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June's multi-colored eyes

June's multi-colored eyes (Photo credit: kakissel)

Okay, just a very quick post.

It looks like only two classes will be offered for now: Dharma Art, and Meditation 101. More info is located on the “classes” page.

If you were interested in “Intro to Buddhism,” please consider taking one of the other classes (or both!). I hope to teach another series of classes, in June. Maybe “Intro” will appear in June. We’ll see.

If you are interested, call or email. Two people signed up last night, and will probably confirm that I’m not great at giving driving directions via phone. I’ll try! There’s always mapquest, and then driving out and calling if you get lost! We’re basically on the corner of Boston road and Green street. That big barn you see on the corner, that’s us. Please park on the street/grass.

I talked to two store owners in Amesbury today about possible classes. So, welcome to the website!

If you want to show up on Sunday for meditation, too, let me know.

So that this post is not just practical announcements, I’ll share one thought that’s been bouncing around some in my mind.

I’ve written about the four thoughts that turn the mind before.

1. Precious human life    2. Change     3. Cause and effect   4. Suffering


As for that last one, here’s a fuller version of the contemplation.

“In the three lower realms and even in the three higher ones

there is not an instant of absolute happiness.

I will avoid the root cause of my samsaric existence

and practice the excellent path of peace to enlightenment.”


That’s a lot right there.


Look at the first half: in the realms, there’s not an instant of absolute happiness.


The realms refer to ways you can exist, psychologically, or physically. There are two meanings there. Physically, we’re humans. We are not animals right now. We’re humans. Psychologically, it’s a little more complex.

The “portrait” of the six realms is: hell beings, ghosts, animals, humans, giants, gods. (Counting to make sure it’s six, okay that’s six.)

Already it’s pretty complex. On one hand, there’s the idea of different kinds of beings in the world. Most Americans would probably buy into only humans and animals. The rest might seem like superstition or myth. That’s fine. I wouldn’t ask anyone to take this on faith initially. There are plenty of folks, however, for whom the idea of spirits or gods is real: not myth, not metaphor, as real as humans and squirrels and birds.

The psychological take is more comfortable for more Americans, and (more importantly) more useful. This means each “realm” or world of being, of those six, is related to a style of thought, perception, emotion, et cetera.

Here they are, super quick.

1. Hell beings- extreme aggression, anger

(everything seems to be attacking you, as if the world were on fire or very sharp)

2. Ghosts- extreme craving, desire

(you want so much and even when you get what you wanted, it turns out to be unsatisfying or painful, and you keep on wanting)

3. Animals- ignorance, stupidity, being habitual

(you’re serious about what you do, and you do it, in your style, over and over, you’re stuck, with no sense of humor)

4. Humans- desire and pickiness

(this is desire of a more refined sort: you really develop lots of ideas and preferences and systems built up around what you want, what will provide comfort and security)

5. Giants- competitiveness, jealousy, paranoia

(constant comparison, trying to outwit situations and people, constant battling, but not in the rough sense of the hell beings, trying to win or come out ahead)

6. Gods- pleasure, bliss, absorption, escape

(this might sound great, but the experience of extreme pleasure is merely an escape from reality: not only is it not totally satisfactory, it only lasts for a while, after which you move into more unpleasant states of being, like if you wake up with a hangover after “too much fun”)


Sorry about babbling on here. I’ll wrap up. So, those six realms are a psychological map of existence. Back to the “reminder.”

In the three lower realms (hell, animals, ghosts), which are intensely full of neurosis, suffering, and even in the three higher ones (humans, giants, gods), there is not an instant of absolute happiness.

Here it gets simpler.

The implications: there is not one instant of absolute happiness in those conventional styles of being. Not even one instant.

There is not one instant of absolute happiness. Why go after absolute happiness? I think we already do. Then people suffer. The instinct to really be happy, for absolute happiness, is a longing for sacredness in this world. We don’t get there through the six realms, or through being neurotically entranced with the world. We want absolute happiness. That instinct leads to suffering, but if followed out according to a path (not just Buddhism, but a path) the suffering could lead to the absolute.

Overall, being crazy (normal) won’t get you happiness. It will just make you suffer. Seeing that suffering exists could be a good reminder to work through said suffering, and find out what absolute happiness means. Of course there are no guarantees at all. It’s very dangerous. The question following could then be, how does happiness or becoming sane work, in terms of the six realms?

Representation of samsara in Budism (detail).

Representation of samsara in Budism (detail). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Four reminders, new

In my mini-series about the four reminders…

1. Don’t waste your life.

This doesn’t mean go crazy trying to do projects. If you have to, for work, I guess it might be good not to take them too seriously.

2. Death is a constant possibility.

I think one trick here is that it’s easy to live on the surface of things. I know from experience that you can remind yourself intellectually about death and change a lot, and not have your experience change. Then there’s no point. Sometimes, I think moments of real panic, fear, surprise are very useful. They allow you to go beneath the surface of intellectual meandering.

3. There’s cause and effect, suffering and relief.

Certain things cause certain effects, specifically suffering, and the relief of suffering. One point there is that it’s not supposed to be a guilt festival in regards to suffering. Suffering may be the result of negative karma, or negative actions. That doesn’t have to get heavy handed or become some sort of prison sentence. A practical approach seems useful a lot of the time.

4. We’re working on the “root cause of samsaric existence.”

Said root cause sounds a little esoteric or Eastern maybe. It just means you can:

-get lots of relative benefits from practice and study (relaxation, stress relief, focus, health benefits)

– these are not the point (the point is realizing the end of suffering entirely)

So, again: don’t waste your life. Death is always around the corner. Karma is not Zeus blasting you with thunderbolts. The whole deal is about ending suffering completely. Time to fret about making lunch.



Svenska: Dramatiska teatern i Stockholm, mask ...

Svenska: Dramatiska teatern i Stockholm, mask av Carl Milles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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