Positive emotion has been the topic for our last two Sangha Nights, and it is the second stage in the Triratna System of Practice, which manifests most obviously in the Metta Bhavana meditation practice.
This practice is revolutionary!
It helps us to develop metta for all beings, and as we realise that all beings desire to be happy, it eventually leads to Insight as we transcend subject-object duality. The main characteristic of metta is that it’s entirely without self-interest, and contrary to what we may think, it’s a choice, so not dependent on feelings which may be fleeting.
The Buddha had the same metta for everyone that he met – he was unconditionally willing and committed to helping each person evolve. If you’re one of the people (and there are many), who struggle with the Metta Bhavana practice, you might like to listen to the talks in this series by Jnanavaca, Who Hates the Metta Bhavana
Yesterday we commemorated the Parinirvana, or final passing of the Buddha. We listened to readings describing some of the last events in the Buddha’s life from the Mahaparinibbana Sutta. We also remembered our own loved ones who have died, and contemplated the last words of the Buddha:
“All conditioned things are of a nature to decay – strive on untiringly.”
Myke gave a short talk leading us in reflection on this theme:
In the last four evenings at Sangha Night we’ve been using Vajragupta’s book of this name to consider the “winds” that constantly assail us: Loss & gain; infamy & fame; blame & praise; pain & pleasure. Every day they come and go – resulting in us being blown first in one direction, and then the other, completely at their mercy.
But it doesn’t have to be like this – we can learn to navigate our way through these winds, seeing them as opportunities for developing, for practising generosity, individuality, truthfulness and mindfulness. I like metaphors and a couple came to mind when reflecting on these worldly winds.
The first is “lean in” – as in you have to lean into the wind when walking otherwise you’ll get blown over. I think this has something to teach us about how we deal with the winds in our life. If we just try to escape in the opposite direction, we’ll then find ourselves buffeted by the opposite wind, and back where we started. So instead we need to “lean in” and see what we can learn from the situation.
The second metaphor is that of the technique of tacking when sailing. In order to sail upwind you have to tack back and forth across the headwind. It’s a very deliberate and conscious way of working with the wind, not allowing it to prevent you from getting to where you want to be. The sails have to be in the right place, and you have to have sufficient momentum. I think that’s telling us that in order to work with the winds we have to first create the right conditions, and that starts with everyday ethics and regular meditation practice.
Kamalashila’s book, Buddhist Meditation is the featured book on Windhorse at the moment, so reduced to £14.99 from the cover price of £17.99 – and further discounts available too!
It’s described as the essential guide for those wanting to develop their meditation practice, and as the theme of our practice in the Highland Sangha in 2015 is meditation, you may find it helpful.
In this stimulating discussion with Candradasa , Kamalashila talks about his experience of writing the new edition of Buddhist Meditation and shares some insights into his own history of practice, along with that of the Triratna Community: