Let's get in between stimulus and response.

Category: Spirituality

Ep14. The Benefits of Contemplating Death|Future Perfect

Why would anyone in the right mind want to contemplate death every day? Well living in the U.S with the ever-present mass shootings, death seems more poignant and closer. Contemplating death is a practice coming from Theravada Buddhism. When we put death front and center, it might help us to understand what truly matters for us and what activities make us feel most alive.

This episode introduced many practices. I summarized a few that is applicable for me:

Recite 5 remembrances every day, even visualizing them. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upajjhatthana_Sutta

I am subject to aging, have not gone beyond aging. I am subject to illness, have not gone beyond illness. I am subject to death, have not gone beyond death. I will grow different, separate from all that is dear and appealing to me. I am the owner of my actions, heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir.

Meditating on this can be my last in-breath, this can be my last outbreath.

Go beyond the silliness it might initially provoke, go beyond the panic ego will unleash, meditate on this for 20-30 minutes.

In the morning say to yourself: this could be my last day.

Putting death front and center makes us appreciate and make the best out of each day.

Then this episode briefly discussed how to deal with the fear of disease. Focus on the present and the present, this in-breath is just fine. Fear and worry are future-oriented.

Ep4. Muslim mystics on the power of pain|Future Perfect

What would Rumi do during the pandemic? Maybe this is no dichotomy thinking here. Maybe he would pray, wear a mask, stand with people who are suffering, and more.

Maybe Western individualism vs identifying with a collective is also a false dichotomy. After all the American constitution started with ‘we, the people’ and it stated ‘we, the people, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice.’ Justice was never individual, but it is about society.

Justice and love are not two unrelated ideas. “it’s helpful to think of this love as an oceanic wave that pours through you, and when it pours out of your heart, out into the public square, we recognize it as justice.” Needless to say, my mind was blown after hearing this quote. Love flows from God/Source to us into the public square, that is justice. Love here also includes speaking up and willing to criticize when you see something that is injust.

How do we break open our hearts instead of just breaking our hearts? Maybe seeing beyond our finite ego would help. Recognizing we are one life and realizing our suffering are shared. That makes us feel less alone.

How do we enjoy more of our solitude instead of running away from alone time? In Sufism, there is khalwa and jalwa: retreating into yourself and going back out into society. “You would go inside to be alone with the One, and then you would come back and bring the fruits of that into society.” You look inward to see if your soul needs to be recharged. It does not matter what activity charges your soul as long as you return to it again and again until it becomes a practice. Retreating is not an end goal in itself. Then you go out into the world to share the fruits with everyone else.

How do we understand death? Maybe we are all water from the same ocean. The underlying existence never changes, but water can change into different forms. Our loved ones who passed away might become a mist that surrounds us at all times.


Ep.1 – On Buddhism and Blackness|Future Perfect

This episode is 60-minute of golden nuggets for me. The host is incredibly informative and asks insightful questions and Valerie Brown’s voice embodies mindfulness. Together they soothe me and give me more understanding and hope. This episode talks about many important topics:

1. How can we not be consumed by anger while fighting for the world we want to see?

Fighting non-violently and peacefully for a world that everyone can belong to, that has justice, freedom, and liberation.

Dr. King said, “Never succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter. As you press for justice, be sure to move with dignity and discipline, using only the instruments of love.”

Anger is a fiery emotion and has its lure. The first thing we can do is to be aware that emotions are activated. Then we calm ourselves through breathing. With the pause, we ask ourselves ‘Am I sure’. We bear witness for others. Remember if someone is being unkind they’re probably suffering a lot. The north star is to water the seed of love instead of the seed of anger and to play in a bigger space, not letting bitterness restricting our heart

2. Valerie Brown’s own journey from lawyer to Buddhism

Now Valerie does her work from a place of softening and peace. Even with people on the opposite end of the political spectrum, she first whispers soften to herself, changes from the persuading mode to the genuinely interested mode: “Tell me more. Help me understand. How are you doing, really?” The interpersonal mindfulness shared at that moment is peace.

3. What is Engaged Buddhism and how Buddhism can help us today facing the pandemic and social movements?

Thich Nhat Hanh coined the term ‘Engaged Buddhism’. He chose to participate in non-violent actions that can increase the wellbeings of all instead of only praying in the monastery.

Buddhism teaches us about interbeing. We are all connected. When one of us gets justice and peace, we all benefit.

4. The friendship between Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Martin Luther King

This friendship is largely credited to shape Dr. King’s anti-Vietnam War stand. Dr. King said ‘I’m against segregation at lunch counters, and I’m not going to segregate my moral concerns’ while facing pushback on this issue.

5. How can we possibly understand suffering contains the seed of joy in the face of the pandemic?

“I am committed to looking tenderly at my suffering, knowing that I am not separate from others and that the seeds of suffering contain the seeds of joy.”

We suffer when we lost a loved one because we love them so deeply. After all, the suffering shows that person’s life is meaningful and valuable.

Full Transcript:https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2020/7/2/21310378/buddhist-mindfulness-meditation-black-activism-future-perfect

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