Pessimism can be so deadly. The habit of worrying about problems or seeing only the negative aspect of a situation hardly leaves any room for healing. When the mind becomes encrusted and rigid with this attitude, then everything that happens appears tainted by pain and negativity. - Tulku Thondop
I vow to refrain from intoxication that clouds the mind. - Fifth Buddhist Precept
Those who seriously follow and commit themselves to the Buddhist path agree to five "vows": The vow to abstain from killing, from stealing, from sexual misconduct, from false speech and from intoxicants. Of the five precepts, the one least adhered to among Western Buddhist practitioners is the last one: to abstain from consuming alcohol and using drugs.
Simply sipping a glass of wine is so ingrained in Western culture that many who say they are Buddhist are not aware of the prohibition against consuming alcoholic drinks of any kind. Buddhist teaching states clearly that alcohol is a danger. Ledi Sayadaw (1846–1923), a prominent Pali scholar and Burmese Meditation teacher, is the author of A Talk On Intoxicants. There he outlines these as some pitfalls of drinking alcohol:
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Flies go after open wound, bees after flowers, good people after good qualities, mean people after vices. - Canakya
July 6th (or 7th) is the Dalai Lama's birthday. Responding to "happy birthday" wishes, the Dalai Lama told well wishers the way he would most appreciate his birthday being celebrated:
“If you truly love me, then keep in your minds my three commitments, and whatever you do, wherever you live, try to create a compassionate environment, compassionate society, then religious harmony. Then tell more people that Tibetan knowledge, which comes from the Nalanda tradition is quite useful. So whether believer or non-believer, it is worthwhile that this Tibetan knowledge is kept as a part of academic subject. So if you practice, if you pay more attention, that’s the best gift for my birthday.”
Judgmental criticism is one thing; judicious criticism is actually a gift. That’s why the Buddha never formulated a precept against talking about other people’s faults or errors, because there are times when you have to speak up against harmful behavior. Otherwise it goes uncorrected, people take it as a model, and the civilization slips one notch further away. - Thanissaro Bhikkhu
John Porcellino is an artist for comic books. During a recent interview he related a time when a major illness came into his life. " I was in terrible pain, and very frightened. It’s hard to keep your wits about you in such instances," he recalled. His way of managing that time of illness, pain and fear is both instructive and inspiring:
"When I got very ill, the first thing I thought, naturally, was 'Why me?' But just as naturally, the next thought was, 'Why not me?' Terrible things happen to people every day. Why should I be exempt?"
That shift in thinking enabled Porcellino to see his difficulty differently. He says it became "an opportunity to explore selflessness, patience, courage and fearlessness."
Apply his approach to your difficulty. While it is natural - even inevitable - to wonder 'why me' try viewing it from the larger perspective that grief comes to everyone. There are no exemptions. Then begin to identify and explore the 'opportunities' which present themselves in your grief. Here are a few words of wisdom to guide you . . .
“Heartache purged layers of baggage I didn’t know I carried. Gifts hide under the layers of grief.” - Shauna L Hoey
"You know, life fractures all of us into little pieces. It harms us, but it’s how we glue those fractures back together that makes us stronger." - Carrie Jones
“Adversity is neither friend nor foe. It is a common acquaintance that is desired less and rewarded most when embraced.”
- Carolyn Wells
Loving kindness and compassion are a prerequisite for truly being human. - Hsing Yun
At his lowest point, Bryan Fant was addicted to vicodin, benzodiazepine, prozac, Xanax and various other powerful medications. All had been prescribed by the Veterans Administration to treat his debilitating pain, anxiety, depression and insomnia. Multiple deployments to Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait had ravaged him physically. War had ravaged him emotionally.
Fant lived with chronic pain. He underwent no less than seven surgeries to the neck, back and shoulders. He had spent thousands of hours in military helicopters wearing heavy gear. The jarring and jumping had taken a toll on his spine. His daily existence consisted of waking up in the morning, dragging himself to the mailbox to collect the new shipment of medications sent by the VA and then crawling to the couch in a drug-induced stupor. "I was miserable," Fant said. "I wasn't a functioning human being. I wasn't contributing to society in any way. Straight up not fit to be around. I was like a wounded animal that was in a corner so everyone that approached me in that corner, I wanted to strike out at them, which made me feel worse."
One day he woke up on the bedroom floor with paramedics standing over him. Fant had had a seizure. He was rushed to the hospital where doctors determined that he was over-medicated, chronically stressed, fatigued and malnourished. The VA's answer: change the medicine. That was the moment Fant began to change his life for the better. He walked out of the outpatient clinic and never went back. "I had made up my mind that the meds were not the answer," Fant said. "I knew there had to be something different." He turned to yoga and meditation, immersing himself in a journey of self-exploration through breath work and the physical and spiritual practice of yoga.
"I just remember the first class being very nervous and not knowing what to expect but the contrast from the beginning to when I left was so great," Fant said. "There was something there that I needed more of." He had only a vague understanding of the ancient practice. Fant began to educate himself about yoga, absorbing as much information from books, DVDs and teachers.
His journey to health and reclaiming his life was not easy. In the beginning, he had a hard time sitting still for meditation; he was in so much pain. But in time, Fant discovered the proper balance between strength and flexibility. He began to move with more ease. He kept up with classes and was usually the only man in class. Yoga began to alleviate the physical symptoms. He found a new sense of equanimity and contentment.
Five years later Fant is a serious yogi. His physical transformation is startling. His weight dropped from nearly 250 pounds into a lean 170 pound physique. The weight loss has happened organically; he has done no fad diets, but has become a more sensible eater. He avoids processed foods and shuns alcohol. He has no trouble sleeping. The emotional issues that once crippled him no longer torment him.
Additionally, Fant discovered the empowerment that comes with yoga inversions and arm balances, such as handstands. "Yoga is about so much more than handstands but to me the handstand is a turbo-charged meditation," said Fant, who has progressed to one-arm handstands. "However many seconds, nothing else can be going on in your life in that time period. If you don't have 100 percent focus, anything else comes into your mind in that time period, you are going to lose it."
To his continuing credit, Fant's days begin and end with Yoga.
According to astological readings the planet has entered the age of Aquarius in which feminine energies will rise greatly. One sign of that comes from Tibetan Buddhism.
For the first time, two Tibetan Buddhist nuns with geshema degrees, the equivalent of a PhD in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, have been hired to teach at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute in Dharamsala, India. In the past, these topics were taught exclusively by monks.
In a message to supporters, Elizabeth Napper, the board chair and US founder of the nonprofit Tibetan Nuns Project, announced that Delek Wangmo and Tenzin Kunsel are the first nuns to teach other nuns Buddhist philosophy. Training for Tibetan Buddhism’s highest degree, which has historically been limited to monks as the geshe degree, only became available to female monastics in recent decades. At least 37 women in the exile community have earned the title of geshema, after completing a course that involves at least 17 years of intensive study.
The only real failure in life is to quit trying. So, remind yourself that giving up is not an option. - Victor M. Parachin
Victor M. Parachin ...is a
Vedic educator, yoga instructor, meditation teacher and author of a dozen books. Buy his books at amazon or your local bookstore.