Tag Archives: buddhist carnival

november 2009 buddhist carnival

middle of the month: it’s buddhist carnival time! being all busy with NaNoWriMo, this is a quickie version – a little taste from the blogosphere, a buddhist smorgasbrod:

a zen tale from secret forest

the disciple threw stones in the water all day long. the next day, the master told him:
“do throw a stone in the water.
“why, that’s absurd! i won’t do that.
the air stood still like the surface of the lake.
“what have you learned today? ” asked the master.
“that i don’t have to do everything you tell me to do.
the neutral light unveiled a matte reflection of the leafs of the medlar tree.
“it’s a lot more than you learned yesterday.

***

we all tried so hard. and it didn’t seem we wound up any more loving or enlightened, just uptight. i remember how we disapproved of those who’d given up their vows, stopped being monks. “he disrobed!” people would say in a voice hushed and aghast, as if the guy had been waggling his private parts in a schoolyard.

that’s part of a very interesting entry by guttersnipe das about wrestling with spirituality.

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dharmafied offers a video of the compassion mudra.

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learning from a cat: from on the training floor

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idra’s net = internet? need i say more?

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zen and the art of playing pool from my twitter friend, barking unicorn

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what happens when you get impacted by no impact man:

do you know this expression, “i’m teaching my grandmother to suck eggs?” it’s a british expression. you know like when you don’t have any teeth and you’re like that (mimics gumming food) it’s like sucking eggs. so if you teach your grandmother to suck eggs, you’re teaching your grandmother to do something she already knows how to do? so when i say this to you, you already know this…

there’s no antagonism between living happily and living environmentally.

***

and finally, a bit of blasphemy from mind on fire.

image by heiwa

june 2009 buddhist carnival

kuan yin in the grassfor those of you who are not familiar with this blog, every 15th of the month i post a collection of posts about buddhist topics.  it all started as a contribution to blog carnival in november 2007.  over time, i emancipated myself from blog carnival but the name remains.  blog carnivals are themed “readers digests” of the blogosphere.

so – what do we have today?

a poem – wu!

first link, as always, a poem.  this is from an article on philip whalen’s poetry at the poetry foundation.  here’s a little teaser

unless i ask i am not alive
until i find out who is asking
i am only half alive and there is only

wu!
(an ingrown toenail?)

growing up buddhist

jaimal, author of saltwater buddha, a book that looks at the spiritual side of surfing, had an interesting article in the buddhist magazine tricycle a while ago about growing up in a hippie family

my rebellion was characterized by a nuanced differentiation strategy of the karl rove variety: i framed my parents as flaky new age hippies with buddhist leanings-the spirit rock type. i sneered at my mom’s angel books and my dad’s yoga guru, who changed his name every few months. meanwhile, i would break free of their fluffiness and be the real deal. i would become a northern california buddhist without a trace of hippiness, an endeavor that i now realize could be compared to living in france and shunning cheese.

the full article is here.

decency is the absence of strategy

william harryman, who has contributed much to this carnival, had an interesting little tidbit on his friendfeed the other day from chögyam trungpa rinpoche:

it is of utmost importance to realize that the warrior’s approach should be simple-minded sometimes, very simple and straightforward. that makes it very beautiful: you having nothing up your sleeve; therefore a sense of genuineness comes through. that is decency.

gay men, straight women, non-duality and kuan yin

here is a reference to some research that points out the similarity between certain functions  in the brains of gay men and straight women.  the author then makes a noteworthy connection between this finding and androgyny in buddhism:

one of the most revered figures in buddhism, avalokiteshvara is often seen as androgynous. in the form of avalokiteshvara this bodhisattva is seen as a man but when referred to as guan yin (kuan yin/kannon) he/she is seen as a woman. this makes total sense to me as avalokiteshvara/guan yin is seen as the bodhisattva of compassion and thus seems perfectly natural as that compassion is spread to all beings equally regardless of gender and sexual orientation.

avalokiteshvara/kuan yin is literally the embodiment of non-duality in regards to sexuality.

the rest of this article is here, on the buddhist blog.

dr. monster and buddhism as a religion

an interesting article at god knows what on the history behind the religious aspects of japanese buddhism today, as describedin this excerpt:

the day-to-day life of buddhist priests of all sects was filled with the performance of exorcisms, funerals, distributing healing charms, and spells for rain. many of these rituals were for intended for apotropiac purposes, banishing monsters, limiting their negative effects, or transforming the curses of ancestors and kami into blessings.

