The Five Mindfulness Trainings
Reverence For Life
Loving Speech and Deep Listening
Nourishment and Healing
“ I would like to offer some exercises that can help us use the Five Precepts [AKA Mindfulness Trainings] to cultivate and strengthen mindfulness. It is best to choose one of these exercises and work with it meticulously for a week. Then examine the results and choose another for a subsequent week. These practices can help us understand and find ways to work with each precept.
Find a friend, a sister or a brother in the practice whose way of looking at you is different from your way of looking at yourself. Then ask them with all your heart: “Please be compassionate to me. Please shine light on me, and help me and guide me in my practice.” Its’ important that you ask them with all your sincerity, because sometimes we are proud or angry and the other person doesn’t dare tell us the truth.....
If you choose just one person, you might pick someone who you think would just say positive things about you....The more people who shine light on your practice, the more light there will be in that darkest place of your suffering.
Listen carefully to what the people say who shine light on your practice. It doesn’t matter whether you agree or disagree with them; pay attention to everything exactly as they say it. It takes time to look deeply into what they have said. Perhaps those people have seen something you haven’t been able to see about yourself.... Each person you ask will have some wrong perceptions, that is true. But the guidance you receive will make your understanding of yourself more correct, and the fruit of your practice will be greater.
If you are the person who shines light on a friend’s practice, use all of your wisdom and understanding. Avoid manifesting irritation or blame as you offer advice, and deliver your words with care, love and insight. Find the good qualities, and the precious things in that person, and remind them of the positive elements that are available to them.
Then you talk about their weaknesses and their negative tendencies. You do your best to look clearly into the suffering and obstructions of that person..... Why can’t that person be happy? Maybe they have a habit energy from the past that does not allow them to enjoy the present moment. Maybe that habit energy is one of being too hasty. Perhaps they received that tendency from their grandparents. That is not their fault. You don’t blame anyone—you don’t take all the responsibility on yourself or put all the responsibility on the other person.... So no blaming and no punishing, because these things are not helpful. You only need to look deeply, and that will give you compassion....
If the other person has obstructions and internal formations, you ask yourself, “how have I contributed to this?”.... Then ask yourself, “How have I contributed to making that person freer and happier?”.... If you see that you have not helped them much, you promise yourself that from now on you will be more positive in helping that person....
Take refuge in each other. Support each other. That is a method of practice.
[Excerpts from ‘Shining the Light,’ in Friends on the Path, pages 294-5.]
No Strings Attached
The Buddha's Culture of Generosity
Thanissaro Bhikkhu© 2009
“How can I ever repay you for your teaching?”
“By being intent on practicing.”
Each time he gave this answer,
We tend not to associate codes of conduct with the word “freedom,” but that's because we forget that freedom, too, needs protection, especially from the attitude that wants to be free in its choices but feels insecure when others are free in theirs. The Buddha's codes of conduct are voluntary — he never coerced anyone into practicing his teachings — but once they are adopted, they require the cooperation of both sides to keep them effective and strong.
These codes are best understood in terms of the six factors that the Buddha said exemplified the ideal gift:
“The donor, before giving, is glad; while giving, his/her mind is inspired; and after giving, is gratified. These are the three factors of the donor…
“The recipients are free of passion or are practicing for the subduing of passion; free of aversion or practicing for the subduing of aversion; and free of delusion or practicing for the subduing of delusion. These are the three factors of the recipients.”
— AN 6.37
See also: The Economy of Gifts, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
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