Thursday, June 10, 2010

On Becoming a Buddha, Part 2

In yesterday's blog, I illustrated how we all have the capacity to awaken, or become a "buddha," at any time that we become present. This can be as simple as returning to the feeling of the breath whenever the mind wanders in our formal practice, or by returning to a present-moment sensory reality in our day-to-day life. In today's blog, I will continue this exploration by suggesting what to do after you return to the present moment in your daily life.

If you are going to become a buddha, you should utilize the teachings of the Buddha when you return to the present moment. For example, if you are caught up in a state of anger, this is a moment of suffering. When you become aware of that experience, it is like waking up to the wandering mind in meditation. "Wow! I'm really angry at this person!" might be what you say to yourself. 

Now that you've awakened, you can move into how anger feels inside your body. Where is it located? What is its shape? Its temperature? Investigating the qualities of anger as a physical sensation gets you out of the story of the anger, and transforms it into simply another present moment experience that has arisen.

The antidote to anger is loving kindness. You can repeat phrases from the loving kindness meditation, such as "May I be peaceful." Or perhaps, "May I be free from anger and filled with feelings of loving kindness." These phrases may sound silly to us now, and may sound ridiculous in the heat of the moment, however they can be powerful allies in reducing the sense of constriction that anger often brings with it, and changing the feeling to one of spaciousness and calm. Now we can make other choices. Rather than continue with the course of anger and hatred, we can perhaps move into a space of compassion for the other person, and for ourselves.

Loving kindness means that we have to open our tight, grasping fist, because loving kindness cannot exist in an atmosphere of clinging and aversion. Indeed, if you think you love someone, but then you become angry with them for not satisfying your needs in some way, this is not loving kindness, but its "near enemy," attached affection. I will explain more about the near enemies in a later blog, but suffice it to say that whenever you open the fist, you relieve your suffering and the suffering of those around you.

I suppose the big message here is that, if you are going to engage in Dharma practice, you need to become familiar with the Dharma. Listening to recordings of Dharma talks is a great way to learn. I would highly recommend downloading Dharma talks from Dharma Seed, a wonderful organization that has made instructive talks on the teachings of the Buddha available to download for a donation. Their web address is




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