. Join the Compassionate Action Network. It’s easy and its free.
  3. Start a group for your campaign. Just go to the Groups page and click on “+ Add” at the top right of the page.
  4. Join the International Institute for Compassionate Cities group on the network.
  5. For more information and support for your campaign, submit a Participation Inquiry using the convenient and easy to use electronic form on this website.
  6. Visit the Institute Resource Center. Download and read the Developing a Compassionate City Campaign (PDF, 190 kb).
  7. Contact us if you have questions, ideas, etc. We’re here to serve your campaign.

Already started?

If you’ve already started your campaign and would like to get support from the International Institute for Compassionate Cities, follow these five simple steps:

  1. Personally affirm the Charter for Compassion. Ask everyone you know to do the same.
  2. Join the Compassionate Action Network. It’s easy and its free.
  3. If you haven’t done so already, start a group for your campaign. Just go to the Groups page and click on “+ Add” at the top right of the page.
  4. Join the International Institute for Compassionate Cities group on the network.
  5. For more information and support for your campaign, submit a Participation Inquiry using the convenient and easy to use electronic form on this website.
  6. If you’re looking for ideas for your campaign, visit the Institute Resource Center. You can download and read the Developing a Compassionate City Campaign (PDF, 190 kb).
  7. Contact us if you have questions, ideas, etc. We’re here to serve your campaign.

What does it cost?

There are no fees, dues, or other charges for becoming part of the International Campaign for Compassionate Cities. The International Institute for Compassionate Cities exercises no control over your campaign; rather we serve solely as a resource to assist you in moving your campaign forward.

So if this sounds good to you, get up and get it going! I am planning on starting a reading group based on Karen Armstrong’s book, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life, and then take it to the streets! There are already many cities that have taken the pledge, so why wouldn’t your community also join this campaign. Here are some testimonies of the positive effects that are already being felt around the world:

In a court room near a confirmed Compassionate City, a particularly scathing clash between two attorneys escalated. The judge stopped the trial. She pointed out that there was a Compassionate City nearby and, since the people there were aspiring to compassion, so will those in her courtroom. The trial continued with respect, understanding, and — most of all — compassion. The juror reporting this was astounded.

In August, I spoke with a school principal of an alternative high school in Colorado. She told me her students had asked that the school constitution be replaced with the Charter for Compassion. They decided that they should make compassion a central focus of their lives. It was obvious that she was deeply touched and proud of these young people.

People have also made personal pledges to bring to their everyday lives. Here are just a few examples of the different commitments that people are undertaking:

– I will commit to one compassionate action every day.

– I will commit to using compassionate language.

– I will commit to teach my children how to love, care for, understand, and provide compassion for others.

– I will have more compassion for myself.

– I will commit to seeing myself in my enemy.

– I will learn how compassion is applied in my faith, moral, and spiritual tradition.

– I will commit to learning more about my world.

Hunger for compassion and compassionate action can not be denied, the Institute has never recruited a city, county, country, school, business, or other group. They search for and find them. Let’s start making a better world today! I know that this is something that I will be doing!

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I started watching the MTV reality show called, If you really knew me…, about Challenge Day and the impact that they have in schools all around the US. If you are not familiar with the work that is done you should really take some time to check out Challenge Day, it is a great answer to helping solve what is happening in schools all over with bullying, racism, etc. During the day, students are put into small groups and they each take turns letting people know the real them, we hide so much of ourselves to others which in turns creates real separation between people. They say that we are like icebergs, we only show 10% of ourselves to the world, so the exercise is to drop the waterline (get out of that comfort zone) and expose 100% of ourselves and be “real”.  What happens is that once everyone has started sharing how they really feel and what they are going through, we realize that we all have our struggles and insecurities, and that all we want is to be accepted for who we are and free to show ourselves and not hide behind masks.

Buddhism does also talk about the other and how we relate to them, especially when discussing the Bodhisattva vow and its mission of releasing all beings of suffering before leaving this earth. Awakening compassion is something that I have struggles with, especially towards myself. I am sure that we all have struggled with the inner critic inside of us, distancing myself from emotional pain – my vulnerability, anger, jealousy, fear – by letting it be covered over with self-judgment. So by pushing away parts of myself, I was digging myself deeper into the trance of unworthiness. I was not able to accept my experience because my heart was hardened by fear and blame. As long as I can remember I have been relentlessly badgering myself, ignoring the hurt in my heart. I think that it had all started with my relationship with my parents that were always quick to judge and criticize me when I was dropping my waterline, I thus developed an incapacity to acknowledge the real suffering that I was living with these harsh words and instead judging myself for being so stupid to show my real self to the world. I would never be accepted and loved if I didn’t create an image of myself that had his shit together all the time, and maintained an image that was respectable with the others around me.

