In this conversation between old friends, Jonathan Prescott and Michael Melancon discuss joy - what it is, what it is not, and how to foster it in your life. They look to their 20+ year friendship as a training ground for finding joy in practice forms, generosity, relationships, and the accomplishments of others. Although they use different language to describe joy, both agree that joy is what surfaces when we let go.
Fear stalks us all. It lurks in the shadows and avoids our conscious awareness. But fear is not something to fear. It is something to turn towards, embrace and transform.
Fear is an energy that both protects us and distorts us. Helpful fear keeps us out of danger, but sometimes hardens into unhelpful fears that color our perceptions and separate us from reality. Our practice is a healing balm that can liberate us from unhelpful fear by creating space in which we can see our fearful mental formations, experience their distortions, and transform them with patience and kindness. Liberation isn't easy and it isn't quick, but having a Sangha and a teacher helps.
Listen to the talk for more detail and inspiration.
Jonathan Prescott tells stories of kindness so we can feel kindness come alive in our bodies. But kindness is more than a feeling; it's an action, so we explore what kindness is and how we can cultivate kind actions that benefit everyone.
This week, we bathed ourselves in kindness. We enjoyed stories told by both the givers and receivers of kindness and felt the experiences in our own bodies.
We might not be sure whether a Buddha gets angry, but we're certain that anger stalks us. In this talk, Jonathan explores how to practice with our anger by walking that knife's edge between denial and indulgence.
This week, we asked 'Does a Buddha get angry?' Well, who knows? But it's clear that anger stalks each of us, so maybe a better question is 'What do we do with our anger?'
The Buddha taught that we must inhabit that knife's edge between denying our anger (a particularly common tactic among spiritual seekers) and indulging our anger (a response held widely in our culture.) This practice is subtle and not for the faint-hearted: lean too far towards denial and we fall into the hell of aversion; lean too far towards indulgence and we fall into the hell of grasping.
We can indulge our anger by acting out (raging, speaking unkindly, imposing physical violence) but we can also indulge our anger by 'acting in.' A common type of 'acting in' is rumination, in which we turn the story over and over, deepening our suffering with every rehash. It's important to return to present-moment awareness of our bodies in order to notice how much our rumination causes us to suffer, leading us to see that our ruminative stories don't explain our suffering; they cause our suffering. Until we see this for ourselves, it's very difficult to release the rumination and transform our anger into understanding and love.
As challenging as this practice may be, success is possible because you have Buddha Nature. If the Buddha could transform his anger, you can transform yours.
Silence is the foundation of a contemplative life. Jonathan Prescott explores outer silence, inner silence, and their roles in deepening our engagement with the world.
May you open the gift of solitude
In order to receive your soul;
Enter the generosity of silence
To hear your hidden heart;
Know the serenity of stillness
To be enfolded anew
By the miracle of your being.
-- John O'Donohue
John O'Donohue invites us to enter the generosity of silence so we can hear our hidden hearts. Silence is not an end, he suggests; it is a means. Even though silence is a foundation of contemplative life, if it's used as an end it can trap us into believing that we can only be happy when the world is silent.
Why do we cultivate silence? Here are three reasons you might consider:
Silence quiets our own shouting so we can hear the world’s whispers.
Silence quiets our passions so we can awake to the suffering of others.
Silence quiets our individualism so we can find our right place among all.
We cultivate silence by calming ourselves. We calm ourselves by living and behaving simply so that we don't complicate or disturb our environment. As we do this, inner silence arises and strengthens until we see that inner silence isn't dependent upon outer silence.
Listen to the entire Dharma Talk on our Podcast.