Sunday, August 30, 2015

Quotes on Death

Went to a funeral yesterday, and this morning the relatives came to see us; gave two talks on death, then this afternoon, our Visuddhimagga class was on mindfulness of death. Here are some of the quotes we read:

“Right from the very day one
Has been conceived inside a womb
They cannot but go on and on,
Nor going can they once turn back” (J-a IV 494).

“The nights and days go slipping by
As life keeps dwindling steadily
Till mortals’ span, like water pools
In failing rills, is all used up” (S I 109).

“The nights and days go slipping by
As life keeps dwindling steadily
Till mortals’ span, like water pools
In failing rills, is all used up” (S I 109).
“As there is fear, when fruits are ripe,
That in the morning they will fall,
So mortals are in constant fear,
When they are born, that they will die.
And as the fate of pots of clay
Once fashioned by the potter’s hand,
Or small or big or baked or raw,4
Condemns them to be broken up,
So mortals’ life leads but to death” (Sn p. 576f.).

“As though huge mountains made of rock
So vast they reached up to the sky
Were to advance from every side,
Grinding beneath them all that lives,
So age and death roll over all,
Warriors, priests, merchants, and craftsmen,
The outcastes and the scavengers,
Crushing all beings, sparing none.
And here no troops of elephants,
No charioteers, no infantry,
No strategy in form of spells,
No riches, serve to beat them off” (S I 102).

“Life, person, pleasure, pain—just these alone
Join in one conscious moment that flicks by.
Ceased aggregates of those dead or alive
Are all alike, gone never to return.
No [world is] born if [consciousness is] not
Produced; when that is present, then it lives;
When consciousness dissolves, the world is dead:
The highest sense this concept will allow”11 (Nidd I 42).

Monday, August 24, 2015

done deed

So... it's been quiet here. Mostly because of switching to daily YouTube videos that serve as a video log instead of this 20th century text stuff.

Still, text has its benefits.

The project to obtain a house to start a Buddhist monastery and meditation centre in West Hamilton, near McMaster University, has taken a turn for the quicker; we've signed a lease for September 1st, and will move in around Labour Day. Our new address will then be:

2 Bond St S, Hamilton, ON L8S 1S7

The idea is to begin to set up a more concrete and useful presence locally, to begin to form a stable organization to spread Buddhist meditation practice to Canada and the world.

We had a volunteer meeting on YouTube last night, facilitated by one of our more active volunteers, and there was good participation from the community. In order to make the monastery project work, such participation and support is going to be necessary, so here's hoping we can work together in productive harmony into the future.

There's a video of the house up on YouTube, in case anyone would like to see where we will be broadcasting from next month:

That's about it for now. Thanks everyone for your support and participation in our projects.

Be well!

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Visuddhimagga Ch. 6 highlights

Highlights from today's study of the Visuddhimagga (Chapter 6, meditation on repulsiveness):


    Establishing his mindfulness well, he should remove his fears in this way: “No dead body gets up and pursues one. If that stone or that creeper close to it were to come, the body might come too; but since that stone or that creeper does not come, the body will not come either. Its appearance to you in this way is born: of your perception, created by your perception. Today your meditation subject has appeared to you. Do not be afraid, bhikkhu.” He should laugh it off and direct his mind to the sign.


    And owing to his abandoning of approval, ill will is abandoned too, as pus is with the abandoning of blood.

    For a living body is just as foul as a dead one, [195] only the characteristic of foulness is not evident in a living body, being hidden by adventitious embellishments.

    This is the body’s nature: it is a collection of over three hundred bones, jointed by one hundred and eighty joints, bound together by nine hundred sinews, plastered over with nine hundred pieces of flesh, enveloped in the moist inner skin, enclosed in the outer cuticle, with orifices here and there, constantly dribbling and trickling like a grease pot, inhabited by a community of worms, the home of disease, the basis of painful states, perpetually oozing from the nine orifices like a chronic open carbuncle, from both of whose eyes eye-filth trickles, from whose ears comes ear-filth, from whose nostrils snot, from whose mouth food and bile and phlegm and blood, from whose lower outlets excrement and urine, and from whose ninety-nine thousand pores the broth of stale sweat seeps, with bluebottles and their like buzzing round it, which when untended with tooth sticks and mouth-washing and head-anointing and bathing and underclothing and dressing would, judged by the universal repulsiveness of the body, make even a king, if he wandered from village to village with his hair in its natural wild disorder, no different from a flower-scavenger or an outcaste or what you will. So there is no distinction between a king’s body and an outcaste’s in so far as its impure stinking nauseating repulsiveness is concerned.
    There was a jackal chanced to see
    A flowering kiᚃsuka in a wood;
    In haste he went to where it stood:
    “I have found a meat-bearing tree!”

