Practicing Non-hatred in a Hate-filled World

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The practice of non-hatred may be the most difficult of the Buddhist precepts to apply as a Buddhist practitioner/householder living in a world characterized by a mass of human suffering arising from hatred, greed and ignorance. This talk had particular significance as it was delivered two weeks after the horrific events that transpired in Charleston. I consider this dharma talk a follow-up to my last talk on the Skillful Means of Recognizing Empty Appearance

Download this talk: Download mp3     
Listen to it on iTunes: iTunes podcast

The Ultimate Rx

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You can now download for free on Academia.edu The Ultimate Rx: Cutting through the delusion of self-cherishing, the chapter I authored for the newly published Handbook of Mindfulness: Culture, Context and Social Engagement.

Chapter Abstract:
Western and Buddhist psychologies acknowledge the significant role distorted self-narratives play in poor mental health. But these two disciplines hold divergent views on the utility of ‘cherishing the self’. Western psychology claims high self-esteem is a requirement for self-confidence, happiness, and success. Buddhist psychology asserts wisdom and compassion are the forerunners of genuine confidence and sustainable personal and collective well-being. It further states that endemic self-cherishing—the habitual reification of distorted hyper-egoic self-narratives—is a primary source of mental and emotional affliction. Yet, Buddhist psychology also affirms the innate capacity of all human beings to end the mental suffering of self-cherishing. This chapter explicates Western and Buddhist psychological models of self, Buddhist theories of not-self and conventional and ultimate self-cherishing, and outlines a somatopsychotherapeutic clinical approach for helping individuals struggling with depressive, anxious, trauma-related symptoms and addictions, to recognize self-cherishing mentation and lessen its deleterious effects.

Deluded and Undeluded Mind: Two new dharma talks

dharmatalkslogo2Listen to two dharma talks I recently delivered on Delusion and Non-delusion. 

Delusion and Deluded Mind
This first talk covers the Buddhist psychological description of how delusion manifests in human perception and its effects on collective and personal human suffering.

Download mp3               iTunes podcast

Non-delusion and Undeluded Mind
This second talk covers the Buddhist psychological description of how non-delusion manifests in human perception and practical steps for cultivating non-delusion in daily life.

Download mp3                 iTunes podcast

Eight Verses Of Thought Transformation

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I offer this original sound/artwork as a gift to a world suffering with greed, hatred, and great confusion. This recording features the Eight Verses of Thought Transformation, a profound Tibetan Buddhist teaching by Geshe Langri Tangpa (1054–1123).

The Eight Verses provides a gateway into the awakened mind of a Bodhisattva by beautifully illustrating the inseparability of mind and heart in a very challenging and thoughtful manner. The text is a practical manual for developing the Pāramīs/Pāramitās: generosity, virtue, renunciation, wisdom, enthusiasm, patience, truthfulness, determination, lovingkindness, equanimity/compassion. 

Seating oneself firmly in the sacredness of mind/heart allows full extension of the Bodhisattvic commitment to develop Bodhicitta; the altruistic intention to attain enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings. May this practice liberate all beings from the ocean of samsara.

THE EIGHT VERSES SOUND/ARTWORK

©2007 Lisa Dale Miller    All rights reserved

New Dharma talk on right view available for free download

I have uploaded the mp3 recording of the dharma talk I gave at IMSB on Right View: www.awakenedpresence.com/sounds/right-view.mp3
Download in iTunes podcasts:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/right-view/id1056659008

The first path factor of the Buddha’s Eightfold Noble Path is right view, also known as wise understanding. Though right view is the first of the Eightfold path factors, it represents the fruition of the succeeding seven path factors. Right view and right intention (the second path factor) together encompass supreme training in wisdom; a training designed to awaken the faculty of penetrative understanding—that which knows things as they truly are. The Buddha defined right view as understanding dukkha—the inherent unsatisfactoriness of all experience—its origin, cessation and the path leading to its cessation. He also defined right view as wisely comprehending Dependent Origination—the Buddha’s topology of mind and the cognitive-affective perceptual mechanisms that cause us to misapprehend self and world as separate, autonomous and permanent. The Buddha taught that wrong view is the greatest source of unwholesome mind states and by extension, unwholesome decisions and behaviors. The fruition of right view is a heart-mind liberated from avidyā, the delusion of suffering.

Non-harming is the only viable path to peace

The way things actually are is quite different than the way things appear to an unawakened mind. Indeed, the fundamental confusion (avidyā) about the interdependent nature of self and world resides at the heart of all violence.

Our world is riddled with senseless political and religious conflicts, fueled by erroneous moral justifications for harming others. Violence is continually legitimized as a rational response to fear, greed, and hatred—the three main afflictive mind states that arise from ignorance/delusion (avidyā). One suffering mind, a group of suffering minds, even a nation of suffering minds, will grasp at deluded narratives of separateness, superiority and dissimilarity to readily negate the inherent equality and preciousness of every human life. This is what makes it possible for a human mind to fully empathize with ‘its own kind’ and absolutely loathe and fear ‘the other’.

The Buddha taught that avidyā results from not understanding suffering, its causes and cessation. In Buddhist psychology, avidyā refers to primordial confusion about the actuality of experience; a fundamental cognitive-affective misapprehending of internal and external phenomena—most importantly an apparent internally experienced self, existing separately from all other phenomena. This basic misperception of separateness undermines our ability to recognize the fallacy of egoic dualism and its destructive influence on human behavior. Furthermore, our capacity to harm is directly related to the misapprehension of a separate self.

For this reason, Buddhism proscribes non-harming (ahimsā) as the main practice for attaining wise understanding (vidyā).  Non-harming requires recognition of the inherent equality of all beings and application of virtuous non-preferential compassion. Ahimsā is a profound practice for realizing emptiness, the interdependently co-arisen nature of all phenomena.

Embracing the truth of interdependence and the practice of non-harming could be a game-changer in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Both sides have long blamed each other for choosing violence over negotiation and peace.  This has intensified the hatred and fearfulness of both populaces. There can be no peace as long as both sides refuse to admit that their own security and happiness is mutually dependent. As long as the Palestinians suffer, Israelis will suffer. Seeking the welfare of the other is the only way to assure mutual happiness. While it may seem like a pipe-dream, total commitment to non-harming and non-preferential compassionate action is the only viable path to ending this unending conflict.

Four days ago Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer spoke the truth of the powerlessness of the Palestinian people, “I think we are going to die. It makes me sad that I cannot protect the child I made; I can’t protect him from these missiles. I just can’t. I don’t have the superpower to end this madness.” How can anyone read this father’s plea and not feel brokenhearted? As of yesterday 170 Palestinians have been killed by bombs and 1000 Palestinians have been wounded. 17,000 residents of Gaza have been forced into UN refugee camps located near areas which will be heavily bombed in an immanent Israeli military campaign. 800 Palestinians with foreign passports have left Gaza. Few Israelis have been harmed and none have been killed.

I have no faith that Hamas will ever awaken from their delusional suffering. They clearly do not care about the health and well-being of the people of Gaza. However, when the Israeli government claims that bombing is the only response to Hamas’ stupidity, I say think again. There have always been willing honest negotiators who represent legitimate interests on the Palestinian side. As a Jew I must believe the Israeli government is capable of working with these partners to make peace a reality through non-violence and serious negotiation. In order to do this Israel must loosen its attachment to a national narrative of victimization. Israel is not a weak nation, yet their choices do not reflect inner strength and wisdom. It is time to stop bombing and come to the table with a commitment to work tirelessly to negotiate a fair two-state solution. Fellowship, cooperation and reconciliation is the only path to Israeli-Palestinian co-existence.