Working with suffering

Fault Finding Tendencies

Do you have a tendency to find fault with yourself, others, or the situations that occur around you? In The Art of Disappearing by Ajahn Brahm, page 91-95 we find a important practical suggestion: to investigate the fault-finding mind. Notice if and when your attention slides into negativity, criticism, and blame. Investigate that experience: how [...]

Five aspects of obstacles to understand

Here is the list of five ways of overcoming obstacles to meditation discussed at last Saturday's day long. It is from the Satipatthana Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya, Sutta number 10, paragraph 36): In regards to each hindrance the meditator: 1. Understands when the hindrance is present in me. 2. Understands when the hindrance is absent in [...]

Discouragement and development

At some point in the development of the practice, everyone feels discouraged. For some people disappointment is an occasional hindrance; for other meditators discouragement is a chronic obstacle. There is a story in the Pali Canon of a young monk named Venerable Sona. He practiced walking meditation so diligently that the soles of his feet [...]

2017-02-16T09:34:51-08:00November 10th, 2012|Emotions, Meditation, Mindfulness Practice, Working with suffering|

What thoughts sustain your habits or addictions?

Most of us have some habits or tendencies that we would like to let go of, yet an inner craving or subtle feeling of need fuels the habits causing them to repeat until they appear entrenched in our lives. The habits may be related to eating, smoking, relationships, speech styles, sarcastic humor, entertainments, newspaper reading, [...]

2017-02-16T09:34:51-08:00October 13th, 2012|Daily Life Practice, Emotions, Working with suffering|

Has Mara visited you today?

There is a mythical figure in the Buddhist teachings named Mara. He arrives on the scene in many disguises and disrupts a meditator’s concentration, interferes with the clarity of insight, or tries to seduce the practitioner into wrongful acts. We might see Mara as the personification of hindrances, unskillful impulses, self-doubt, self-destructive habits, and any [...]

Lifting up the discouraged mind

It is almost inevitable that discouragement will arise, from time to time. Perhaps pain, illness, or unemployment creates a difficult time in our lives. Perhaps we apply ourselves to our meditation, but find progress much slower than we had hoped.  How do you prevent discouragement from stopping you on this path of awakening? I’m teaching [...]

2017-02-16T09:34:52-08:00June 10th, 2012|Emotions, Working with suffering|

Are Sense Pleasures Suffering?

We often link happiness to the attainment of sensory pleasure; or we expect sensory pleasures to bring happiness. The emphasis on the unsatisfactoriness of conditioned experiences, as taught in the Buddhist tradition can, at first, seem disheartening.  Why equate innocuous and natural pleasures with suffering? Is the Buddhist path life-denying? We had a rousing dialog [...]

Self Criticism

As I was puttering about the house this morning I heard a crash outside.  My neighbor’s teenage son had accidentally backed his own car into his brother’s car, scraping the side and ripping off the fender along the way. As he paced alongside the damaged vehicle, he repeatedly muttered, “It was so stupid…I was so [...]

Guinea pigs

Last week I traveled to the University of Wisconsin to participate in a scientific study of experienced meditators. It seems to be a rigorous study that is looking at the effects of mindfulness and loving kindness on stress, sleep, lifestyle choices, brain function, attention, and compassion. I don’t really know exactly what they are studying [...]

Using situations of inconvenience to develop equanimity

A quotation from my book, Focused and Fearless, appeared as today’s quote of the day from Tricycle. It pertains nicely to my recent blog on equanimity: “Situations of inconvenience are terrific areas to discover, test, or develop your equanimity. How gracefully can you compromise in a negotiation? Does your mind remain balanced when you have [...]

2017-02-16T09:34:57-08:00April 25th, 2011|Daily Life Practice, Emotions, Working with suffering|

Equanimity or indifference

How do you know if you are experiencing equanimity, or just not bothering to care? People sometimes reject equanimity practice, concerned that the development of equanimity might flatten their feelings, or foster a cold and unconcerned approach to social issues. It is important to distinguish between equanimity and indifference in how we relate to the [...]


In our recent day long program we worked with the practice of forgiveness using three phrases: If I have hurt or harmed you, knowingly or unknowingly, through thought, word, or deed, I ask for your forgiveness. If you have hurt of harmed me, knowingly or unknowingly, through thought, word, or deed, I forgive you. If [...]

How To Be Sick by Toni Bernhard

Toni Bernhard authored the recently published book, How To Be Sick: A Buddhist Inspired Guide For The Chronically Ill And Their Caregivers. It is an inspiring and eye opening account of how the teachings of the Buddha can support the chronically ill person to deal skillfully with their condition, and grow in wisdom and compassion. [...]

2017-02-16T09:34:59-08:00November 25th, 2010|Body, Mindfulness Practice, Sickness & Death, Working with suffering|

Causes taking shape

Buddhism presents a model of twelve links of dependent arising to describe the causal relationships that give rise to suffering. It is usually depicted as a circle, with the cycle beginning with ignorance, and developing through a chain of causal conditions that include volitional formations (activities), consciousness, mentality/materiality, six sense bases, contact, feeling, craving, clinging, [...]

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