Saturday 28 February 2015

The Scientific Buddha

The Scientific Buddha

Why do we ask that Buddhism be compatible with science?  Donald S. Lopez, Jr.

According to Buddhist doctrine, there can be only one buddha for each historical age. A new buddha appears in the world only when the teachings of the previous buddha have been completely forgotten, with no remnant—a text, a statue, the ruins of a pagoda, or even a reference in a dictionary—remaining. Because the teachings of Gautama Buddha, the historical Buddha—that is, our Buddha—remain present in the world, we have no need for a new buddha. But in the 19th century, a new buddha suddenly appeared in the world, a buddha who is not mentioned in any of the prophecies. What he taught is said to be compatible with modern science, and so I call him the Scientific Buddha.

Monday 23 February 2015

Religions of the East ( Overview and Buddhism )

Religions of the East  ( Overview and Buddhism )

Education Books
Published on Dec 7, 2014   01 - The Nature of Religion     07  - Theravada: Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha 08 - Mahayana : Emptiness and Compassion  09 - Zen Buddhism, Koans and Zazen   10 - Tibetan Buddhism and the Dalai Lama     11 - Buddhism in America

Monday 16 February 2015

Introduction to Meditation : 1 - 6 by Gill Fronsdal

Breath :

Body :

Emotions :


Mind :

Daily Life:

Other related presentations:

Introduction to Meditation : 1 - 6

by Study and practice of Buddhist teachings (Gill Fronsdal)

Published on Feb 15, 2015

1. Mindfulness Exercises for the First Week : Breath

You will get the most benefit from this course if you engage yourself with the practice during the week between our class meetings. During the first week please try the following three practices:

Sit one twenty-minute session of meditation each day. For this first week, focus on staying aware of your breath as described in the next section of the handout. Begin and end each sitting with, a minute of conscious reflection: At the start, clearly remind yourself that you are about to devote yourself to being mindful and present. Consciously let go of any concerns, remembering that you will have plenty of time to take them up again later. At the end, reflect on what happened during your meditation session. There is no need to judge what happened; you just want to strengthen your mindfulness through a brief exercise in recollection.

Choose one routine physical activity that you perform most days and experiment with doing it mindfully. This means doing just this one activity while you are doing the exercise – not listening to the radio at the same time, for example. It is also best to let go of any concern about the results or in finishing quickly. Remain in the present as best you can. When the mind wanders, simply come back to the activity. Activities you might choose include brushing your teeth, washing the dishes, or some routine act of driving or walking.

For one half-hour period during the week, maintain some regular attention of your posture as you go about with some normal activity. Without straining, assume a posture that is alert and upright. Notice what happens to your mood, thoughts, feelings, presence, and degree of mindfulness as you do this exercise.

Meditation Instruction: Mindfulness Of Breathing

Sit in a comfortable but alert posture. Gently close your eyes. Take a couple of deep breaths, and, as you exhale, settle into your body, relaxing any obvious tension or holding. Then, breathing normally, bring your awareness to your body, sensing for a short while how the body presents itself to you. There is no particular way to be; just notice how you are at this moment.

Then, from within the body, as part of the body, become aware of your breathing, however it happens to appear. There is no right or wrong way to breathe while doing mindfulness practice; the key is to simply notice how it actually is right now. Let the breath breathe itself, allowing it to be received in awareness. Notice where in your body you feel the breath most clearly. This may be the abdomen rising and falling, the chest expanding and contracting, or the tactile sensations of the air passing through the nostrils or over the upper lip. Wherever the breath tends to appear most clearly, allow that area to be the home, the center of your attention.

Keep your attention connected with the inhalations and exhalations, sensing the physical sensations that characterize them. Let go of the surface concerns of the mind. Whenever the mind wanders away, gently come back to the breath. There is no need to judge the wandering mind; when you notice that the mind has wandered, simply return to the breath without evaluation.

To help maintain contact between awareness and the breath, you may use a label or mental note. Softly, like a whisper in the mind, label the in-breath and out-breath, encouraging the awareness to stay present with the breath. You can label the inhalations and exhalations as “in” and “out,” or perhaps use “rising” and “falling” for the movement of the abdomen or the chest. Don’t worry about finding the right word, just use something that will help you stay connected.

There is no need to force the attention on the breath; to strengthen your ability to become mindful and present, use the gentle power of repeatedly, non judgmentally returning and resting with the breath.

