Integrating practice and life

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

Integrating practice and life

Postby pink_trike » Sat Sep 19, 2009 2:57 am

I'm preparing to introduce a set of Dharma concepts - primarily the 4NT and 8FP, to a non-Buddhist group of people - most of whom have no interest in Buddhism or religion/spirituality at all and aren't particularly "intellectual" although they are smart. I'll be presenting these concepts completely stripped of all "Buddhist" terminology...there will be no hint that the concepts I'm presenting are of "Buddhist" origin or part of a "spiritual path". I'll also be presenting simple practices related to these concepts that are grounded in normal everyday actions with no reference to any obvious "spiritual" goals of any kind.

I'm curious how Buddhists bring practice to real life situations...I don't mean chanting, reciting Buddhist phrases, or reflecting on the suttas silently...I'm more interested in how you've made ordinary tasks and actions in the course of daily life into practice. For example, one that I started doing many years ago is when I put the teapot or a pot of water on the stove to boil, I stand and wait for it to boil keeping my attention on the pot until it boils instead of letting the mind run off while waiting for it. It's true, a watched pot never seems to boil. :) I've developed many of these micro practices related to many of the teachings over the years and know that others do this also. How do you practice in "real life"?
Last edited by pink_trike on Sat Sep 19, 2009 3:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
User avatar
pink_trike
 
Posts: 1038
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 7:29 am

Re: Integrating practice and life

Postby Tex » Sat Sep 19, 2009 3:16 am

Don't know if this is what you're looking for, but one thing I started doing a while ago is directing my attention immediately to the breath when I start to feel an undesired emotion or thought. A too-common example is when someone cuts me off in traffic and I feel that anger start, rather than trying to push it away, I'll immediately take my attention to the breath instead. Same thing when something happens at work, like a coworker complaining or gossiping all day or a client that gets nasty on the phone -- attention straight to the breath before the reaction in my head to *whatever* even gets started and picks up any momentum. It's definitely helped me calm my temper a bit, it's amazing to me how quickly negative thoughts dissipate if they don't have time to get rolling downhill.
"The serene and peaceful mind is the true epitome of human achievement."-- Ajahn Chah, Living Dhamma

"To reach beyond fear and danger we must sharpen and widen our vision. We have to pierce through the deceptions that lull us into a comfortable complacency, to take a straight look down into the depths of our existence, without turning away uneasily or running after distractions." -- Bhikkhu Bodhi
User avatar
Tex
 
Posts: 623
Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 9:46 pm
Location: Austin, TX, USA

Re: Integrating practice and life

Postby kidd » Sat Sep 19, 2009 4:54 am

By being honest about myself, others and life; seeing and appreciating things as they are.

:juggling:
kidd
 
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Aug 31, 2009 5:20 am

Re: Integrating practice and life

Postby adosa » Sat Sep 19, 2009 1:29 pm

Hi Pink_trike

Why start at any other place than the lay precepts? Maybe discuss the impact to the world and oneself if we all worked at not killing, not taking what is not given, not committing sexual harm to oneself or others, and not lying? In a nutshell, striving to be blameless and harmless. Keep it simple and it may have more of an impact.

adosa
"To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas" - Dhammapada 183
User avatar
adosa
 
Posts: 263
Joined: Thu Apr 09, 2009 11:08 pm

Re: Integrating practice and life

Postby pink_trike » Sat Sep 19, 2009 5:42 pm

adosa wrote:Hi Pink_trike

Why start at any other place than the lay precepts? Maybe discuss the impact to the world and oneself if we all worked at not killing, not taking what is not given, not committing sexual harm to oneself or others, and not lying? In a nutshell, striving to be blameless and harmless. Keep it simple and it may have more of an impact.

adosa

Hi Adosa,

Yes, these are some of the subjects I'll be talking about. What I'm hoping people here will share are the ways that they ritualize the teachings during daily life...how they take practice to the street.

---

A couple more examples: One of my teachers suggested whenever riding in a car, plane, train, motorcycle, etc... to consciously regard it as a "vehicle of awareness" and use that opportunity to practice awareness in action. And another teacher suggested to a group of students to regard the acts of defecation/urination/menstration/vomiting/sneezing as conscious release by acknowledging the processes of "letting go" while doing so.

---

Thanks everyone for your feedback.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
User avatar
pink_trike
 
Posts: 1038
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 7:29 am

Re: Integrating practice and life

Postby BlackBird » Sat Sep 19, 2009 9:16 pm

I find I brush my teeth a lot better when I do so with mindfulness.
I find I driving a lot more stress free with mindfulness.
I find everything easier to do after a sit.

:anjali:
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
User avatar
BlackBird
 
Posts: 1861
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 12:07 pm
Location: New Zealand

Re: Integrating practice and life

Postby christopher::: » Sun Sep 20, 2009 12:56 am

Brushing teeth is an excellent example, Jack, as I've also noticed that how mindfully i do it directly relates to the health of my teeth and gums. Writing is another activity where mindfulness effects outcome. When I write by hand i do so slowly and carefully. That's how i developed good handwriting. Same with art, anyone who does art will find a dramatic improvement if you cultivate equanimity, slow down and draw mindfully.

With driving equanimity and mindfulness means one is less likely to get into an accident. Cooking is an activity I enjoy doing mindfully. Also washing and waxing the car, exercise... One can use the body and mind as frames of reference while swimming, walking, cleaning, running, yoga, weight lifting, etc...

When communicating one needs to be calm and mindful to really listen to people. As Steven Covey points out one of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is to "Seek first to understand, then to be understood."

You could also make a joke about men, women and toilets at night. Women who complain they sit down on an open toilet seat were not being mindful, they should have looked first carefully before sitting down. And men of course can be mindful to put seats down and observe with care where they aim.

On a different track, I find the short Zen stories are great ways to communicate dharma principles. The story of the professor who doesnt empty his cup, and so the zen teacher pours till it overflows. The story of the monk who falls off a mountain, grabs a branch, sees a tiger below waiting to eat him and then notices a delicious strawberry, etc...

My favorite (and one that a lot of nonBuddhists have enjoyed) is the story of the two monks Tanzan and Ekido where Tanzan picks up a women to help her across a puddle and then Ekido gets really angry, after Tanzan had already put her down... The story provides a nice metaphor for how most of us carry around emotions and resentment longer then we need to.... I told that to family members one year, when there were some family quarrels, and found it hit a cord with them, I heard my aunt actually repeat the story to someone else...

Hope something above will be helpful, PT.

:smile:
Last edited by christopher::: on Wed Sep 23, 2009 3:52 am, edited 2 times in total.
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
User avatar
christopher:::
 
Posts: 1323
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 12:56 am

Re: Integrating practice and life

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Sep 20, 2009 4:41 am

Hi Jeff,

Do you have Ajahn Brahm's book "Opening the Door to Your Heart" (US title: "Who ordered this truckload of dung?")?
http://www.bswa.org/

Lots of new and old stories there that you might be able to adapt.

Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10379
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Integrating practice and life

Postby pink_trike » Sun Sep 20, 2009 5:52 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Jeff,

Do you have Ajahn Brahm's book "Opening the Door to Your Heart" (US title: "Who ordered this truckload of dung?")?
http://www.bswa.org/

Lots of new and old stories there that you might be able to adapt.

Mike

Nope, but Amazon says it's on the way. Thanks for the tip. :smile:
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
User avatar
pink_trike
 
Posts: 1038
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 7:29 am

Re: Integrating practice and life

Postby Sanghamitta » Sun Sep 20, 2009 7:25 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Jeff,

Do you have Ajahn Brahm's book "Opening the Door to Your Heart" (US title: "Who ordered this truckload of dung?")?
http://www.bswa.org/

Lots of new and old stories there that you might be able to adapt.

Mike

seconded... :anjali:
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.
Sanghamitta
 
Posts: 1614
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:21 am
Location: By the River Thames near London.

Re: Integrating practice and life

Postby adosa » Sun Sep 20, 2009 12:45 pm

pink_trike wrote:
adosa wrote:Hi Pink_trike

Why start at any other place than the lay precepts? Maybe discuss the impact to the world and oneself if we all worked at not killing, not taking what is not given, not committing sexual harm to oneself or others, and not lying? In a nutshell, striving to be blameless and harmless. Keep it simple and it may have more of an impact.

adosa

Hi Adosa,

Yes, these are some of the subjects I'll be talking about. What I'm hoping people here will share are the ways that they ritualize the teachings during daily life...how they take practice to the street.

---

A couple more examples: One of my teachers suggested whenever riding in a car, plane, train, motorcycle, etc... to consciously regard it as a "vehicle of awareness" and use that opportunity to practice awareness in action. And another teacher suggested to a group of students to regard the acts of defecation/urination/menstration/vomiting/sneezing as conscious release by acknowledging the processes of "letting go" while doing so.

---

Thanks everyone for your feedback.



Are you strictly focusing on Right Mindfulness? I was thinking of Right Action which,as a path factor, is every bit as important. To me at least. Thinking of your audience, the concept of wholesome actions might transcend religions or even the non-religious. But maybe I've misunderstood your O.P.


adosa
"To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas" - Dhammapada 183
User avatar
adosa
 
Posts: 263
Joined: Thu Apr 09, 2009 11:08 pm

Re: Integrating practice and life

Postby pink_trike » Sun Sep 20, 2009 9:29 pm

adosa wrote:
Are you strictly focusing on Right Mindfulness? I was thinking of Right Action which,as a path factor, is every bit as important. To me at least. Thinking of your audience, the concept of wholesome actions might transcend religions or even the non-religious. But maybe I've misunderstood your O.P.
adosa


I'm presenting the 4NT along with the 8FP with no reference to Buddhism or any of it's jargon and no references to spirituality, religion, "enlightenment' etc...

