Every-day teachings from life

Teachings are everywhere…

I usually live in seclusion, but have had to re-engage in normal social life recently, for an extended period of months.

Living in seclusion and happily enjoying a simple frugal lifestyle, I hadn’t realised just how worn-out and rag-like my clothes had become. Being back in the city and out and about every day, I could see that my friend was a bit embarrassed by my appearance, and I started to feel self conscious.

Yesterday I bought a few new clothes, modestly priced but quite pretty.

All night I couldn’t figure out why I felt as if something was wrong. I didn’t sleep well for uneasiness. This morning clarity arrived… :joy: I realised that it just felt so weird to put value onto appearances and clothes… that these were just a bit too fancy - that they were making a definite statement about identity, it complicated my choices in the morning (strengthening volition) - they were engaged in a dialogue in wordly delights and concerns.

And the most interesting and surprising thing was that it just felt (not quite ‘bad’) but stupid, petty, childish, coarse and frivolous. Note. I don’t consider this to be negative or a failure of any kind - but just an interesting observation how gradually the Noble 8 fold path takes over until one becomes the only path

The experience of nibbida, due to a wardrobe issue :rofl:

I’m sure many here will have lots of examples of teachings in everyday things. It would be lovely and inspiring to hear about, if anyone else would like to share :slight_smile:

:anjal::dharmawheel:

14 Likes

Apart from the necessity of meeting workplace expectations, I prefer holey ragged clothing because it does a really great job at making me invisible to people who only value looks. Instant seclusion!

The opposite works on formal occasions. Wearing good clothes at a formal function also grants me seclusion. How strange.

9 Likes

I suppose one could say the same thing about food. On the one hand, at many times and in many places Buddhist monks have subsisted on a fairly simple diet of rice, vegetables, fruit, and small amounts of protein. There is something noble in that, especially when one considers that the modern diet of some monks these days not only has become frivolous, but downright unhealthy:


On the other hand, the opportunity to enjoy a more varied diet, including simple delicacies, is also an opportunity for mindfulness. At the Wat I attend the laypeople bring daily meals for the monks. The food is typically fresh, home cooked, varied, and delicious! For Sunday services in particular, the laypeople bring a vast array of beautifully prepared dishes for the communal lunch. I have noted that the monks maintain their usual air of dignity and do not get overly excited about the bounty placed before them, but it is obvious as they select their items that they are highly appreciative for the chance to mindfully exercises all their senses as they eat.

Since adopting Buddhist practice, I too have approached food in a new way. In many ways, I eat far better now than before. In some ways, it might be considered frivolous that my freezer is always stocked with a vast array of items. But, I also eat healthier now. More importantly, I eat mindfully. I note every texture, aroma, and flavor. I find eating a widely varied diet not frivolous, but meditative.

It is worth noting that the middle path is a pursuit between excess and austerity. One need not be unclothed nor decked out in designer fashion to meditate and be mindful of how one is attired. Dressing can be as meditative as eating; taking care to note every gesture of buttoning, zipping, tying, etc. just as one can meditate when smelling, tasting, chewing, swallowing, etc. Note every sense as it arises. That is the middle way between the excesses and denial of sensory experiences.

4 Likes

I think revulsion or Nibbida only arises when one is aware of impermanence, not-self and unsatisfactoriness. Attachment to the practice (‘carrying the raft on one’s shoulder’) happens easily, and straying from it can feel like betrayal and create suffering. I take these opportunities to understand my defilement ‘landscape’ better, and work on them and remove the attachment so that it won’t cause suffering next time.

The practice of the Dhamma should widen one’s capabilities and environments that one can survive in rather than restrict one’s abilities, as we let go of our cherished values and attachments.

with metta

5 Likes

Dear @Mat,

Your comment above sounds like this is an ‘attainment’ as part of stream entry - is that what you mean? I certainly don’t want to stray into this area at all.

However, I love the Dhamma, and seeing its effects on daily life. I like to watch and contemplate the arising of thoughts and feelings (when I can catch them). As such, all aspects of existence are my teachers :slight_smile: I can’t believe that I am alone in this, and therefore invited others to share some little experiences and insights.

I do sometimes get frustrated at “the code” of what is and isn’t allowed to be discussed and the necessity to label everything to within an inch of its life. I completely understand and accept both the general reasons for not making claims, and specifically that this site asks people not to make claims of attainments. But I struggle with the delineation, and feel that discussion of real life examples of living the dhamma can be a wholesome and inspiring activity. Certainly I didn’t even realise that this post could be considered as such.

After-all, we are told that experiencing the joy in following the path is important. So when I actually experience evidence that suffering is lessening in my life as a result, then I am happy. And I wanted to share it with others, and to encourage others to notice these little daily things :slight_smile: Additionally, in a recent talk Ajahn Brahm highlighted the importance of occasionally looking back, and seeing ones progress along the path - feeling happy about this. Yesterday, this is exactly the feeling I had - a demonstration of internal change in view and understanding… It made me happy :slight_smile: :sun_with_face::thaibuddha:

Now being a moderator, I also am aware of the specific focus of SC and D&D, and that’s why this is in the watercooler category - just a bit of light-hearted reflections on the Dhamma and connection with the Kalyanamittas. My motivation was just to share a little bit of joy with you all.