This all came back up when I was watching these kids pour their hearts out, I saw myself and I remembered how hard it was to hold myself with compassion the first time that this surfaced in my meditation practice. I remember doing the body scan to see where in my body I could feel these feelings of unworthiness and judgment, feeling in my chest like my heart was bound with tight chords, realizing how painful this pain really was even though I had become used to feeling it all the time. Realizing how sad I felt to have always been carrying this pain with me, and for so long, ever since I could remember in my childhood. I had read that I should put my hand on my heart, the area where I felt the pain, and to say to myself  “I care about this suffering”. For the first time I could remember I was acknowledging the pain that I felt and realizing that it was Ok for me to care and tend to it. With time and practice, I must admit that the pain slowly softened, it never went away, but I must admit that I have a much more compassionate response to it. This care that I had always offered to others was for the first time in my life being directed towards myself, I could comfort myself with words of kindness and understanding. So now when I start feeling judgments about myself and the physical pain that comes with it, I am able to put my hand on my chest and offer words of kindness by saying that I care about my suffering and the pain and anger subsides and it is replaced by a warm feeling spreading throughout my whole body. My edge has softened with time and I am much less angry than I was.

May this suffering awaken compassion, these are the words of the Bodhisattva, a beautiful promise that is given by people who will dedicate their lives to awaken the compassion of all beings so they may be free of suffering. Challenge Day and its amazing staff are doing the work of the Bodhisattvas, they are showing that we are all suffering and we all want to be heard, loved, and accepted. We all live the same fears, insecurities, and we all have the same desires of being free from suffering. I find that they are showing that we are all in this together, so why do we judge and bring more suffering to people? We should be accepting and loving towards all people, no matter if they are different, because in the end we are all the same. I find that we get so caught up in our own stories sometimes that we forget and make the other to simply be an enemy or an object and forget the humanity that lives inside them. All beings experience love, fear, suffering and we should welcome them with love and openess in our lives. I find that the other is an illusion that we create to help justify our selfishness and to validate our suffering, that it is something that is out of our control. But if we take the time to open to our experiences and meeting them with kindness we can see ourselves in all beings. It reminds me of a story that I read once:

An aged spiritual master calls his two most devoted disciples to the garden in front of his hut. Gravely, he gives each one a chicken and instructs them, “Go to where no one can see, and kill the chicken.” One of the men immediately goes behind his shed, picks up an ax and chops off his chicken’s head. The other wanders around for hours, and finally returns to his master, the chicken still alive and in hand. “Well, what happened?” the teacher asks. The disciple responds, “I can’t find a place to kill the chicken where no one can see me. Everywhere I go, the chicken sees.”

Bring this wisdom into your life and I can assure that you will live a much kinder and compassionate life. I try to bring this attention and compassion to everything that I do, and I find that a Challenge day also lets a school see that we are not alone in our suffering and we should be helping each other out instead of creating boundaries and fear. So tomorrow when you are at school or work, say hello to someone that you normally would not talk to and let them know that you are there and you are listening!


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Hello everyone, it has been a while since I have written, I must say that I have not been going super well. As always, I have also stopped having a dedicated daily practice and now feel that I have dove deeply into suffering on a daily basis. The five hindrances have taken over and now I feel like it is hard to escape them! This feeling of sinking is something that I know all too well these days, and then comes my old friend doubt which makes me question everything. I was driving home this week from a Chuck Ragan show in Ottawa back to Montreal and had a close call with a moose on the highway, it is moments like this that sometimes wake you up! This moment, which lasted just a few seconds, made me realize that it is time for me to take back my practice and my life in many ways. I realized that this practice is most important when things aren’t going well, no matter how hard or unpleasant it may be. It is when the work pays off and we are able to truly see the benefits of meditation practice. I mean, my life is not that bad; I have a job surrounded by good people, I am in a healthy relationship, I have a roof over my head with a fridge full of food, so why am I suffering so much? I know that it comes down to my usual issues: I have a hard time seeing the goodness inside of me, accepting that my projects may seem like they are so far away from being fulfilled, and that I must stay true to myself.

