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The Heart of the Buddha’s Teachings

The day I write this, January 20, 2021 is a hopeful day here in the States and for many around the world, reminding us all we can begin again and make a fresh start.

This morning we witnessed an inspiring and peaceful inauguration of a new president and vice president in the very place where just two weeks ago a violent mob, fuelled by malevolent lies, stormed the capitol building, attempting to overturn the democratic election results.

In so many places around the world we’re facing multiple intersecting crises: The Covid-19 pandemic, political unrest, racial injustice, economic hardship, climate change, and a widespread feeling of being overwhelmed by so many difficulties.

What a turbulent time. Nurturing our dharma practice and establishing a resilient refuge, is essential in circumstances like these. We can walk back from the brink and remember what is important, trustworthy, and noble.

It is natural to feel the impact of these alarming conditions. If we unconsciously react to painful feeling, resisting it and compulsively trying to avoid it, we perpetuate an anxiety producing pattern. I see this in myself. Remember, the heart of the Buddha’s teachings is that the Dharma is always here and now, timeless, ever inviting us to come and see for ourselves the true peaceful nature of reality.


Suggested Readings:

1) Two talks from Ajahn Chah’s Living Dhamma: “Making the Heart Good” and “Living in the World with Dhamma.”

2) “Living with the Cobra”, a talk from The Teachings of Ajahn Chah, p. 54

Tips for Practice:

  1. Breathe deeply into the sensations of this moment, and on long slow outbreaths, gently relax the tight places in the body as you savor the texture of the feeling tones. Practice honoring this moment as you breathe, appreciating the truth of how things actually are. Can we consciously be grateful to be aware and alive?
  2. Is it possible, as you breathe in and out, to quietly enjoy the sensations that are present, even the painful ones? Can you be at ease with them, even for moments. Can we acknowledge and be at ease with the conditioned reactivity to feelings, perceptions, and thoughts, knowing this is how it is right now. Cultivating an attitude of kindness – non contention – allows these tendencies to calm down.
  3. Notice the changing nature of the feelings and reactions. Appreciate the unmoving awareness that knows the change. Cultivating patience burns up the afflictions and reveals the luminous heart that has been here all the time.