Co-Authors: Dillon Shelton & Ronya Banks
Spiritual seekers, beware! The path to enlightenment can be both rewarding and treacherous. Many great spiritual seekers throughout time described how their spiritual practices underwent a time period(s) laden with darkness, despair, fear, anxiety, depression, and hopelessness. This concept was originally coined the “Dark Night of the Soul” by St John of the Cross, a Spanish poet and priest in the 1500’s. References to the Dark Night can also be found in Buddhist, Kundalini, Pagan/Occult, Christian, Jewish, and Islamic literatures.
In a real dark night of the soul it is always three o’clock in the morning. – F. Scott Fitzgerald
So, what is it? Will I experience it? Is there any way to avoid it? And, if I find myself in this stage, how can I traverse it with the least amount of suffering possible? The answers to these questions follow….. Continue reading
Posted in Dharma
Tagged Dark Night, Dark Night of the Soul, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Insight Meditation, John of the Cross, Mahasi Sayadaw, Meditation, Mindfulness Meditation, Progress of Insight, Religion & Spirituality, Spiritual practice, St John of the Cross, Stages of Insight, Vipassana
During one of our meditation group’s Buddha Dharma Exploration Classes, our guest teacher – Burmese monk: Bhante UJotika said that the Buddha stressed that we: cultivate compassion and not sorrow. One of the sangha members asked how to deal with the deep sorrow one feels with the death of a loved one. This was a great question that propelled me on a personal contemplation and exploration process around how to not cultivate more personal sorrow, when one is already experiencing sorrow. I have surmised that one can experience sorrow skillfully without cultivating more sorrow, and this article tells you how. Continue reading
When I began attending Vipassana meditation retreats many years ago, I kept hearing the teachers point out the three Poisons, or three Unwholesome Roots that lead us to suffering as: “greed,” “hatred” and “delusion.”
As my practice began to ripen and unfold, I started clearly seeing how my mind was steeped in ill-will and delusion. However, I didn’t see much greed. Boy, was I delusional! After several years of intensive practice, I gradually began opening up to an ocean’s worth of internal greed! Wow! I had so much resistance to opening up to and accepting – greed. Whenever greed appeared, I shot myself with subsequent poisonous arrows by feeling resistance, shame and disappointment. After all, how could I have greed? I was such a generous person, right? It was a gradual process, but once I began accepting and exploring greed, my meditation practice really began to soar! The internal greed also began to loosen its stronghold.
This article is intended to support you in your spiritual practice, as it explores GREED: it’s origin, how to recognize it in yourself, and how to work with greed skillfully. Continue reading
Posted in Dharma, Uncategorized
Tagged Desire, disease of greed, Greed, greedy desires, healthy mind, Meditation, restlessness, unwholesome desires, Vipassana, wholesome desires, worry
Of all of my spiritual practices, consistently engaging in skillful speech has possibly been my greatest challenge. Sometimes, it seems as though it takes constant effort, awareness, intention and a compassionate mind/heart (citta) to be skillful with my speech with myself and others.
Oftentimes, meditators delude themselves into thinking that their practice occurs only when they are sitting meditating on their cushions or chairs. Wrong! Our meditation practice supports us in in being more aware and present during our wakeful life practice, but our moment-to-moment life practice is where the juice is at! Continue reading
Posted in Dharma
Tagged Access to Insight, Adam, Buddha, Buddhism, ethical communication, ethics, Gautama Buddha, Noble Eightfold Path, Religion and Spirituality, responsible communication, right speech, sacred speech, skillful speech, Thanissaro Bhikkhu
I recently attended my first Thich Nhat Hanh (TNH) Buddhist retreat. My most enjoyable moments during this retreat occurred while listening to TNH’s talk about mental formations – what they are, where they come from, and how to work skillfully with them, once they arise. This article is my understanding of TNH’s talk, as well as my own personal deeper exploration around mental formations.
According to TNH, consciousness is like a house, in which the basement is our store consciousness (unconscious mind) and the living room is our mind consciousness (conscious mind). Continue reading
Posted in Dharma, Uncategorized
Tagged anger, Buddhism, Buddhist, Consciousness, Eight Consciousnesses, Meditation, Mental Formations, Mind Consciousness, mindfulness, Sorrow, Store Consciousness, Thich Nhat Hanh, Unconscious mind
When you think of love, you can probably remember hearing some of your favorite love songs sung by what sounded like love-sick musicians, or remember hearing the utterances of a sweet poem gushing about the emotional ups and downs associated with the experience of love.
The subject tonight is Love
And for tomorrow night as well,
As a matter of fact
I know of no better topic
For us to discuss
Until we all Die!
It seems as if our human culture has a love affair and preoccupation with love, as evidenced by the limitless number of books written on the subject; love questionnaires and quizzes found in magazines and newspapers; numerous theatrical productions, television shows, and award-winning movies honing in on the nature of love, and one’s trials and tribulations while attempting to pursue or maintain loving relationships.
So what is this thing called Love? Why is it such a big deal? Is it that important? Can love help you gain more traction in your spiritual practice? Let’s explore LOVE.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Agape, Buddhism, Dalai Lama, Eros, Eroticism, Intimate relationship, Love, loving relationship, Mettā, mindfulness, Mindfulness Meditation, Philia, self love, The Subject Tonight Is Love: 60 Wild and Sweet Poems of Hafiz (Compass), True Love, Vipassana
I recently went out to dinner with a group of friends. During the evening’s turn of events, I witnessed a phenomenon in which it did not appear as though any of my friends were really interested in hearing anything anyone else had to say, as each person took turns either interrupting the one who was speaking, or being interrupted while attempting to complete a sentence. Since then, I’ve noticed that most people really don’t listen as they interrupt each other or space out while another person is speaking!
I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen. – Ernest Hemingway
So, what’s going on? For over a year now, I’ve made the conscious decision to incorporate Deep Listening as part of my daily practice. This practice has been one of the most Continue reading
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Awareness, Buddha, Deep Listening, Ernest Hemingway, Gautama Buddha, Health, Listening, Mindfulness Meditation, New Age, Person, Religion and Spirituality, Spiritual practice, United States, Vipassana, Worship