    He chewed the blooms that fell, but could,
    Of course, find nothing fit to eat;
    He took it thus: “Unlike the meat
    There on the tree, this is no good.”

    A wise man will not think to treat
    As foul only the part that fell,
    But treats as foul the part as well
    That in the body has its seat.

    Fools cannot in their folly tell;
    They take the body to be fair,
    And soon get caught in Evil’s snare
    Nor can escape its painful spell.

    But since the wise have thus laid bare
    This filthy body’s nature, so,
    Be it alive or dead, they know
    There is no beauty lurking there.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Going Audible

I've gotten back into giving daily dhamma teachings at - past talks are archived at and you can listen live via our Android App or at

I'm thinking this might become a sort of Audio Log or ALog in the future, in which case this ordinary blog might stay neglected. On the other hand, once I'm back in school, I might be posting lots of scholarly stuff here. Who can say?

Just FYI. All is well here.

Be well.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Gambling With Pascal

I don't often answer questions via email from people I don't know, because I just end up repeating myself ad infinitum. Someone just asked me about Pascal's wager, though, which is interesting generally, so here's my answer:

(Pascal's wager says that we are better off believing in the claims of Christianity, because there is danger in not believing them if they turn out to be true, whereas there is no danger in believing them if they turn out to be false.)

If we agree with that argument (called Pascal's Wager), we have a real problem. We must then believe each and every one of the religious claims made by each and every one of the competing religious systems in the world, for fear that each and every one of them might be right.

What this shows is that the argument fails to take into account the fact that when deciding to take any claim seriously, we generally require compelling support for the claim. We don't generally accept any claims in our life just because of the stated consequences of not accepting them. Take for example the following to cases:

1. A bully holds his fist up to your face and says "give me your lunch money or I'll beat you up!"

2. A missionary his bible up to your face and says "believe in the fact that someone who, according to this book, lived 2000 years ago, performed all sorts of physics-defying miracles, brought the dead back to life, brought himself back to life, and promised his disciples that he could move mountains for them if their faith was strong enough, was the son of God, or else you will spend an eternity in a fiery hell, because my book considers that a proper punishment for simply failing to believe this claim!"

It should be clear that the first claim has some evidence backing it up (i.e. the fist). There is no even mildly compelling reason to believe the second claim. If we believe it just because it threatens our future, we should believe all such claims about the nature of redemption, including those of Scientology, Mormonism, etc.

Moreover, it is not true that these claims will not harm us if they turn out not to be true, since they will inform our world view and the way we live our lives. We cannot simply live our lives as we normally would once we accept that God is our saviour; I, for example, would stop paying any attention to Buddhism or meditation, since there would no longer be any need for it, and would instead spend my life praising a God who, if the claims of these many religious groups then turned out to be false, didn't even exist. Besides leading to a terrible rebirth, the dissonance between my belief and reality would certainly cause harm to both my psyche and my relationship with the world around me.

Hope this helps.

Friday, May 22, 2015


May has been eventful; a birthday (3rd 12-year cycle), visits with both parents and both step-parents, two Visakha celebrations down and two more this weekend.

Flying back to Canada tonight. Tomorrow, Saturday, is the Visakha Puja celebration at our monastery in Stoney Creek, then Sunday is the big Toronto celebration in Mississauga's Celebration Square. I'm involved with the Buddhism 101 booth again, so please stop by our booth if you attend. Website for that celebration is here:

Summer looks to be quiet, some meditators maybe coming, preparations for the Fall school semester, oh, and a trip to Vancouver, Seattle, Oregon, and maybe even LA? in late June. Hoping to get up to Manitoulin Island sometime before the rains retreat, maybe July.

Pali and Visuddhimagga study are delayed until next weekend, hopefully we can get back to our regular schedule then.

Be well!

Saturday, May 09, 2015

six by six

Spent the past few days with my father. Back in Stoney Creek for the night, tomorrow teaching in Mississauga to children, then flying to Florida. Teaching at the Florida Buddhist Vihara on Sunday the 17th, and Tuesday and Saturday at a local Dharma group.

Back in Ontario on May 23rd for our Visakha celebration in Stoney Creek, then the big one on Sunday in Mississauga.