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2. Body

Continue your daily twenty-minute meditation session.

In the midst of your regular activities, devote two one-hour periods during the week to being mindful of your body. During this time, perhaps using a timer or some other cue to remind yourself, periodically check in with your body, maybe every five minutes or so. Notice, in particular, your shoulders, stomach, face, and hands. If you find tension in any of these places, relax.

Devote one meal to eating slowly and mindfully, paying attention to the tastes, textures, temperature, and other qualities of your food, and to the experience of your body eating. (When does your body tell you that have had enough?) If possible, take the meal in silence, with no other activities to distract you. You might want to put down your spoon or fork between bites. Whenever your mind wanders, or whenever you get caught up in reactions to what is happening, relax and come back to the simplicity of eating mindfully.

Start noticing when, how and by what, your attention becomes distracted or fragmented. Are there any common themes or patterns in the kinds of thoughts, feelings, activities, or pre-occupations where your mindfulness disappears? If you discover any, discuss what you find with somebody: a friend, relative, or colleague.

Meditation Instruction: Mindfulness of the Body

During meditation, center your awareness primarily on the physical sensations of breathing. With dedication, but without strain, keep the breath in the foreground of attention. The idea is to be relaxed and receptive while alert and attentive. As long as other experiences such as bodily sensations, sounds, thoughts, or feelings are in the background of your awareness, allow them to remain there while you rest your attention with the sensations of breathing.

When a strong physical sensation makes it difficult for you to stay with the breath, simply switch your awareness to this new predominant experience. The art of mindfulness is recognizing what is predominant and then sustaining an intimate mindfulness on whatever that is. When the mind wanders and you lose the mindful connection with the sensation, gently and without judgment return your attention to the physical sensation.

As if your entire body was a sensing organ, sense or feel the physical experience. Simply allow it to be there. Drop whatever commentary or evaluations you may have about the experience in favor of seeing and sensing the experience directly in and of itself. Carefully explore the particular sensations that make it up – hardness or softness, warmth or coolness, tingling, tenseness, pressure, burning, throbbing, lightness, and so on. Let your awareness become as intimate with the experience as you can. Notice what happens to the sensations as you are mindful of them. Do they become stronger or weaker, larger or smaller, or do they stay the same?

As an aid to both acknowledging the physical experience and sustaining your focus, you can ever so softly label the experience. The labeling is a gentle, ongoing whisper in the mind that keeps the attention steady on the object of mindfulness. You should primarily sense directly the experience and what happens to it as you are present for it.

Be alert for when the focus of your attention moves from the physical sensations to your reactions to the sensations and your thoughts about them. If this happens move your attention back to the felt-sense of the sensations. Try to keep yourself independent of whatever thoughts and reactions you have. Relax.

Once a physical sensation has disappeared or is no longer compelling, you can return to mindfulness of breathing until some other sensation calls your attention.

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3. Emotions

Mindfulness Exercises for the Third Week

Lengthen your daily meditation session to 25 minutes. When you first sit down, notice the main concerns, feelings, physical sensations that may be pre-occupying you. Acknowledge them and remain attentive to any tendency to become lost in your thoughts concerning these experiences. Meditation proceeds easiest when we are willing to suspend – for the duration of the meditation – the need to think about anything.

At least once during the week “ride out an emotion.” Sometime during the week when you are feeling a strong desire, aversion, fear, or other emotion, don’t act on the feeling. Rather, bring your mindfulness to the feeling and observe the changes it undergoes while you are watching it. You might choose to sit, stand or walk around quietly while you do this study. Things to notice are the various body sensations and tensions, the changes in the feeling’s intensity, the various attitudes and beliefs that you have concerning the presence of the emotion, and perhaps any more primary emotion triggering the feeling. If after a time the emotion goes away, spend some time noticing what its absence feels like.

Spend part of a day making a concentrated effort to notice feelings of happiness, contentment, well-being, joy, pleasure, and ease. Even if your day is primarily characterized by the opposite of these, see if you can identify even subtle and seemingly insignificant moments of these positive states. It can be as simple as appreciating the texture of a doorknob or a flash of ease in your eyes as you notice the blue sky after the fog has burned off. This is not an exercise for manufacturing positive states but rather discovering that these may be much more a part of your life than your preoccupations allow you to notice.

