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Untouched by the World

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Just as a blue or red or white lotus born in water, grows in water and stands up above the water untouched by it, so too I, who was born in the world and grew up in the world, have transcended the world, and I live untouched by the world.” AN II, 37

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The Buddha was the One Who Knows. What did he know? He knew the world. Having known the world he rose above it and remained unaffected by it. When we recollect the Buddha in Morning and Evening Chanting we say he saw through the world (lokavidu). In Buddhist language the world is characterized by the eight worldly dhammas, the eight worldly conditions: gain and loss; fame and disrepute; praise and blame; happiness and suffering.

With the Buddha’s enlightenment came a perfect equanimity that lifted his mind well clear of these four pairs. People in the world whose minds are not trained are infatuated with these conditions; they are continually spun around by them. They get thrown from one to the other like a rubber dingy on a raging ocean. We must follow the Buddha and cultivate an awareness that sees these four conditions and their opposites as essentially the same: impermanent, unsatisfactory, and without self. None can be relied upon; all are void of meaning.

It is a general rule that if you attach to one of the pairs you will inevitably suffer when its opposite arises. However, if we can manage to loosen our grip on these conditions, then whatever arises, be it happiness or gain, fame or praise, then when their opposites arise we do not suffer over them.

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I’ve been a busy bhikkhu over the last week – since the retreat and in the run up to and over Visakha Puja. So this will be a very short (and late) post. As most of you know we celebrate the birth, enlightenment and passing of the Buddha on Visakha Puja.

I was on the hot seat for our meditation open evening last night. I spoke of the Buddha’s enlightenment and what it actually meant. I quoted one of my favourite pieces from the scriptures where the Buddha likens himself to a lotus that is born in the water, grows up in the water and eventually stands up, untouched by the water. In the same way he was born in the world, grew up in the world and eventually transcended the world. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Five Spiritual Faculties, Part 2

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Let’s get back to the Five Spiritual Faculties! A few weeks ago we looked at the need to balance the first pair of faculties: confidence and wisdom. This time we’ll look at the importance of balancing energy or exertion with samadhi. Samadhi here describes the element of calm in meditation. Here we are essentially focusing on the need to exert the correct amount of energy in our meditation. Once again King Mindfulness watches over these two subjects and tries to ensure that they complement each other, without one becoming dominant.

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Sona and the Lute

There’s a story in the scriptures that concerns a young monk named Venerable Sona. He was staying in the Cool Wood near Rajagaya. One evening he was meditating in seclusion after having done walking meditation until the soles of his feet were cracked and bleeding.

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Retreat Time

May 4, 2008

I’m teaching a retreat at Bhavana Dhamma at the moment so there won’t be a new teaching until next Monday (12th).