Why do we Suffer?

Mostly because we find it very difficult to pay attention to the present moment. Many of us are really scared to  be present with our thoughts and feelings in the now, and mindfulness meditation, may be very difficult.

If we are confronted with this reality and what this understanding may demand of us, we might get the idea that we should radically change - significantly  - heaven forbid!

Real change, not just thinking about it, or talking about it…

We may well think, “Fuck That!”

I know I have.

Pain is not easy to embrace, But, in my experience there is no way round it. We all need to accept and embrace life as it is. Pain is universal. we all experience it. An understanding of this can highlight empathy, then we understand that we are not alone. we are not different. This understanding may lead us to awaken the compassion in our hearts that is crying out to be released.

Such change may be liberating and healing, but it’s not without pain.

If we can have love and compassion for ourselves, then this is the beginning of love and compassion for others,

Stephen.

What is the Meaning of life?

I am very tempted to answer that I have no idea. And in many ways this would be a true statement from me. And yet something inside me screams out, shouting love, compassion, help me, help others - in the midst of pain, hatred and destruction.

I do know that we all need to be loved and love others.

This in itself is wonderful, and painful, and costly.

The Buddha told us that life is suffering - and that there is a way out of suffering.

One way out of suffering is to understand this and to help each other.

To understand that we run after silly things that don’t help us at all.

So what is the meaning of life?

I think it’s to be able to give and receive love. To embrace our vulnerability and woundedness and to understand that our sisters and bothers feel just like us.

We are not separate, we are one, the illusion of separateness causes much unhappiness.

Stephen

Authenticity

In my years as a therapist I have found that when I have been able to be transparently myself and have been able to be really present with my clients, something really significant and meaningful has happened. Heart has been able to touch heart and sometimes healing has occurred.

I feel this is about real listening, an empathic understanding and a willingness to share our common humanity and vulnerability. Tenderness has touched tenderness, Put simply it’s about acknowledging the power of presence, really being with the other person, in a completely accepting way, without judgement.

I have found that for the other person and myself this has been profoundly healing.

I hope sharing this with you is helpful.

Taking Refuge

'In the beginning, we may think that the Buddha is someone other than ourselves - another person. There are people who may think that the Buddha is a God, and there are those who know that the Buddha is a human being like us but one who has practiced and reached a very high level of enlightenment, understanding and compassion. However, we think that person is someone that is not us, and we have to go to him for refuge: Buddham Saranam Gacchami. I go to the Buddha for refuge.

If you dwell in that practice, some day you will come to understand that the Buddha is not really another person. The Buddha is within us, because the substance that makes up a Buddha is the energy of mindfulness, of understanding, and compassion. If you practice well and you listen to the Buddha, you know that you have the Buddha nature within you. You have the capacity of waking up, of being understanding and compassionate. Therefore, we have made progress and now we are seeking the Buddha from within. The Buddha ceases to be the other. The Buddha can be touched everywhere and especially within yourself. Unless you touch the nature of the Buddha or Buddhahood, you cannot touch the Buddha. If Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha, has Buddhahood, you yourself have your own Buddhahood. That is something that we have to arrive at.

In the beginning, we say, “I take refuge in the Buddha.” Later on we say, “I take refuge in the Buddha within myself.” That is how the Chinese, the Japanese, the Vietnamese, and the Koreans chant when they recite the Three Refuges, “I take refuge in the Buddha within myself.”

"I take refuge in the Buddha, the one who shows me the way in this life." The "one" who shows me the way in this life begins by being Shakyamuni the Enlightened One. But if you practice well, you might progress. Then you know that he is not so much another person, because you have the Buddha nature in you, and you take refuge in that nature within you. It becomes a direct experience, and the object of your faith is no longer an idea about a person named Shakyamuni, an idea about Buddhahood, an idea about Buddha nature. Now you are touching Buddha nature not as an idea but as a reality. Buddha nature is the capacity of being awake, of being mindful and concentrated and understanding. And you know very well by yourself that it is a reality that you can touch within yourself at any time.’

- Thich Nhat Hanh, Going Home, Jesus and Buddha as Brothers.

Widening our Circle of Understanding and Compassion

'To extend our practice we must learn to consciously bring the spirit of wakefulness and loving-kindness to every act. Albert Einstein, one of our modern wise men, described spiritual life in this way:

A human being is a part of the whole called by us “the universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest - a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of understanding and compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty.

Expanding our spiritual practice is actually a process of expanding our heart, of widening our circle of insight and compassion to gradually include the whole of our life. Being on earth here in human bodies, this year, this day, is our spiritual practice.’

- Jack Kornfield, A Path With Heart, A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life.