Spend part of another day noticing which feelings tend to pull you into a state of preoccupation. Sometimes there are patterns in the kinds of feelings that lead to becoming lost in thoughts. Common sources for distraction are desire, aversion, restlessness, fear, and doubt. Are any of these more common for you than the others? What is your relationship to these feelings when they appear? As you notice the patterns, does that change how easily you get pulled into their orbit? By clearly noticing their presence, can you overcome any of the ways in which these interfere with, or inhibit, whatever activities you need to do?

4. Thinking

Mindfulness Exercises for the Fourth Week

For the remaining two weeks of this class, extend your daily meditation session to 30 minutes. For at least the first ten minutes, keep your meditation simple — focus on the breath. To the best of your ability, when some other experience gets in the way of being with the breath, simply let it go and come back to the breath. After this ten-minute warm-up period, switch to more open mindfulness. This means continuing with the breath until something else becomes more compelling. When physical sensations, emotions or thinking predominate, let go of the breath and focus your meditative awareness on these. When nothing else is compelling, come back to the breathing.

Spend some time reflecting on the assumptions, attitudes and beliefs you have about your thoughts. Do you usually assume that they are either true false, right or wrong? Do you identify with your thoughts? That is, do you think that what you think defines who you are? Do you believe that your thinking will solve your problems or that it is the only means to understand something? After you have reflected on this on your own, have a conversation with someone about what you have discovered.

Once during the next week, spend a two-hour period tracking the kinds of things you think about. Find some way to remind yourself every few minutes to notice what you are thinking. Are the thoughts primarily self-referential or primarily about others? Do they tend to be critical or judgmental? What is the frequency of thoughts of “should” or “ought”? Are the thoughts mostly directed to the future, to the past, or toward fantasy? Do you tend more toward optimistic thoughts or pessimistic ones? Do your thoughts tend to be apprehensive or peaceful? Contented or dissatisfied? This is not an exercise in judging what you notice, but in simply noticing. Most people live in their thoughts. This is a two-hour exercise in regularly and frequently stepping outside of the thought-stream to take up residence, albeit briefly, in a mindful awareness that is bigger than the thinking mind.

Once during the next week, spend a two-hour period giving particular attention to your intentions. Before we speak or act there is always an impulse of motivation or intention. Notice the various kinds of desires and aversions that fuel your intentions. For this exercise, you might choose a period where you can go about some ordinary activity in a quiet and mostly undisturbed way. You might even slow your activities down some so that you are more likely to notice and evaluate your motivations.

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5. Mind

Meditation Instruction: Mindfulness of the Mind

During meditation periodically ask yourself what is your relationship to what is happening. For example, you may feel some discomfort. Be mindful of your relationship to the discomfort. Are you clinging or resisting? Are you relaxed, generous, or kind towards the discomfort? Once you notice the relationship, hold it in the warmth of your attention. Once you have done this, you can investigate some of the present-moment elements of how you are relating. How does it affect your breathing? Are there any physical sensations or emotions associated with it? What are your beliefs behind it? Also, as you notice the relationship, ask yourself if that relationship or attitude represents a way you want to be or whether it contributes to a sense of dissatisfaction or dis-ease.
Also, remember that there is no need for judging, criticizing or being upset with what we see when we look at our relationship to the present moment, even if what we see is unfortunate or difficult. Similarly, there is no need to praise or get involved with fortunate or preferred attitudes. In either case, the practice is to be mindful of the relationship or attitude without being for it or against it. This practice then allows the relationship or attitude to settle or relax.

Periodically notice the general state of your mind. Does it feel tired or alert, contracted or expanded, calm or agitated, fuzzy or clear, resistant or eager, pushing forward or pulling back? Putting aside whatever commentary or judgments you might have about the state of your mind, use your mindfulness to become more aware of the state. What emotions come with it? What is its felt sense? What relationship is there between your mind state and how your body feels? What does it feel like to step back and observe the state of mind rather than be in it? What happens to your state of mind as you are mindful of it?

Mindfulness Exercises for the Fifth Week

Choose an activity you do on a daily basis. This can be driving to work, preparing breakfast, reading email, etc. For one week each time you do this chosen activity become aware of your state of mind. How does your state of mind influence how you relate to the activity? Keep a log of your changing states over the week and compare the role your mind state has on how you do the activity.
Consider what ordinary activity you do that helps you have a good state of mind. During this week, do this activity more often and become more mindful of what this state of mind is like physically, emotionally and cognitively. Explore how you might realistically maintain this state of mind after you have finished the activity that tends to bring it on.
Have a conversation with a good friend (or complete stranger if that is easier) about what might be the most common attitudes that you operate under. How do these attitudes influence what you do, how you see life, and how you relate to yourself? How do you tend to relate to people who have similar attitudes to your most common ones?