Dear Mat if I have misunderstood your comments please forgive me. If anyone has taken offence at my post I do apologise.

:anjal::dharmawheel::sun_with_face::sunflower::ear_of_rice::rainbow:

12 Likes

:rainbow: back at ya!

4 Likes

Hi Viveka :slight_smile:

Here’s one:

Getting grumpy within a couple of hours of having had a nice little metta sit.

Initially when this happened I felt such a failure and disheartened I shied away from any kind of metta practice.

Then I remembered a transcription I’d read, of a talk by Ajahn Chah. In this talk he was saying that all the way up to Nibbana, the worldly/less wholesome conditioning and the Dhamma/more wholesome conditioning alternate one after the other… And I remembered Ajahn Brahm talking about kamma vipaka and how sometimes the old kamma just plays itself out like a anatta-ish tape… (not their exact words, I think!)

And it made me feel better. :slight_smile: So I don’t find it so disturbing if I sit and feel a bit of peace and then shortly thereafter find myself cranky or irritated. I’m learning that the key is to not stop sitting…!! In all this, I think this:

…plays such a wonderful and also important role. Again, I am reminded of Ajahn Brahm saying that we learn more from reflecting on our successes, than we do our failures.

Thank you for this pleasant, friendly thread. :heartpulse::blossom::tulip:

15 Likes

Dwelling on failure isn’t helpful. :white_flower:

with much metta,

4 Likes

Over the last 4 months I have been returning to a place i find myself drawn to, like the stillness in me seek the stillness there. I work nearby for a period of up to a week, and live 100 km south.

Personally I didn’t understand why the mind/intuition took us here, but it’s nice despite it’s placed very close to the City center. Not until 3 weeks ago, then a co worker heard me saying that I spendt my breaks there, and that meditations came easy around a special building.

She knows I meditate especially on the four bramha viharas. and all of them are very friendly to me, and let me keep up practice as long as it doesn’t interfere with anything negative regarding our team duties. But now she informed me at that building, 27 years ago today, she gave birth to her firstborn, and it was a very difficult labor.
And this woman is quite special to me, because both she and her husband has interesting spiritual life’s behind and maybe a lot of “parami”, but a lot of spiritual and physical agony and physical pain now and further as long as they together are a bit lost away from the path.

A year ago i worked a few days with her husband - I do think I know what’s the problem, but can’t say anything, just be there and make their days together as team members in the “real world” a bit easier.

Anyway, I like this place, and a couple of hour ago i was driving home from grocery shopping, and felt for a bit of stillness, and parked outside the hospital, and listened to this beautiful psalm of Genesis/Peter Gabriel - a song I’ve loved and cherished without knowing what he actually sings since i was 15. Now when i and Peter together went trough words and emotions, from time before, and now, I slowly and clearly broke down in a good crying, and really dove into metta for all beings, following the words of Peter

Here Comes the Flood

Peter Gabriel

When the night shows
The signals grow on radios
All the strange things
They come and go, as early warnings
Stranded starfish have no place to hide
Still waiting for the swollen Easter tide
There’s no point in direction we cannot
Even choose a side.

I took the old track
The hollow shoulder, across the waters
On the tall cliffs
They were getting older, sons and daughters
The jaded underworld was riding high
Waves of steel hurled metal at the sky
And as the nail sunk in the cloud, the rain
Was warm and soaked the crowd.

Lord, here comes the flood
We’ll say goodbye to flesh and blood
If again the seas are silent
In any still alive
It’ll be those who gave their island to survive
Drink up, dreamers, you’re running dry.

When the flood calls
You have no home, you have no walls
In the thunder crash
You’re a thousand minds, within a flash
Don’t be afraid to cry at what you see
The actors gone, there’s only you and me
And if we break before the dawn, they’ll
Use up what we used to be.

Lord, here comes the flood
We’ll say goodbye to flesh and blood
If again the seas are silent
In any still alive
It’ll be those who gave their island to survive
Drink up, dreamers, you’re running dry.

7 Likes

Just a general question- does what you wear, make you more peaceful or generous?!

with metta

Greetings Matt

Clothes, coverings of the body, have no inherent significance what-so-ever. However what one Thinks or Feels about them, how one behaves and the choices one makes as a result of this, does influence ones mind state, and subsequent behaviour, and if it comes to it, the choices we make, the patterns that are reinforced and what kamma is made.

