Posts Tagged ‘compassion’

Supporting mindfulness

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is involved in attention, judgment, planning, impulse control, execution and empathy. Is this related to what buddhists call mindfulness? I think it is.

Alcohol and drugs harm this part of the brain, which is why perhaps you often find injunctions to not drink or take drugs.

On the other hand, from what I can gather sleep, regular high protein meals, exercise, goal setting and following, and most interestingly meditation all help to develop the prefrontal cortex.

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Is there a smoking gun?

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

Imagine for just a moment that we don’t die. How would that affect the way we live? It’s true that it can breed an incredible poverty inducing complacency. The belief that a person is born the way they are because of karma.

On the other hand it could give rise to an incredible sense of invulnerability. How would we live if we felt invulnerable that whatever happened? We might start making fearless choices, taking more risks.

Imgagine realising that you’ve had other senses of self that were completely different from the one you have now, that though some part of you have survived your ego hasn’t. How seriously would you take yourself then?

Reincarnation is an important doctrine in Buddhism, yet in our own personal experience it is, for most people anyway, unverified.

So why aren’t we aware of previous incarnations. Is it that we need to give each other a second chance, a fresh opportunity? Would the sense of guilt or shame as we look back be too overwhelming? Do we need to develop a profound level of compassion towards ourselves as well as towards others to be able to cope with the memories? Is compassion, like karma, a law of the universe?

If you’re interested there are some other interesting videos to watch in YouTube.

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The End of Karma

Monday, August 6th, 2007

The faith of Buddhism is that we can end pain and suffering. Or as it’s called in Prakrit, dukka. What’s curious about life is that there are particular situations that seem to be triggers for dukka. And I think in the western world, at least, they are money and relationships with perhaps a third thrown in there, at least as we grow older – death. Or perhaps these three are my own constellation.

Then you look over your own life and see various patterns, karmic patterns perhaps. I suffered for twenty years from an obsessive compulsive disorder, triggered by an incredibly small incident. Was that karma? Are we rooting out more than the contents of a mind that has been conditioned in this life?

And then you do your best in a work situation, only to be caught in politics that have nothing to do with you. Yet on some level you feel this is of your own doing. Is that cogitations of an infantile mind believing itself to be more powerful than it is or a real insight into a karmic situation?

There is no doubt that we want to impose some kind of order onto what might otherwise seem to be a random life. Is the end of karma the beginning of the acceptance of randomness.

At the same time it does seem that we are beginning to anchor in a watchfulness, an ever present awareness. It is clear to me that dukka is caused by my own mind. I am awake to the extent that I realise this at least intellectually and awake enough to be doing something about it.

Is our faith that we can end the pain and suffering caused by our own minds? For the ever-present-awareness it strikes me that there is no death and certainly no physical nor mental pain.

But is there something else going on other than our own liberation? I think so and I think that it is the end of separation. A Tibetan once wrote that there is only one sin and that is the sin of separation. If that is true, and I tend to believe it is, then unity is surely the present goal. Surely that means dealing with not only our own karma but others’ karma as well because they are inextricably linked. Or perhaps that others’ karma is our karma. And that’s the root of compassion isn’t it. Don’t you think?

There is no doubt that there is group karma. If our greed, which has now cycled into global warming, continues to develop then we will have major global calamities on our hands. Group karma. Those of us who have modified our greed and our consumption patterns will be deeply involved in the consequences. I don’t believe for a second there will be some especial 144,000 secretly sequestered. We will suffer together.

And so we come back to the thought that we become enlightened not just for ourselves but for all beings. And the root of that enlightenment is compassion. Subhuti who was the other party in the Diamond Sutra, one of Zen’s foundation scriptures, before this enlightening discussion with buddha had developed his root in Metta – loving kindness.

Dhyana and Metta. It seems to be the only way through this cycle of karma that the world faces, that we the speaking monkeys have brought. Are we up to stopping this looming cycle of pain and suffering before it’s too late.

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