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6. Mindfulness in Daily Life

As in meditation, it is possible to develop greater presence and awareness in our daily lives. Some people find it useful to have cues throughout the day that remind them to notice what is happening in the present, i.e. what they are doing, feeling, or thinking. A common cue is the phone ringing. Rather than rushing to immediately answer the phone, the ringing is a prompt to be mindful. This is also a great way to prepare for the phone conversation.

Some people use walking through doorways as a mindfulness cue. Whenever they walk through a doorway into a different room they notice and pay attention to what is happening with themselves and in the new room. Waiting for traffic lights to turn green can be another cue for a bit of mindfulness.

It can also be useful to bring a heightened mindfulness to particular daily tasks. Some people do this by choosing to eat one meal a day in silence without doing anything else besides eating. Others will do mindfulness while walking – some people will park in a distant parking place so to have a short period of walking meditation. Cleaning can also be a great time to cultivate mindfulness.

A fascinating area for mindfulness is during a conversation. Much can be discovered by listening more actively and tracking one’s internal responses and impulses during the conversation. The qualities needed to listen well are the same qualities needed to meditate well.


The second way to build on the foundation of our mindfulness is to develop greater concentration. Concentration helps provide steadiness and strength to mindfulness. If mindfulness is a telescope then concentration is the tripod that gives stability to the telescope so we can see more clearly.

One way to develop concentration is with regularity of practice. One of the most important things is just practicing every day, day after day. Just as young children benefit from routine and repetition in learning, the mind benefits from regularity of practice.

Another way to develop concentration is going on meditation retreats. This allows us to step out of our lives so we can get a better perspective and perhaps better let go of the regular concerns that often entangle us. Retreats are a time to meditate frequently throughout the day and so get more settled than meditating once a day at home. It can be a great delight to have many of our preoccupations fall away. We can make an analogy of living on the Peninsula and not really being aware of the air quality, then one day, the air is crystal clear and we can see the Mt. Hamilton range across the bay. It is so refreshing to suddenly have that clarity. We didn’t realize what we were missing because we were so accustomed to the smoggy air. To be really present and not have the mind be murky, foggy or distracted is one of the great delights of life. This happens slowly over time if we practice everyday at home, but it happens quicker and deeper when we go on retreat.

If we’re new to meditation we don’t necessarily want to go on retreat right away, but to start doing a regular practice. If we meditate regularly at some point we will probably feel that we would like to do more and then we might consider a retreat. IMC offers many retreats throughout the year. At our Redwood City center we offer daylong retreats monthly. In addition, about six times a year we offer residential retreats that last from two days to two weeks in length at other locations in the Bay Area.


Mindfulness coupled with concentration helps with the unfolding of what Buddhism calls wisdom. Wisdom happens when we are present for our lives and see through our concepts, ideas or judgments and instead understand the bigger picture and context of what’s happening. Some of the concepts or judgments we use are innocent and appropriate enough. However, some concepts bring with them much suffering. Part of the function of mindfulness is to help us cut through all the concepts, interpretations, and “shoulds” so we can see more clearly. And the more clearly we see, the more choices we will discover for living a wise and satisfying life.

Another function of mindfulness is to reveal the difference between the stress of clinging and the peace of releasing that clinging. An important part of wisdom is then learning how to act with this knowledge so that we become more peaceful and more free.