(what might surprise people is that with the removal of certain rituals like ‘spells for rain’ this description still largely applies to the day-to-day life of buddhist priests and monks in most buddhist countries, including japan.)

western, eastern and psychiatric buddhism

buddhism.about.com brings up a number of worthwhile points in response to our own douglas todd, religion writer at the vancouver sun:

douglas todd of the vancouver sun (see also “we’re cool!“) has another interesting commentary, this time on buddhism and psychiatry. he notes that for the past several years all manner of prominent buddhists and prominent psychiatrists and psychologists have been coming up with buddhist-related practices to promote good mental health hygiene.

todd makes two points. one, he says, the psychotherapists don’t acknowledge that “ideals such as compassion, respecting human dignity, overcoming negative emotions and practicing awareness” are also found in judaism, christianity and islam. “practicing loving kindness, for instance, is the central teaching of jesus and the church.”

generosity

genkaku is one of my favourite buddhist writers; my husband and i have been following him for years.  his words are always light and full of common sense.  here he talks about generosity:

in buddhism, there is a suggestion that its followers engage in “dana” or giving/generosity. on the face of it, it sounds very much like dropping a buck in the christian plate during sunday services. and there’s nothing wrong with that either — donating to monks or nuns or beggars or institutions that uphold a convincing direction or faith.

but today i wonder if the most profound act of generosity does not lie in this: to offer yourself as best you can.

it’s a little tricky, since in order to offer yourself, you would first have to know who you were.

always maintain a joyful mind

linda lewis offers the lojong slogan: always maintain a joyfulmind and reflects:

when we are sick or in debt or experiencing loss or difficulties, we know from experience that neither complaining nor blaming helps.  we know that despair only solidifies the problem.  that is why sakyong mipham rinpoche advises us “to practice more when we have difficulties, and to practice more when we have life changes.”

then, rather than emoting and over-loading others with our latest greatest drama, we face the music, and are better able to deal with our troubles.  as mipham rinpoche also says, “some problems can be solved by talking…but some things are solved by not talking. that’s called practice.”

meditation practice

c4chaos explains his algorithmic approach to meditation:

step 1: focus out – i focus on the sensations of the breath. i note the sensation of the “rising” and “falling” of the abdomen. when attention wanders i note it and then gently go back to noting the sensation of the rising and falling. sooner or later awareness shifts or deepens.

if i feel a sense of deep relaxation, i proceed to step 2.

if i feel a sense of vibrations or waves, i proceed to step 3.

step 2: focus on rest – i focus on the restful sensations of the body and note it as “relaxed.” i then place some attention on the darkness/brightness in front of my closed eyes and note it as “blank.” i alternate between noting “relaxed” and “blank.” then i let go… sooner or later awareness shifts or deepens.

if concentration is poor and keeps wavering, i go back to step 1.

if i feel a sense of vibrations or waves, i proceed to step 3.

step 3: focus on change – i focus on the vibratory/wave sensations. i note it as “flow”, “expansion”, “contraction”, and “gone.” from here i just let go, ride out and surrender to the vibratory sensations while noting it as best as i can.  sooner or later awareness shifts and the vibratory sensations disappear.

if concentration is poor and keeps wavering, i go back to step 1.

if i feel a sense of deep relaxation, i proceed to step 2.

that’s it. simple as pie

that’s it for this month.  see you back on july 15!

image by mags

buddhist carnival, may 2009 – the mixed-bag-it’s-all-connected edition

may 15 – time for another buddhist carnival. if you want to see previous buddhist carnivals, go here.

today there is no topic, really, just a criss-cross romp through the buddhasphere.

another enlightenment machine
… like the one you see depicted to the right. here are some explanations

i have made an exciting new “thought to textâ„¢” technological breakthrough that has enabled me to record my actual thoughts and non-thoughts. Today I unveil to the world for the first time a transcript of one of my deep meditation sessions.

[CAUTION: this thought to textâ„¢ transcript is uncensored. if you are squeamish about the human condition, please click away now.]

