Saturday, December 19, 2015

Locke on Free Will

"Is it worth the name of freedom to be at liberty to play the fool, and draw shame and misery upon a man’s self? If to break loose from the conduct of reason, and to want that restraint of examination and judgment which keeps us from choosing or doing the worse, be liberty, true liberty, madmen and fools are the only freemen: but yet, I think, nobody would choose to be mad for the sake of such liberty, but he that is mad already. The constant desire of happiness, and the constraint it puts upon us to act for it, nobody, I think, accounts an abridgment of liberty, or at least an abridgment of liberty to be complained of."

-- John Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding

It is our desire for happiness, Locke says, that determines the will. I agree with this, though it must be observed that, for the most part, we know not what truly leads to our own happiness. And so we suffer in our pursuit of it. Locke points to our ability to judge and alter our desires as the source of true freedom, which too seems agreeable to me - it is this judgement that occurs most efficaciously during mindfulness meditation practice, wherein one truly sees the objects of desire as they are and is able to correctly judge whether they conduce to happiness or suffering.

Last exam Monday, then off to Florida for Pagan-Christian Shiny Tree Day.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Taking Off

Lots of happenings to speak of...

The McMaster Buddhism Association is coming together; our first general meeting is next Wednesday. Other Wednesdays we're meeting on the grass to meditate.

The monastery inauguration went off without a hitch; small gathering, but good vibes all around. Pictures are on Google+ for those interested. Right now there are three of us staying here; me, a Sri Lankan, and an American.

Our meditation group has ascended to another level of usefulness.  There is now a schedule for one-on-one interviews here:

This is for dedicated meditators to undertake part-time courses under weekly guidance. The neat thing is it uses video chat without any plugin or software; we already had two interviews today, and they went quite well.

Feeling busy, but in a good way. It's great to be able to cultivate goodness as a pastime.

Oh, and today is Ajaan Tong's 92nd birthday, so everyone wish him a long and peaceful life :)

Be well.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Settling In

Certainly not settled yet, but getting there.

Been crazy busy lately, moving into the new monastery, working with the McMaster Buddhism Association (MBA), and getting ready for becoming a schoolee again.

First, on the new monastery, it's... strange, really. It's a heavy burden taking on an entire building on one's own, but so far so good. Taking out the trash, sweeping, turning out lights, etc. Normal stuff. Problems still to solve: cutting grass, getting drinking water.

The MBA is up and running with its own website: We have a good exec team, and at clubsfest today we collected 98 email addresses to add to a mailing list. Now we just need to organize some events.

School is somewhat surreal... not a heavy course load by any means, but it's going to take some adjusting to how things have changed - I need something called an i>clicker, and most course material and discussion is on the Internet. At least half of the students have notebooks in class, probably half of these are on Facebook during class (but it is early still). Times have changed. #feelingold

The 20th is still on for our inauguration; hopefully we can get some of the MBA members to come out and rejoice with us. Daily sessions are largely unchanged, though I might start with some online chanting at 6:30 PM, once things settle down for real. Or is it "if"?

Be well.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Urban Dharma Centre Inauguration

In honour of the birthday of Ajaan Tong Sirimangalo, we will be holding the official inauguration of Sirimangalo International's new urban monastery and meditation centre on Sunday, Sept. 20th (Ajaan Tong's birthday is on Monday the 21st).

There will be a blessing ceremony with local monastics in the morning followed by a pot luck lunch, and dharma talk and meditation in the afternoon. All are welcome, please RSVP if you can come, for a general head count. If you can't come, please send us your blessings :)

For those of you Facebookies out there, there's an event you can use to RSVP, otherwise leave a comment here.

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.