My practice suffered when things seemed to feel like they were all falling apart: I was no longer able to volunteer in the penitentiary that I was going to for the last three years (cut-backs, etc.), I was not able to participate in further training with my teacher due to financial obligations, my meditation group going on hiatus due to lack of participation, and the list goes on. This filled me with feelings of hopelessness and despair. All that I seemed to have been working towards all see to fall apart in about the same timeline, which made me seriously question my role in the dharma and if this was actually the path for me. Of course, this made it that I stopped practicing on a daily basis and I started indulging in less healthy habits on the side. Seeing as things weren’t going well inside I tried to change things around me to try to give myself pleasure from external sources. Of course, this never helps and I know this to be true, but it is such an easy thing to indulge in our cravings and try to numb our pain. I am also an expert at that! It is so much easier to tell ourselves that we will be happy if we get the new record by such and such an artist, that going out drinking with help numb the pain that we feel inside (except that we wake up with even more suffering).  I realized after the moose that my life had been completely taken over by the five hindrances and it is time for me to shape up and face my demons, no matter how ugly they may be!

The five hindrances are important in meditation practice, and discovering their antidotes even more:

1- Lust: Sense desire is a great distraction from serenity and mindfulness, craving is such an ingrained habit in all of us and we live in a society that feeds off it! This hindrance is not only in the sexual way, even though a lot of people do suffer with pornography instead of intimate relationships, but it can also be something as simple as consuming a lot of different albums or books like me. Concentration is the anitdote for this hindrance. When the mind is strong enough to (seemingly) effortlessly stay on a single object, there is no danger of falling into the trap of discomfiting lust, greed, and yearning. By practicing mindfulness we are able to avoid the trapping of consumption or craving, it helps us to realize that we will not be happy if we get that new gadget etc.

2- Anger: This is an emotion that I know all too well, ill-will is a miserable tendency that destroys calm, cool, collected states of mind in a blinding instant — like an explosive hot flash reducing everything to cinders. Most people would agree that anger is not a pleasant experience, I am sure that if we take a second to think about it, the physical experience of anger usually comes as a tightening of the chest or something similar. Most people do not realize how much annoyance, irritation, and ill directed resentment they’re carrying around — that is, until they try to sit peacefully and silently for a few minutes. The antidote is cultivating kindness (also known as Metta), compassionate recognition (karuna), and joy-in-others-happiness (mudita). These give rise to a sublime state of looking on (upekkha) with acceptance and understanding. One becomes unflappable but perfectly able to respond. “Warm detachment” — not to be confused with cold indifference.

3- Restlessness: Worry, or being scattered, results from inattention to the object and too much effort. More effort makes one more awkward, inartful, and inarticulate. The more one wants something, the LESS one is able to get it. When we are less concerned with the outcome, the more confident we will be, and paradoxically, the MORE success we will have. And with more success, more confidence. We have to couple the concentrated mind with a pacified heart, we must learn to balance both, because too much thinking will be a hindrance to our practice. Too much effort quickly leads to dissatisfaction and prematurely giving up.

4- Drowsiness: Also, known as sloth or torpor, is one I am sure that we have all experienced on the cushion. It has happened more than once that we will doze off during our sits, this can be caused by legitimate tiredness, but the other is a habit of delusion (moha) or foolishness (bala): If in the past (as now) one was not keen to hear the Truth, not interested in things as they are, but negligent, heedless, inattentive, then mindfulness, diligence, and one-pointedness leading to insight will take more time. Rest well before sitting, and persevere. Persistence and regularity are antidotes to pernicious drowsiness.

5- Doubt: This has definitely been my biggest struggle on the cushion, in my life even, and is one that I know I will always have to wrestle. I find that this hinderance can sometimes be overwhelming, it makes one completely question everything. How can we avoid being totally over taken by doubt? There are a couple of ways, one is to simply put it aside for later, or get up and work at getting your question answered (there are always teachers or at least books lying around that can help you). If we get lost in a different views when we are trying to figure stuff out, we can very easily just get confused and sink even more, it can become a crutch. Suspend disbelief, lay down the doubting mind, abandon reasoning from a position of faulty assumptions. The Truth is true; your thinking won’t make it otherwise. The Truth is here to see and inviting. There’s a time to argue, a time to study, a time to investigate and question. That time is certainly not when you sit on a mat and cushion.

So that is exactly what I am going to do, I am going to allow a time and a place for all things in my life. I have to be kind towards myself and develop a strong practice again if I want to free myself from the suffering that I am experiencing these days… These are the times when meditating is the hardest, but also the most important! I hope that this will help me dive back into the dharma and assure that I do not stray too much from this path again… I also have to remind myself to not be too hard on myself and think of this as one of many bumps in the road ahead! I know that a dedicated meditation practice may not eliminate my demons completely, but it will help me live with them. It is what it is folks!

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