How Karma Works part 4

Karma: all of our actions and thoughts have inevitable results, both positive and negative, for better or for worse. Navigating our lives—and future rebirths—depends on understanding causality: how karma works. Understanding karma is crucial to reaching our goals, both material and spiritual.

In class 4 we discuss:

  • How karma is stored in the mind.
  • How karmic causes are created, and how karmic results emerge.
  • Comparing Mind-Only and Middle-Way schools description of karma.

 

Video and class materials.

How Karma Works part 3

Karma: all of our actions and thoughts have inevitable results, both positive and negative, for better or for worse. Navigating our lives—and future rebirths—depends on understanding causality: how karma works. Understanding karma is crucial to reaching our goals, both material and spiritual.

In class 3 we discuss:

  • When karma created in the present can ripen in the future
  • The four different types of ripened results
  • Karmic correlations—the types of ripened results that come from specific actions

Video and class materials.

How Karma Works part 2

Karma: all of our actions and thoughts have inevitable results, both positive and negative, for better or for worse. Navigating our lives—and future rebirths—depends on understanding causality: how karma works. Understanding karma is crucial to reaching our goals, both material and spiritual.

In class 2:

  • Examine “old” karma and “new” karma.
  • Explore virtuous, non-virtuous, and neutral karma.
  • Go through the ten main ways to create non-virtuous karma, and their positive counterparts.

Video and class materials.

How Karma Works part 1

Karma: all of our actions and thoughts have inevitable results, both positive and negative, for better or for worse. Navigating our lives—and future rebirths—depends on understanding causality: how karma works. Understanding karma is crucial to reaching our goals, both material and spiritual.

In class 1:

  • Looking at the Buddhist texts we’ll use as our source
  • Logical proofs for how the universe works
  • Mental vs physical karma

Video and class materials.

How Karma Works

Resources for the How Karma Works course, June 29–August 10, 2021.  More information on the course, and how to join live!

Karma: all of our actions and thoughts have inevitable results, both positive and negative, for better or for worse. Navigating our lives—and future rebirths—depends on understanding causality: how karma works. Understanding karma is crucial to reaching our goals, both material and spiritual.

Video:

Audio:

  • How Karma Works part 1
    • Looking at the Buddhist texts we’ll use as our source
    • Logical proofs for how the universe works
    • Mental vs physical karma
  • How Karma Works part 2
    • Examine “old” karma and “new” karma
    • Explore virtuous, non-virtuous, and neutral karma
    • Go through the ten main ways to create non-virtuous karma, and their positive counterparts
  • How Karma Works part 3
    • When karma created in the present can ripen in the future
    • The four different types of ripened results
    • Karmic correlations—the types of ripened results that come from specific actions
  • How Karma Works part 4
    • How karma is stored in the mind
    • How karmic causes are created, and how karmic results emerge
    • Comparing Mind-Only and Middle-Way schools description of karma

Resources:

  • Mind-Only/Yogācāra School model of 8 aspects of consciousness:

Life in Community

Living in community can be challenging, since we need to balance the demands of many different relationships and personalities. Spiritual community can be attending teachings or church events as part of an urban lifestyle, or as deep as living in a rural residential spiritual center. It’s likely that some conflict will emerge, or we will encounter people who rub us the wrong way. This is particularly stressful in spiritual community, since we are often asked to put our disagreements and preferences aside for the harmony of the group. Spiritual coaching is a safe and confidential place to discuss these relationships—and to vent frustrations—while deciding how best to manage a difficult situation.

Gautama Buddha taught that spiritual friendship is a cornerstone of the spiritual life. Spiritual communities are created by the people we study, practice, socialize, and celebrate with. It’s amazingly rewarding and supportive to know that we’re not going through life alone, and that others are also trying to live a mindful, spiritual life. Spiritual fellowship can be an anchor in our life; that weekly gathering can become part of our feeling of home.

When we think of spiritual community, often we imagine an ashram, monastery, or convent: a secluded hermitage where those few people who have chosen a spiritual vocation can retreat from the world to focus on the religious life. We can imagine the congregation wearing identical robes, growing their own food, and spending the days absorbed in translating ancient tomes. Such places do exist, and it’s possible to orient our life to live in such a community, and without necessarily enrolling as a member of the ordained clergy; we can support and enjoy the community as a lay person. It’s not easy, however, because living in a religious enclave requires conforming to the expectations of the group and sacrificing some comforts of secular lifestyles. Spiritual coaching is an opportunity to explore if this is a good option for you.

