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“Strive on!” (skillfully). Learning the Dance of Right Effort

And what is right effort? It’s when a mendicant generates enthusiasm, tries, makes an effort, exerts the mind, and strives so that bad, unskillful qualities don’t arise. They generate enthusiasm, try, make an effort, exert the mind, and strive so that bad, unskillful qualities that have arisen are given up. They generate enthusiasm, try, make an effort, exert the mind, …

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“Even two mountains of gold are not enough…”: Livelihood, scarcity, & the dukkha of individualism

It’s “Super Tuesday” as I write this, and though I’m mainly worried that the Dems will mess this up and the world will get another 4 years of the current situation, I’m also amazed. Never in my life have two of the leading contenders for president been strong progressives, each with intelligent progressive economic ideas that if enacted would change …

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“Do not ignore the effect of Right Action”: Ethics, kamma, and the Eightfold Path

The Right Action limb of the path covers the first 3 precepts, starting with non-harming. We’ll look at this excerpt from a sutta called “Intentional” (AN 10.217) to start off, which describes how (and which) actions always have consequences. “Mendicants, I don’t say that intentional deeds that have been performed and accumulated are eliminated without being experienced. And that may …

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Speech like flowers, speech like honey: The discipline & art of Right Speech

We begin looking at speech — the first aspect of the 3 Limbs of ethical action, or sīla. For many of us, speech is one of the most overt ways we find the practice of the ethical precepts challenging. It’s certainly one of the places where our actions very clearly can be seen to have effects in the world and …

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“The ford where all the Buddhas cross”: Ethics as the ground of liberation

Continuing in our exploration of the Noble Eightfold Path, we’re entering the limbs of Right Speech, Action, and Livelihood, collectively known as the Ethics (sīla) section. A discourse called “The People of Sālā,” offering a standard list of the elements of Buddhist ethics, breaking down the limbs of Speech and Action into their subgroups, is at the bottom of the …

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“Like throwing loaded dice”: Right Intention, the root of skillful action

The second limb of the Noble Eightfold Path, and the all-important hinge from View (limb 1) into Action (limbs 3-5), is Right Intention, sammā-saṅkappa. (Here’s the talks from the first part of this series, on Right View.) And what, bhikkhus, is right intention? Intention of renunciation, intention of non-ill will, intention of harmlessness: this is called right intention. SN 45.8: …

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The Noble Eightfold Path to the End of Dissatisfaction: Part 1, Right View

A new dive into the Noble Eightfold Path (8FP), the Buddha’s brilliant scaffolding for integrated individual and collective liberation. We start, as is traditional, with Right View: the turning of the heart toward reality and away from delusion. Right View is both the prerequisite for wisdom to arise and the manifestation of wisdom when it matures. It is described many …

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The Radical Inquiry of Buddhist Mindfulness

One of the most prolific and brilliant Buddhist scholars of our generation is the German Theravāda monastic, Ven. Anālayo. His vast research on the texts and doctrines of Early Buddhism has transformed both the academic study of Early Buddhism and the practice of meditation and mindfulness in lineages connected to it, especially Insight Meditation. His dissertation on Satipaṭṭhāna is the …

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5 Foundations of Practice: Giving, Ethics, Heavens, Dangers, Renunciation

We begin 2019 with a series on foundational practices: what the Buddha often taught as the beginning of a series of “progressive instructions.” This is a style of teaching that presents the path to awakening step by step, often given to folks who are not yet believers, who have not yet taken refuge or who have just done so. It …

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