The whole aim in the path to liberation is to cultivate mindfulness and awareness of delusion and the way things really are. If one can see delusion arising then it is beneficial to explore the thoughts and feelings that cause it to manifest and to ‘unravel’ it - to divest as much conditioning as possible :slight_smile: This is liberation in my view :slight_smile:

The example I initially gave was all about a ‘backwards and forwards’ motion in thoughts and feelings. Much like @anon29387788 's example. The mere fact that one is aware of this movement can be used to reinforce awareness and take it further :smiley: And, for me. seeing this ‘in action’ brings me joy… It demonstrates that one is on the right track, that the N8fp is being integrated into ones life… that it has lessened suffering.
I don’t know about others, but the happiness, joy and peace that arises from this is really some ‘fruit’ of all the work, and on the occasions that it is obvious, then one should taste it and delight in it. Much like coming across a fruit tree on the side of a hard and long path :smiley: It wouldn’t make any sense to just ignore it and hurry past - no benefit to anyone. But to sit for a while and enjoy and fortify oneself for the continuing journey is certainly beneficial.

May all beings be free of suffering, may all beings feel peace and happiness
:anjal::dharmawheel::thaibuddha:

6 Likes

‘You should distinguish two kinds of robes: those you should wear, and those you shouldn’t wear.’ That’s what I said, but why did I say it?
Take a robe of which you know this. ‘When I wear this robe, unskillful qualities grow, and skillful qualities decline.’
You should not wear that kind of robe. Take a robe of which you know this. ‘When I wear this robe, unskillful qualities decline, and skillful qualities grow.’
You should wear that kind of robe. ‘You should distinguish two kinds of robes: those you should wear, and those you shouldn’t wear.’ That’s what I said, and this is why I said it.

:anjal:

7 Likes

@awarewolf Thank you for sharing. What a lovely experience :anjal:

2 Likes

I attended an event on campus today where faculty were attired in their academic robes and hoods. As @Viveka notes:

My academic robe served two functions today: 1. It signified my doctoral degree and university where it was conferred; 2. It kept me warm.

I have lost a lot of weight recently and therefore feel cold much of the time. Although it was a comparatively warm day today (around 65 degrees Fahrenheit, 18 Celsius), I was quite cold. The rank my robe conferred on me was of less importance to me than the warmth it provided. Both academic title and bodily sensations are impermanent and therefore not-self, but for the purposes of relieving suffering due to attachment to my academic rank and my physical comfort, the robe was of greater assistance for the latter than the former.

By the way, I adopted a meditative state of mind during the addresses and speeches that were part of today’s event. That made the proceedings a more mindful experience for me than would otherwise have been the case.

8 Likes

Viveka, when I visit the local temple, it being Sri Lankan I wear white clothes (I believe wearing white clothes by lay disciples is mentioned in the EBTs, as well) and I think it does get me into a mind set that is appropriate for the place I will be attending, and the (unconscious) ‘role’ I will be taking on. I get a sign of purity and calm from wearing white as does having clean, minimalistic surroundings. My work clothes had me experiencing different emotion, as you said. First it was functional- I didn’t want a tie that would constrict my neck- then it turned out wearing one wasn’t essential! Then defilments like conceit and craving crept it. Now its functional - it helps me to perform the role I took on, apart from its more basic functions -protection from the environment, privacy, utility-pockets to carry things, excretion related functionality, etc. It would seem that what we wear is also a method of communicating to others how we feel on the day. I notice that clothes are used to project class or wealth distinctions. I wonder how a monk’s robes ‘work’ - if any ordained folk would like to comment… :slight_smile:

with metta,

4 Likes

Just on the verge of driving for some important dhamma business (driving a couple of visiting monks around sight seeing), and was wondering what to wear - white is a sure thing, because everybody is wearing it, and nobody want to be regarded at something alien in the sangha, will we …

Anyway, i have always found “black” more nice to wear, both because this big body looks maybe not that big when one choose a darker outfit, but also because i find black to be nice and not at all “dark”. And in practice I have become even darker or more black, because I find totally black to be as pure as totally white - so, never mind choosing “color”, as long as one doesn’t mix one’s colorful minds into daily sati :wink:

So, Black it is!

But I like to add, that there are occasions where “white” is the color one has to put on, because not doing the same as the others, might send a wrong signal, not skillful, or mindful you know …

7 Likes

I asked my dear monk friend and tanajhan in the local Thai temple:

I really feel a bit sorry for you my friend, because i have only one single women at home pushing me around, but here there are more than 30 females going on “babbling”, and you have to sit here listen to they are finished, pushing here and there, demanding this or that …!?!

I can leave the room and get away, but you my friend are stuck - how do you manage to stay sane? …

He looked at me and beckoned me closer, picked a little ball of paper out of his ear, and then another ball of paper out of the other ear … and said: No problem!

2 Likes

@awarewolf just checking; the point of the anecdote or joke is that men stop listening to women?

Is there some other point? The story makes no sense to me.

it doesn’t make much sense to me either, just sharing some observations, and as far as i want to make a point, it would be that i was the problem maker, and he is an exemplary monk, and chit chat is just that, not more or less …

Maybe you see other points, but they will be yours

I guess this is one reason why Buddhism needs more Bhikkhunis.

4 Likes