START : thought to textâ„¢ TRANSMISSION:

ok, here i am meditating. i’m so pumped up for this session!!!1! i just know i’m gonna break on through to the other side this time. i got a feeling enlightenment is going to be cool, enlightened dudes get all the hot babes. i know somehow, someway this meditation is going to lead to more money for me. everybody in abundance-land doesn’t care about money because i know they have a hidden stash somewhere. there is probably a secret enlightened ATM cash machine with lots of clouds around it and a rainbow over the top of it. i can’t wait until a wise old voice sends me my PIN number in the mail.

excited?  me, too.  see what monkmojo is up to.

poem
usually we start with a poem; this time i had to get monkmojo out of the way first. but here’s the poem – an excerpt from one of my twitter friend dirk johnson’s poetry notebook

i offer you a cool and gentle breeze
on a sultry day.

i offer you the toxic spill
in a stream by an apartment building.

i offer you refineries burning
off waste gas in a miasma of stench.

i offer you the hiss of wind in grass,
thunder, and heavy rain.

whet your appetite? here it is in all its glory.

kant and buddha
if philosophy is your bag, you’ll enjoy this:

ironically, this treatment of kant is much like the western reception of buddhism, in which it has been branded as nihilistic, romantic, mystical, atheistic, and so on. as with kant, the enormous corpus of buddhist writings makes it easy to cherry-pick those that agree with our temperaments or prejudices (either favorably or unfavorably). i cannot claim a comprehensive knowledge of either, but i can say that my experience of both has taught me to be extremely suspicious of “extreme” interpretations of either.

the rest is here.

fear and the economy
dharmabrother takes the difficulties with the economy with serenity:

i refuse to be afraid of losing my job, even in this economy, because that fear is poisonous and inhibits the practice. good workers get laid off for a variety of reasons, even outright fired because they suddenly do not match the goals of the organization.

don’t know
“don’t know”, says the good blogger at ox herding, “forms the core of buddhism”

one time, zen master seung sahn said:

i don’t teach korean or mahayana or zen. i don’t even teach buddhism. i only teach don’t know. fifty years here and there teaching only don’t know. so only don’t know, okay?

nothing happens
“don’t know” and “nothing happens” are cousins. i was interested to come across this blog, aging as a spiritual practice:

nothing happens when you die: two contemporary buddhist masters ” suzuki roshi and the 16th karmapa ” both said this. when the karmapa was dying ” according to people who were there ” he opened his eyes and said, “nothing happens.”

and in suzuki roshi’s book not always so he says, “don’t worry about dying. nothing is going to happen.”

well. this is the kind of out-there statement that skeptics of buddhism point to as a way of discrediting it.

this brings me back again to the post earlier about kant and buddhism. everything is connected.

listen!

what am i to do in the face of another person’s suffering? how can i best live my vow? the thing i’m called to practice is “deep listening.” to put aside my own concerns about “what to do” and instead give my full attention to what’s in front of me. and to listen within, to notice how my own suffering gets aroused by hearing the other’s story. that is what’s meant by mindfulness: to witness what arises inside and outside of ourselves from moment to moment, in thoughts, feelings, and sensations.

more here. again, i see connections; to the deep “nothing” that is so important in buddhism – and to my post a few days ago about peaceful communication where ian peatey pointed so wisely to listening (and silence) as a good communication tool (which again reminds me of my post on improving on silence – it just goes round and round, doesn’t it?)

pain
and finally, before we close this with a nod to my friend william, here’s a fellow canadian therapist i discovered the other day, who posted on research about zen meditation and pain relief

grant and rainville noticed a marked difference in how their two test groups reacted to pain testing – zen meditators had much lower pain sensitivity (even without meditating) compared to non-meditators. during the meditation-like conditions it appeared meditators further reduced their pain partly through slower breathing: 12 breaths per minute versus an average of 15 breaths for non-meditators.

four noble truths, street version
and here comes william

1. the nature of shit is that it stinks
2. we stink because we have smeared ourselves with shit
3. we can be free of the stink and the shit
4. a dude laid out 8 steps to free ourselves from shit

next buddhist carnival is june 15th. send me your ssss…tuff.

buddhist carnival: april 2009, poetry month

chaos in kanjithe 15th, buddhist carnival time. it’s april, poetry month, so i’ll post only poems and poetry-related articles.

from last month’s montreal zen poetry festival

i longed to visit the eastern cliff
countless years until today
i finally grabbed a vine and climbed
but halfway there met mist and wind
the trail was too narrow for clothes
the moss too slick for shoes
i stopped beneath this cinnamon tree
and slept with a cloud for a pillow

— han shan (translated by red pine)

if you have time …

from danny fisher’s blog

if you have time to chatter
read books
if you have time to read
walk into mountain, desert and ocean
if you have time to walk
sing songs and dance
if you have time to dance
sit quietly, you happy lucky idiot

— nanao sakai

the role of poetry in zen and meditation

zen mirror has an interview with zen master sÅ­ngsan about the role poetry plays in meditation practice as well as in teaching and conveying zen mind to the western world.

dc: thank you very much for all your wonderful gifts! that’s a very good answer. i was wondering about when you compose a poem, do you actually reflect on the situation and then write using “beautiful language?”

zmss: no. only whatever situation comes up or appears, then i will compose a poem. not so much checking situations, and not so much making something.

go here for the restof the interview.

haiku
buddhism.about.com posted a nice piece about haiku, with a few good examples, for instance

from the nostril
of the great buddha
comes a swallow

haiku database
and while we’re on the topic of haiku, i found this treasure of haiku related info – for example a whole section on the “season words” that are an important part of traditional haiku, or a whole section on the moon in haiku, this one, for example

calligraphy of geese
against the sky —
the moon seals it.

(not directly buddhist perhaps, but i just had to tell you about this great find!)

breaking haiku rules

on dragoncave, some musings on haiku rules. here is a haiku by issa, one of his best-known buddhist pieces:

this world of dew
is just a world of dew”
and yet . . . oh and yet . . .

inmensity taps at your life
poetry chaikhana is a blog about spiritual poetry from all over the world. here is a poem by jane hirshfield, who is described as a secular or eclectic buddhist

tree

it is foolish
to let a young redwood
grow next to a house.
even in this
one lifetime,
you will have to choose.
that great calm being,
this clutter of soup pots and books –
already the first branch-tips brush at the window.
softly, calmly, immensity taps at your life.

i noticed …

and finally, allan ginsberg’s beautiful poem on the cremation of chögyam trungpa

i noticed the grass, i noticed the hills, i noticed the highways,
i noticed the dirt road; i noticed the car rows in the parking lot
i noticed the ticket takers, noticed the cash and the checks and credit cards,
i noticed the buses, noticed mourners, i noticed their children in red dresses,
i noticed the entrance sign, noticed retreat houses, noticed blue and yellow flags
noticed the devotees, their trucks and buses, guards in khaki uniforms,
i noticed the crowds, noticed misty skies, noticed the all -pervading smiles and empty eyes –
i noticed the pillows, coloured red and yellow, square pillows round and round –
i noticed the tori gate, passers-through bowing, a parade of men & women in formal dress –
noticed the procession, noticed the bagpipe, drums, horns, noticed high silk head crowns and saffron robes, noticed the three piece suits,
i noticed the palanquin, an umbrella, the stupa painted with jewels the colours of the four directions –
amber for generosity, green for karmic works, i noticed the white for buddha, red for the heart –
thirteen worlds on the stupa hat, noticed the bell handle and umbrella, the empty head of the white cement bell – noticed the corpse to be set in the head of the bell –
noticed the monks chanting, horn plaint in our ears, smoke rising from astep the firebrick empty bells –
noticed the crowds quiet, noticed the chilean poet, noticed a rainbow,
i noticed the guru was dead —

go here for the rest.

have a buddhist blog?  want to be featured here next month?  drop me a line.

the calligraphy here spells “chaos” and was done by ~C4Chaos

march 2009 buddhist carnival – in reverse

roses are blooming on the rosebush.
there is nothing strange.
the flower blooms silently and falls quietly without sound,
never again to return to its branch.
her total existence is expressed in that one moment.
one place on the branch.
that is the voice of the flower,
the truth of the single flower on the branch.
therein lies the joy of life, infinitely brilliant and everlasting.

a single rosethis poem appears more than once in sensei ogui’s zen shin talks, a book that i have been slowly savouring over the last seven weeks.

for the buddhist carnival today, rather than featuring posts from various buddhists writers, i want to start with a story from the book. it is a story about sensei ogui, who is a buddhist minister in the shin or pure land tradition, going to visit a dying man.

when i walked into the hospital room of the dying man, i heard family members crying. the man dying was an issei pioneer, a first generation japanese american. his son said, “papa, priest is here.”

with his whole strength the dying man extended his hand to shake my hand. i shook his extended hand. he said, “thank you very much for all kinds of things.”

i kept quiet. i couldn’t find any adequate words to describe my feelings. i shook his hand tightly.

the son with tears in his eyes said, “papa, i shall see you again the pure land [which could be roughly translated as the shin buddhist term for heaven]. i learned this in sunday school.”

i was quiet.

the dying man began talking with all his strength. “say, my son, do i have to go to some other place to meet you again? i have already met you and i’m meeting with you in nembutsu. na man da bu. na man da bu.”

