Read up on our latest Dharma teachings

Giving Thanks & Practicing Gratitude on Thanksgiving

Over the past few years, as I’ve evolved a Buddhist lifestyle, Thanksgiving has become one of my favourite Western holidays, right up there with Christmas because it feels so good to give. Here is a personal list of my reasons why: Thanksgiving is one of the least commercial holidays the western world has that provides an opportunity to complete acts of kindness for family, friends and people we don’t know. This holiday tradition of gathering family and friends together to “give thanks” for everything and everyone that this life has given them is an opportunity to strengthen and/or repair personal relationships. There are many community and personal opportunities to volunteer your time or donate money to those who are less fortunate. You have the choice to make an incredible vegan or vegetarian meal to celebrate in which no animals will be harmed. (There is a link to a recipe for...

Karma: Part II

We learned from the last article that karma is not a deterministic law that the Hindus and Jains had advocated, but more like the continuous adding and tasting of new karmic ingredients in the melting pot of life. As a seed planted without water, sunshine and the right soil will never blossom into a flower, the initial karma without considering it in context of one’s intention, state of mind, present and future actions cannot account for the full karmic result of an event. This is encouraging news to all of us for the results of our past karma are not etched in stone. With new wholesome intentions and skillful actions, we can undo the foolish deeds of our past. But before we set course on our voyage towards greater freedom and happiness, we ought to first learn some basic sailing terminology and know-how to make our journey a smooth sail....

Practicing Metta and Mudita

When asked what important concepts I’ve learned in my 10+ year Dharma journey thus far, two that stand out are: metta and mudita. In short, here is why: These definitive Pali words have no singular equal in English. They remove the burden of one’s ego involvement in the practice. These concepts connect all beings in a positive non-clinging way. The Pali word metta is defined in English by http://www.accesstoinsight.org as: "loving-kindness, friendliness, goodwill, benevolence, fellowship, amity, concord, inoffensiveness and non-violence. The Pali commentators define metta as the strong wish for the welfare and happiness of others (parahita-parasukha-kamana). Essentially metta is an altruistic attitude of love and friendliness as distinguished from mere amiability based on self-interest ". What is important to note in the practice of metta is that of non-clinging. This non-clinging quality is the antidote for eliminating personal expectations - when you want your kindness and love to be...

Debunking the Myth of Meditation

Finding a meditation center in your area is hardly a challenge these days. They’re everywhere. There are even smartphone apps for it. With mindfulness studios and workshops springing up in major cities like New York, San Francisco, London and Hong Kong, it’s no wonder why this ancient practice has gone mainstream in our current era. Much has been done by media and the medical community to showcase its benefits. Mainstream culture has popularized meditation as a simple, cheap, no-frills approach to improving your health and mental well-being, arguably much better than shelling out thousands of dollars for prescription drugs or long therapy sessions with a psychiatrist. There is also a plethora of scientific and medical studies that extol its many health and stress-reducing benefits. The medical evidence is certainly convincing. It also accounts for why it has caught on so quickly in the secular sphere – those holding to no...

No Doubt, No Awakening

I was recently approached by a layperson, who told me she had been struggling with doubt in her practice since starting on the path a few years ago. She was born to a Chinese Buddhist family, but being raised in the west, and with a deplorable habit of suspecting almost everything she could be suspicious of, she found it really difficult to insulate her practice from her persistent skepticism. In spite of her shortcoming, which is not unusual today in the age of modern secularism, she was particularly drawn to the Medicine Buddha Sutra and would recite it almost daily. As she later revealed, there was one phrase in the sutra which constantly challenged her to her core. Every time, when her eyes would try to gloss over that sentence, the words would spring out at her like a prematurely released jack-in-the-box. She would go on to reluctantly read, one...

Breathe, Love & Live – Consciously

My journey to establishing a Buddhist Practice began in 2004 when I was going through a very difficult time in my life that was filled with pain, loss and suffering. I was in the midst of recovering from an automobile accident that occurred 4 years previously. During my recovery journey, I met a layman Practitioner who had volunteered to tutor college students like myself who were struggling to complete their coursework assignments due to cognitive difficulties. When I look back now, I realize our sessions had quickly progressed from simply getting the work completed to building a valuable friendship. This mentor practiced compassionate listening and patience by simply being fully present to listen to my personal journey up to that point of pain and loss surrounding the car crash. In a short amount of time, our weekly sessions evolved to what I now know as Dharma talks. These are sharing...

Karma: Part I

The actors assume their places for the next take. The assistant cameraman, visibly vexed by the redundancy of filming another scene, raises the clapperboard again. Snap! The sharp sound breaks the silence in the air. The film is rolling, and the director, looking on in angst, calls, for what he hopes to be the last time, “ACTION!” This scenario should not be new to us. We are all actors playing our unique roles on the movie set of Samsara. But this is no typical acting gig. That is to say, in this movie, we have no say over what role we get to play or what props we get to work with. We must simply make do with what we have. Lurking behind the scenes of this movie is also an invisible hand, a powerful force that silently pushes the scene forward and drives the script of our lives: our...

The Power of Thought

In my last article, I introduced the common fault that most people fall victim to in their search for happiness. In this article, I would like to examine the effect of thought on well-being and happiness. James Allen, the famous British philosopher who was one of the pioneers of the self-help movement, and later inspired motivational thinkers like Napoleon Hill and Dale Carnegie, once said, “A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the sum of all his thoughts”. A thought is like a seed in the garden of our minds. Planting good seeds will cultivate a beautiful and flourishing garden while planting bad ones will lead to one riddled with weeds and undesirable byproducts. The Buddha in his discourse on the eight-fold path, described right thought as the basis for a virtuous life. He explained that right thinking can help us eliminate our suffering and bring us lasting peace and well-being while deluded...

What is True Happiness?

Most people are led to believe, at a very young age, that happiness comes from satisfying their desires. A thought of craving comes up, you then react by trying to satisfy that desire, and its consummation gives rise to a pleasurable sensation, which we often associate with happiness. Take for instance, Sunny, a restless, hyperactive young boy heading home in his mom’s minivan after soccer practice. They pass by a park and Sunny sees some children eating ice cream. Sunny immediately gives rise to the thought of how refreshing a double scoop of ice cream would be in this scorching summer heat. He begins to arouse a desire. His craving is finally satisfied when his mother gives in to his incessant whining. When Sunny takes that first bite into frosty wonderland, his whole body is soothed and he feels completely at ease with himself. Sunny is very happy at this moment, until his attention is hitched by...
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