For each of the 4NT/8FP concepts i'm also describing ways that we can remain aware of the concept while engaging with the patterns and circumstances of life. I'm curious about the little ways that people here remind themselves of the 4NT/8FP throughout the course of their interactions with the circumstances of life that don't involve formal practices or sutta recitation. I'm talking about ways of seeing and remembering the truth of each concept as we interact with the stuff of life...how the stuff of life itself can serve as reminders. Consciously associating Dharma truths with everyday actions/circumstances/appearances so that these experiences can then serve to remind us of the associated truth every time we encounter them - like the examples I gave. Like naming the bathroom mirror "the window of truth' so that every time we look into it we're reminded to see the truths of living in a human body instead of just the usual superficial image of the body. The mirror becomes a conscious practice aid.

I know this is more of a tantric technique, but I know that Theravada teachers frequently encourage students to make these kinds of associations also. Am curious what associations others have made.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
User avatar
pink_trike
 
Posts: 1038
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 7:29 am

Re: Integrating practice and life

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Sep 20, 2009 11:59 pm

Greetings Pink_trike,

When there is any feeling of discontent, I try to understand what is the internal cause behind it.

If I understand the internal cause, then even without controlling the external world, I can learn to remove the unpleasant effect.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14672
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Integrating practice and life

Postby appicchato » Mon Sep 21, 2009 1:09 am

retrofuturist wrote:When there is any feeling of discontent, I try to understand what is the internal cause behind it.

If I understand the internal cause, then even without controlling the external world, I can learn to remove the unpleasant effect.

That's good Paul...my variation on the theme is: 'I can (try) to learn to accept the unpleasant effect as it is'...(knowing that it will pass)...

Be well... :smile:
User avatar
appicchato
 
Posts: 1596
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:47 am
Location: Bridge on the River Kwae

Re: Integrating practice and life

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Sep 21, 2009 2:14 am

I like that, bhante... one focused on dukkha, and one on anicca... if we have a wise-reflection based on anatta, we'll have the full set.

:anjali:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14672
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Integrating practice and life

Postby pink_trike » Mon Sep 21, 2009 2:55 am

Hi Retro, Ven. App.


I agree, and I'm not suggesting manipulating the external world. I'm suggesting using what appears in the external world as reminders of what we've learned to apply to the internal world but often forget to do when we're caught up in daily life. We can set reminders for ourselves in the external world, turning the appearances of the external world into sticky notes that point inward.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
User avatar
pink_trike
 
Posts: 1038
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 7:29 am

Re: Integrating practice and life

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Sep 21, 2009 3:28 am

Greetings Pink_trike,

I didn't think you were. :)

I was thinking along the lines of a quote I heard that I forgot the origins of... you can cover the world in carpet, or you can put shoes on your feet.

I think that's simple enough for your audience to grasp, devoid of Buddhist terminology etc.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14672
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Integrating practice and life

Postby zavk » Mon Sep 21, 2009 3:36 am

Hi Pink

I don't really have anything new to add to what has already been suggested. I too find the idea of "experiencing one's present experience as it is" a pithy way of summarising what we are doing in Buddhist practice. I've found it helpful to inhabit my body whenever I'm waiting in a queue or in an elevator or when I'm walking. I do this by bringing awareness to the sensations on the soles of my feet, the sensation of standing, of sitting, the feeling of weight, etc, etc. These postures or actions serve as anchors for me to experience the present moment as it presents itself to consciousness.
With metta,
zavk
User avatar
zavk
 
Posts: 1161
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2009 12:04 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Integrating practice and life

Postby cooran » Mon Sep 21, 2009 4:01 am

Hello Pink,

In my job I sometimes do counseling with women who have new babies in their homes. Often they are in troubled relationships where there is, at the least, verbal and emotional abuse. Apart from traditional counselling methods CBT etc., I often intersperse stories such as my 'version' of the Akkosa Sutta (which has substitute modern names for the 'host' and the 'rude guest' [the partner]) - Walshe trans. below - and they always "get it". It is teaching them that insults and cruel words (emotional and psychological abuse) belong to the perpetrator not to the subject of the abuse. i.e. it can only hurt if she 'accepts' and 'owns' the insults and demeaning words herself.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .budd.html

I'm sure, with a little thought, you could teach and illustrate any of the Buddha's teachings without alluding to any religious tradition.

I do hope the Buddha doesn't mind being called 'Malcolm' and the abuser being called 'Joe' in the story. :tongue:

metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
User avatar
cooran
 
Posts: 7601
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Integrating practice and life

Postby pink_trike » Mon Sep 21, 2009 4:31 am

retrofuturist wrote:
you can cover the world in carpet, or you can put shoes on your feet.


Perfect. :smile:
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
User avatar
pink_trike
 
Posts: 1038
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 7:29 am

Next

Return to Theravāda for the modern world

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests