Unconditional love is a path of service. It seeks nothing in return, and has no expectations or conditions placed on the recipient.
Author Stephen Kendrick once observed, “The only way love can last a lifetime is if it’s unconditional. The truth is this: love is not determined by the one being loved but rather by the one choosing to love.”
In this video, I share a few thoughts on why unconditional love is so important to your daily practice, and offer a challenge for those interested in cultivating a greater unconditional love for others, as part of their Zenkondo/Bodhisattva path.
“When you plant a seed of love it is you that blossoms.”
– Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati
On this first day of the New Year, the Year of the Horse, we exercise care to act with a pure and righteous intention, so that we can set the stage for our coming year.
This New Year (the year of the Wood Horse) not only ushers in a year of fast victories, unexpected adventure and travel, but also concides with the start of the month of the Fire Tiger, which makes the energies of this new year particularly lively and powerful.
The ancient practitioners of the Way would encourage us to “Hold the old and the new. Be the elder and the child.”
Today we are the “child”, embarking on a journey to the present moment, where we become “the elder” — the ancient holder of the wisdom that recognises our True Nature as Pure Awareness.
Welcoming pain and sadness might seem counter-intuitive for some of us, but it should become part of our spiritual practice, if we ever want to be free from the control such experiences might seem to have over our lives.
When we begin to welcome those things we associate or perceive as “negative” into our lives, we begin to open ourselves to the lessons they bring. Welcome pain with the same openness with which you open pleasure… sadness with the heart the welcomes joy… and soon you will become more aware of how these phenomena come and go very quickly in our lives. You begin to become more deeply present, and live takes on a richer, fuller texture, which is PURE AWARENESS and LOVE itself.
This spaciousness… what we call Pure Awareness… actually raises our vibrational level, allowing us to recognise that all phenomena, including pain and sadness, are our teachers. We slowly begin to cease striving after that which we perceive as “pleasant”, or running from that which we perceive as “unpleasant”. And in the learning to simply abide calmly in the moment, we experience everything that we missed before.
What is habituation, and does it have any connection with suffering and attachment?
The Buddha taught that there were two causes for suffering: the karmic actions we take, contaminated by our delusions; and the delusions themselves. Another way of looking at this is to realise that, as we read in A Course in Miracles, “Whatever is not love is fear.”
Anger, attachment, greed, desire and ignorance arise out of fear. When we seek happiness outside its true Source, then we are acting out of fear. When we experience pain, due to the consequences of external conditions, causes or past actions (karma), if we try to avoid that pain (delusional behaviour) we suffer.
Once we recognise the impermanent nature of things, we learn to no longer grasp at them, or attempt to avoid them. We see them as they are – transient experiences or conditions, which arise as a result of other interdependent causes and conditions.
In general terms, attachment arises from one of four types of grasping: grasping after opinion, grasping after sensory pleasure, grasping after rule and rite, and grasping after the theory of “self”.
In more general terms, we can say that grasping after those things we imagine to bring us happiness, and grasping to avoid those things we perceive as causing us pain are the foundational conditions, which give rise to attachments.
But there is another cause of suffering, and form of attachment that we don’t often think about — attachment to habituation. And that’s the subject of today’s Dharma video. In today’s dharma video we explore the nature and result of habituation in our lives.
“Each one of us has a story to tell… each one of us is on a journey. No one’s story is more sacred, less sacred than the story of anyone else. It is, after all, just ONE story… OUR story.” – Khenpo Gurudas Śunyatananda (from the book, “The Dharma of Compassion“, Vajra Sky Media)
A Reflection on Memorial Day from the Buddhist Perspective
What is Memorial Day from a Buddhist perspective? How do we observe a day that traditionally has become associated with honouring those who died in the service to their countries, when we recognise that the boundaries of wars and violent conflicts are delusional lines drawn in the sand of a broken mind? For me, as a spiritual teacher, and a contemplative practitioner, whose roots transcend denominationalism and religion itself, there must be a way to make skilful use of this day, like every other, and to bring some kind of witness to a suffering world.
Lately, I have had time to reflect quite a bit on illness, dis-ease, and on the role mindfulness plays in our own and others’ sicknesses.
For much of the past eighteen years, I’ve not awoken in anything less than debilitating pain, living with a burdensome fatigue, intense skin sensitivity that comes and goes for hours at a time, and intermittent, annoying fevers. Since the onset of this hypothyroid challenge, which I don’t believe is anything I will have to deal with longterm, all of these things have intensified.
A few years ago, I posted a question on Facebook, and asked how many people believed that Horus, one of the oldest gods of the ancient Egyptian religion — the Falcon-headed Avenger, was a real being. Fifty people commented saying, “Of course not.”
Speaking at a workshop after the film, “The Avengers”, I asked how many people there believed that Odin, Thor and Loki actually exist, 47 out of 49 people said they did not.
But there is a vast disconnect in the intelligence, rationality and spiritual maturity here in the West, where we are all too quick to suspend reason, and demand that the whole world believe a legend that has been shown time and time again, with empirical evidence sociologically, historically and anthropologically to have been an adaptation of the ancient legends of the “man-god” mythos.
In Christendom, the story of the Last Supper is a poignant and richly meaningful point in the narrative of Rav Yeshua’s last days, before his betrayal and death.
In the Sacramental Movement it is a time when the tabernacle is emptied, and the Presence Light extinguished, the altar stripped of its linens, and the entire sanctuary takes on the stark and lifeless appearance and feeling of a tomb. For me, this was always one of the most profoundly heart-wrenching of liturgies to perform, and would mark the beginning of the three days of contemplation upon impermanence, death and awakening.