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Saturday 14 February 2015

First steps into Buddhist meditation

First steps into Buddhist meditation

Sitting in meditationAwareness is the key. But what does the word mean to you? To most people, perhaps, it denotes an acknowledgement of that which is going on around them in a general sort of way. In the context of meditation, however, it means ‘waking up’, becoming acutely sensitive, knowing, feeling, living the moment in its pristine state, sensing colours and contours, sounds, textures, smells, recognising tendencies within oneself yet resisting the pull to be controlled by them — this is meditation, to begin with at least.
Life is a bit of a game really, isn’t it? We look forward to something and when it comes we criticise it, resent it, worry about it, want to change it, want to make it better.
Why do so many beings have to endure hunger and cold, heat, disease, cruelty, physical and mental abuse and deprivation, torture, injustice, and all the rest of it? Some have to go through a living hell, don’t they? And others suffer because there isn’t any cheese in the fridge.
The Buddha expressed what he experienced. ‘We suffer,’ he said, ‘from wanting what we do not already have.’ ‘Yes,’ you may say, ‘and what else?’ Well, nothing else. That seems to be it. The cause of all suffering is yearning, wanting, wishing, desiring. It doesn’t sound much of a reason. What about the husband? . .  the wife? . .  the job? . .  the weather? What about the pain in my arm?
You cannot change the past, arrange the future to suit yourself, or make other people say and do the things you want them to say and do. All of your power is contained within this moment, related to this particular body and mind. And this is a very powerful position to be in.
The Buddha sat alone, accompanied merely by his own deep honesty and awareness until the barriers to truth were shattered. Over the centuries all sorts of elaborate practices have been built onto this simple approach.
The Buddha didn’t really have a method other than awareness, and awareness is no method at all; it is a straightforward ‘opening of the eyes’, a kind of waking up as if from a dream. That is all! But that is everything.
Looking at a flower © BPGAnyone who wants to meditate can, but some have psychological needs which are not necessarily met by delving into the labyrinths of the mind unassisted. Do what is right for you.
If we think about what we see, hear, smell, taste and touch, instead of just seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching, we do not get the full flavour of the experience.
Try doing a job, any job, without thinking about the job itself or anything else besides. Simply stay with the body.
Stay with the process, the action in the body. Avoid functioning from inside the head. Allow the action to do itself very naturally in the body. That is experience without thought, beyond thought; it is undistorted and unadulterated experience; nothing has been added to the process, and nothing taken away.
All situations are immediately known for what they are without the aid of thought. In fact, thinking usually only confounds the mind.
Have a cup of tea © BPGThinking is, of course, part of life too, and in certain forms it is invaluable. Wisely reflecting, skilfully planning, contemplating — these are creative forms of thought; but this is not the kind of thinking I am talking about, and it is not the sort most of us engage in for most of the time.
Passing thoughts arise — that is natural, and they can bring us inspiration. But when one indulges in those passing thoughts, attaching to them, wallowing in them, getting caught up in them, they link up into a sort of chain of hopes, fears, doubts, anxieties, views and opinions.
‘Drink a cup of tea,’ as they say in Zen. Don’t think about drinking a cup of tea — just drink it. Taste it. Feel it. Enjoy it. That is experience beyond thought. How nice! How free!
We need a structure in order to begin, yes, and we need a timetable and a degree of discipline, most likely, but let us not misuse the props. And let us not count up the sitting hours as credits towards a degree in complete enlightenment to be awarded in later years, or in the next life.
Unless one’s motive for meditating is in order to wake up to reality in this moment, then it is doubtful if anything other than a sort of sleep, or negative mental state will come about as a result of it.
standing before a large clear mirror
Meditation is the great antidote to ignorance. It allows us to see ourselves plainly as we are, as if standing before a large clear mirror. Nothing is hidden.
If the movements of the body and mental processes are observedintelligently and with an open mind, one soon becomes aware of the mystery in life.
Awareness in everyday life
Be aware of:
emotional states,
mental and physical reactions.
Make an effort to remember to be aware.
Let the body be aware of itself.
Let things go — passing thoughts, opinions and emotional states.
Sitting meditation
Do not disturbFind a quiet place where you can be totally free of interruptions — a room, if possible, or a small corner of the house. Make it very clear to husband, wife, children or anyone else living in the house, ‘This is a time I am not to be disturbed. Questions, telephone messages and miscellaneous bits of information can wait until I’ve finished.’ Be very clear and firm, otherwise your meditation will be tense and anxious as you sit in wait for the door to open and a voice calling your name.
If the rest of the family think you are crazy, fine. Confirm their worst fears. Yes, you are ­crazy and you are very happy about that. You are about to embark on an exciting journey and do not wish to be cheated out of it by others’ opinions. And don’t feel guilty about taking the time for yourself. It’s funny how others can become rather jealous of the odd moment one wishes to spend alone. You may well be accused of being selfish, irresponsible in your consideration of others, and of wanting to escape reality. Don’t be put off!
You don’t have to be alone, of course, if someone wants to meditate with you, or if you want to meditate in a group, go ahead.
Now a sitting posture is to be adopted. There are several to choose from. Find the one which is most suitable for you.
A certain amount of experimentation may be needed in order to find the right position, one which can be held without too much difficulty for about twenty minutes. You may, of course, want to practise a posture at other times, one which you would like to be able to adopt, but cannot manage at the moment.
Hands and eyes
Open your eyes enough to be looking down at the floor a foot or so in front of you, without focusing on anything.
Hands in meditation
The hands can be held palms upwards, one on top of the other, loosely in the lap.