[“nembutsu” is short for “namu amida butsu”.  “namu” refers to “refuge”, and amida buddha (“butsu”) is the buddha of infinite life and light. infinite life manifests as infinite compassion and infinite light manifests as infinite wisdom. the chant “na man da bu” is the sound of oneness with amida buddha.]

at the end of this chapter, sensei ogui turns this into a question to ponder over for a lifetime – he calls it lifetime homework.

do i have to go to some other place to meet you again? i have already met you and i’m meeting with you in nembutsu. na man da bu. na man da bu.

what is this?

i am so intrigued by this question, and i do want to spend some time mulling this over, tasting the question, sleeping on it, dreaming about it …

perhaps it means …

we are already where we need to be. this is it. no striving, no “tomorrow i will …”, no “what if yesterday … “. we are all connected in light, compassion and wisdom.

or perhaps it means … what are your thoughts?

so for buddhist carnival today, i want to ask some bloggers this question. and since i’ve dedicated my blog posts in the last little while to the topic of eating disorders, i’ll ask both buddhist bloggers and those who blog about eating disorders.

do i have to go to some other place to meet you again? i have already met you and i’m meeting with you in nembutsu. na man da bu. na man da bu.

what is this?

i am inviting all of you to reflect on this, among others, these people:

the conservative buddhist.blogspot.com
american buddhist
woodmoorvillage
a buddhist catholic
the f-word
anmol mehta
urban monk
joanna poppink
12-step buddhist
daily buddhism
operation lola
eating with your anorexic
dano macnamarrah
ED bites
angel
eating disorders foundation

image from jepoirrier’s photostream

february buddhist carnival – on mental health (part 2)

this is part 2 of this month’s buddhist carnival. part 1 is here.

the wild mind and the wise body

i like this article by the wild moods that takes the actual here-and-now feelings and sensations of mental illness and uses them to get in touch with mental health

… take a second to think about how the wild moods sign themselves on your body. glurky stomach? acid stomach? headache? flushing heat in the chest? but it may actually take some concentrated focusing to see what the body is doing when depressed or anxious, because we can get so used to experiencing these signatures as depression and anxiety that we are not really aware of them as distinct and repeating physical sensations.

so why is this important, to become aware of these sensations? because when we are able to be aware of the sensations as physical events, then there is the opportunity to break the cycling whirlpool of mood, where negative thought causes unpleasant sensation, which generates another negative thought, reinforcing another negative sensation, and around and around, deeper and deeper.

the empty bowl

joanna poppink is a counsellor who helps people with eating disorders. she offers the buddhist ritual of the empty bowl as an active meditation tool, inspired by a thanksgiving post about how people struggling with eating disorders might get as well as give benefits by helping to provide food for hungry people. joanna poppink suggests entertaining an “unseen guest with an empty bowl” as if they were sitting at your table with you.

the idea is to make an extra place setting with an empty bowl at your eating place. before you eat, look at the empty bowl. pray or meditate or think about or send kind thoughts to people who face this empty bowl every day.

put money, as you can, small even tiny amounts are okay, in the empty bowl in appreciation for what food you have available today.

i propose that this is useful for anyone, with any problem. for example, when i went through my last fear-of-flying adventure (something yet to blog about), what helped me the most was imagining that i was connected to other people who were in pain as well, and imagining sharing with them whatever small goodness came my way (e.g. a drink of water, putting on warm socks). this is, by the way, also a 12-step principle. the suggestion there is that one of the best ways of dealing with the affliction of addiction is to help others with the same problem.

speaking of which …

buddhism and addiction

darren’s blog is about the intersection of buddhism and the 12 steps. here he talks about attachment and realization:

for us [addicts], teachings on attachment are a no brainer. tell us we’re attached to our betting, babes, booze or benzos and we’ll give you an eyebrow raise and an, “and your point is?”

… this process, looking at the condition of our minds, returning to the present moment, noticing our attachment, is kind of like digestion. the teacher echoed my thoughts in saying that zen practice is like adding the right enzymes. as we engage in observing, not reacting and being present to our lives, we become more familiar with what we really are underneath all the concepts, grasping, attachment and addiction. we take a bite of zen, digest samsara and shit out realization. clean like a whistle.

more addiction: hoarding

one city has a lovely entry on extending good wishes to a neighbour whose life is burdened by hoarding, an addiction perhaps, or an obsessive-compulsive behaviour (i tend to see a lot of connections between the two)

the real fruits of my internet search for information about compulsive hoarding turned into an extension of my meditation practice in cultivating compassion for someone i don’t even really know. i can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to live as a hoarder, but i can imagine the suffering and the courage that it takes to start the real, hard work on improving your life; sorting through things, throwing things away, decided what is worth keeping, how do you start over? and having to think about all the things that led up to the hoarding that could have been a trigger or a lingering cause. i think it really does take courage.

i would like to close this blog post by sending along some metta (e-metta?) to my neighbour across the way.

may she be healthy, may she have happiness.

stigma

finally, a post on stigma. echo pen touches on an aspect of stigma that, i believe, is not talked about enough – self stigma. i believe that one of the best ways to deal with mental health stigma in the world “out there” is to strengthen our own feelings towards our mental health. if i believe that i am deficient, it will usually come through in my communication with others. when i believe in my own strength and worthiness, i can deal with societal stigma from a place of strength.

recently, while meditating, irrational thoughts and memories of the stigmas issues i’ve dealt with [came up]. i have experientially recognized them as irrational self judging and self defeating. when these thoughts come during zazen… i explore them including feelings of apprehension, worry, guilt, resentment…the bodily feelings of anxiety… all in the context of the here and now..become aware of them accept them and then i let them go, and continue sitting with clarity and peace.

that’s it for this month’s buddhist carnival.  if you have any submissions for next month’s carnival (march 15, 2009), please send them to me here, or, if you have a hard time connecting to blog carnival, drop me a line.

february buddhist carnival – on mental health

a laughing buddhist nunfor this month’s buddhist carnival, i’d like to focus on buddhist approaches to mental health issues. this is partly in preparation for coping digitally, a panel discussion about mental illness and social media that i’ll be part of at this year’s northern voice blogging conference here in vancouver this coming friday and saturday (february 20 and 21). airdrie came up with this fabulous idea; the other person who will participate is tod maffin. i’ll be talking more about this conference tomorrow.

we always start this carnival with a poem. today i’ll open it with one of my haiku:

feeling rising when
i see the kitchen: messy.
oh, hello anger!

and here are the blog entries. i’ll present them in two parts; overwhelming people with information is not the buddhist way …

meditation and medication

the buddhist blog talks about the need for both meditation and medication.

as many of you know i have been living with schizoaffective disorder for most of my life and have found great refuge, relief of symptoms and calm from buddhism and meditation in particular … i notice that the more i meditate the easier it is to deal with my condition. yet meditation alone isn’t enough in my situation because despite meditating i still am debilitated by disabling symptoms such as paranoia, hallucinations, delusions (psychiatric delusions such as being convinced that you are the most horrible person on earth), mood swings and chronic depression. thus i have found medications help fill the void and basically keep me alive because my depressive episodes easily lead to suicidal thoughts.

buddhism and borderline disorder

the american buddhist muses on how buddhist approaches may be helpful for people with borderline personality disorder. he goes through the dsm-iv criteria for this condition and suggests the use of specific buddhist concepts for each of them. it’s a bit simplistic – as a counsellor, i certainly wouldn’t suggest to a person battling with a fear of abandonment to meditate on impermanence right off the bat – but the ideas are nevertheless interesting. for example

the problem of splitting, or seeing others in the extremes of idealization and devaluation (as “all-good” or “all bad”), is a matter of delusion, failing to see the enormous grey area that we all inhabit. perhaps a meditation on the qualities of a candle can help. begin by seeing the positive qualities: light, warmth, dance. but acknowledge also that it may burn us, that it will not last forever, and that it is certainly limited in its power to please us. through this we learn a gentle acceptance, even appreciation, of the candle. people are the same. they may be the light of our life, or they may badly burn us – or both at different times.

will buddhism drive you crazy?

kyle takes up the fear by some people that delving into buddhism can drive you to the brink of insanity, and right over it.

i have heard so many different misguided opinions about how buddhism is ‘dangerous’ and can cause ‘psychosis’ and even ‘permanent mental illness’. i have heard leaders and the priestly class of other religions say this, i have heard psychiatrists say this and even some historians. they claim that the kamikaze pilots in world war two shows how twisted buddhism can make one become. some psychiatrists will point to patients having psychotic breaks sometimes needing hospitalization and even having permanent mental issues caused by practicing some form of buddhist meditation.

kyle’s conclusion is that it’s important to have a teacher. generally, i’d agree with it, except that the teacher has to know what she or he is doing. i’ve had a few experiences with another approach – kundalini yoga – where the teacher actually denied that anything out of the ordinary could happen, which was contrary to my own experience. that felt pretty crazy-making for a while!

go on to part 2.

image by poorfish