It is important to decide beforehand how long a session is to last, otherwise you will be thinking about it all the while and wondering, ‘Shall I stop now?’
Ten minutes is probably enough initially and can be increased to fifteen or twenty after a few days or weeks.
At the end of some weeks of regular sitting, thirty minutes would probably be more appropriate. Following on from that, forty-five or sixty minutes may be a possibility. Practised meditators tend not to sit for more than this length of time in any one sitting. You must judge for yourself what feels right.
The duration of the sitting is no mark of progress; it is the quality of each moment which is important.
If the sitting becomes an endurance test, therefore, it has lost its value and you will be ­wasting your time, or worse, you will be putting yourself off meditation altogether. Better to sit for a shorter period with enthusiasm and energy than to drag yourself through an hour faking it.
When is the best time of day to meditate? Some say first thing in the morning, others say last thing at night. You must find out for yourself. The deciding factor may not be the state of your mind, but a busy schedule, or the busy life of your family. The best time may, therefore, be in the middle of the afternoon when everyone is out, or at dawn when they are all still sleeping and the air is clear, or at ten o’clock at night when the kids are in bed and silence reigns.
Sitting You may like to sit more than once a day. Many people sit twice.
Meditate when you can, when the time is right.
You have found a suitable place in which to meditate, and you have sorted out a nice posture in which to sit. The back is straight. The eyes are half closed. The hands are resting loosely one on top of the other, palms upward, in the lap. The physical side of things is all set. But what is happening in the mind? Is it calm and peaceful? Is it full of expectation? Is it ­chattering away to itself — imagining, wondering, ­worrying, planning?
Counting Breaths
Breathe in and count silently to yourself ‘one’. Breathe out and count ‘one’ again. You have now counted one complete breath. On the following inhalation count ‘two’, and ‘two’ on the exhalation. Continue counting for ten full breaths. Then start again at ‘one’. There may be some difficulty in retaining full concentration for the time it takes to breathe ten full breaths. The mind will probably wander. If it doesn’t, I would be very surprised!
If and when the mind wanders, therefore, and the count is lost, simply begin again at ‘one’. Should the counting become mechanical, again, go back to ‘one’. Another possibility is that you find yourself counting mindlessly beyond ten, and this will be a further indication of loss of concentration. Go back to the beginning again and again. You may find you can hardly reach ‘two’ before your concentration goes. It doesn’t matter. Reaching ‘ten’ is not the object of the exercise. Trying to do it is the purpose. And in that effort much will be revealed and realised.
Please don’t become frustrated or depressed on account of this inability to control the mind. You are seeing how the mind works. You are discovering how you work. That is why you are meditating. Be interested in what you are doing and what you discover about yourself.
Forgive yourself if you find your concentration is poor, and continue to make the effort. Make the effort, but without force; try to do it in a gentle way; gently bring the mind back to the exercise time and time again. Be patient with yourself. Let yourself be what you are, and try to stay with the counting.
There are many variations on concentrating on the breathing process, but I will list just three. Only one of them is to be used — it doesn’t matter which. They are all of equal value so there is no question of progressing from one to the other. Yet you may wish to try them all out as time goes by in order to see which fits the best. Finally, however, decide on one and stick to that.
  1. Concentrating on the length of breaths ­taken. Is it a long, deep breath? Is it a short breath? Or is it neither long nor short?
  2. Concentrating on the warm and cool sensations in the nostrils as the air flows through while breathing in (cool) and breathing out (warm).
  3. Concentrating on the rise and fall of the abdomen (approximately three finger-widths below the navel) while breathing in (rising) and breathing out (falling).
The breathing is a continuous process while one is alive and for that reason a very convenient subject on which to meditate.
Sitting in Buddhist meditationAs the counting takes place to the rhythm of the breath, the mind will be calm and clear, if only for a little while. That moment or two of clarity will be enough to reveal the value of concentration. Worrying, hoping, dreaming and wishing cannot occupy a space already filled with the counting of breaths. This is a simple revelation which has a deep significance, to be contemplated and fully realised. Just by concentrating in this uncomplicated way, one can come away from, or dissolve, a negative mind state, even if it is only for a moment.
Meditation is a way of facing deep and real issues and of experiencing their transformation into something positive and creative.
After a while, a degree of concentration and calmness will begin to manifest itself and develop. It is impossible to say how long this will take. For some it may be almost immediate; for others it may take weeks or months, or creep upon them imperceptibly over a longer period of time.
When the time is right, the exercise can be dispensed with. But you must be honest with yourself. Is it time to leave this exercise? Has it served its purpose? There is no point in waiting for perfection! You may never count ten breaths without faltering. It is enough to establish just some concentration, and to experience just some degree of clarity and calmness. If you wait for perfection — an uninterrupted flow of ten counts over and over again for twenty minutes or so — you may wait for a very long time! Move on when you genuinely feel it is time. Experiment if you like; you can always return to this exercise again in the future if you feel you need to. It is all a question of finding that balance between moving too fast and not moving at all.
Be aware of the breathing and be aware of whatever else passes by — a sense, a feeling, a thought, a smell, a sound. Let the mind open. Observe, but not as someone watching. Try not to become involved in thoughts. Let them fulfil their function and then let them pass on, otherwise you will not be free.
Nonattachment to all sensations — pleasant or unpleasant — is the route to happiness.
Good luck.
Experience Beyond Thinking: Practical Guide to Buddhist Meditation
The above has been extracted from Experience Beyond Thinking A Practical Guide to Buddhist Meditation. by Diana St Ruth
Read other posts by Diana here.

IFN: Interfaith Resources and Guidance

Interfaith Resources and Guidance

NHS Scotland : A Multi-Faith Resource for Healthcare Staff

NHS Scotland : A Multi-Faith Resource for Healthcare Staff

Multi-Faith Resource for Healthcare Staff NHS Education for Scotland (NES) produced this booklet through its Healthcare Chaplaincy Training and Development Unit. It was prepared with the guidance of the Spiritual Care Development Committee, a multi-faith group which represents the main faith and belief groups in Scotland and also includes representatives from chaplaincy, the health service and the Scottish Executive Health Department. The group is a forum for discussing ideas and issues concerning spiritual and religious care within NHS Scotland.

 Baha’i Faith
Brahma Kumaris
Church of the Latter-day Saints (Mormon)
Jehovah’s Witnesses
Mental Health: a note
Web sites
Online at
Large-print versions are available from
Healthcare Chaplaincy Training and Development NHS Education for Scotland, 2 Central Quay, 89 Hydepark Street, Glasgow G3 8BW

Tuesday 10 February 2015

Why we can be certain that God doesn’t exist

A couple of months ago I wrote a rebuttal of Paul Williams’ critique of Buddhism. That got me thinking about theology a little; always bearing in mind the Hindu saying that one who loves God will get enlightened in seven lifetimes, but one who hates God will get enlightened in three!

Debate Religion - Was Buddha a Hindu or not?

Debate Religion - Was Buddha a Hindu or not?

Published on Feb 9, 2015
by Bhante Sujato

Debate Religion - Was Buddha a Hindu or not?

Buddhism Documentary - Representing the Buddha Bhante Anandajoti

Buddhism Documentary - Representing the Buddha Bhante Anandajoti

Published on Feb 9, 2015
Buddhism Documentary - Representing the Buddha Bhante Anandajoti 

Monday 9 February 2015

Making Our Way: On Women and Buddhism

Making Our Way: On Women and Buddhism

Women in Buddhism Buddhadharma Christina Feldman Grace Scierson Lama Palden Drolma Rita GrossPhotos: Jesse A. Jiryu Davis

Grace Schireson, Christina Feldman, Rita Gross, and Lama Palden Drolma discuss how women are defining new roles as Buddhist leaders, teachers, and practitioners.

Introduction by Sandy Boucher
When I think of women and Buddhism, I see before me the faces of our Western Buddhist female pioneers. In the relatively easier situation we enjoy today, with the proliferation of powerful women teachers and spokespeople, I wonder if we will forget these early women who placed the foundational stones on our path.