More likely we’re part of a spiritual community as part of our daily urban lives. All major cities have a wealth of groups representing the entire spectrum of spiritual traditions, and even most smaller towns have options for both western and eastern traditions. Indeed, there is something of a spiritual marketplace, where different groups—even from the same tradition—may compete for our attention. When we’re just starting out on a spiritual path, or moving to a new area, it’s worth taking some time to explore the options before making a commitment.

Once settled into a spiritual community, we may not always find smooth sailing. Spiritual groups are organizations with their own legal structures and financial needs. Like any organization, there is the potential for internal disagreements and personality conflicts. We may find ourselves in spiritual community that overall feels supportive, but where we don’t get along with every person there; it can be disconcerting to be practicing love and compassion on the one hand, and getting annoyed with someone who rubs us the wrong way on the other. Spiritual groups can also make demands on our time and money with expectations of volunteering or donations; internal conflict arises when we feel like the organization is asking more than we can give.

Finding a spiritual community that we feel connected to is a challenging and rewarding venture. Spiritual community can take many different forms, so explore the possibilities. Spiritual community has its own challenges, so be prepared to face conflict with maturity. Spiritual coaching is a supportive relationship where you can explore your thoughts and feelings in a confidential and non-judgmental space. This can help you gain clarity about your goals, develop the tools to reach them, and get support and resources to help you along your path.

Contact us for more information about spiritual coaching.

What is a Spiritual Lifestyle?

Spirituality is inclusive of all parts of a person’s life. A spiritual lifestyle is about cultivating the inner dimensions of deep meaning in everything we do. Physical health, career and livelihood, family and relationships, are all part of wellbeing and fulfillment. There must be a sense of connected wholeness between who we believe we are, who we aspire to become, and what we actually do in our daily life. A spiritual lifestyle is situated in the cosmos, amongst beings seen and unseen, gods and demons, forces we can control and forces beyond conception—and our life at the center of it all. Spiritual coaching is the process of discussing and deepening understanding of our beliefs about this vast and meaningful world, making sense of our place in it, setting our intentions, and reaching our goals.

In the tradition of the Ancient Greeks—the origin of western thought and civilization—philosophy and spirituality were synonymous. Philosophy is to think well and, more importantly, to live well. Philosophy is concerned primarily about death: at that moment, we know whether we have lived a life of meaning and purpose. Our daily lives and choices are about striving for true happiness—not merely sensual gratification, but eudaimonia: the satisfaction of trusting in our own ability to face hardships with moral character and resilience. Thus, all of our choices are significant and meaningful: we are either working toward, or away, from a life of value which, at death, will allow us to look back on our life with satisfaction and contentment. At it’s core, then, the philosophical and spiritual life is about cultivating moral character and virtue: the ability to respond to life’s many challenges with compassion and grace.

The spiritual lifestyle is about cultivating deep meaning and purpose. There are many sources of meaning that can come from great books, traditions and lineages, teachers and mentors, or our own inner insights. Purpose can be as vast as a hero’s mission granted to us by the Creator, or as personal as wanting to leave the world (or a room, or a relationship) a bit better than you found it. Meaning and purpose are inherently subjective: each person has a slightly (or very) different perspective on what is most important in life. An aspect of the spiritual life is accepting that what is meaningful to us may not be meaningful to other people. Not all parts of our inner life are subject to public scrutiny and approval, and we must nurture and protect our sense of meaning.

The spiritual lifestyle is deeply personal, yet also expressed in everything we do, say, and think. What we choose to study, what we do for our livelihood, the kinds of relationships we have (and don’t have), our hobbies and fun—all are expressions of our spiritual life. Nothing is not spiritual; it’s not as if we’re spiritual while we’re meditating or praying, and somehow not spiritual the rest of the time. Spiritual life can look like going to church, meditating, or going on retreat; but it can also look like watching the sunset, preparing a meal, or snuggling with family on the couch watching a movie.

How we earn money is an important part of our spiritual lifestyle. The modern world has become performance-oriented, with an attitude that we should be perpetually striving for material gains, spending our free time on a “side hustle,” and going viral on the internet. Whether we’re pursuing peak performance as an entrepreneur or CEO, or voluntarily living a simpler life on a homestead, our work is connected to our sustenance, shelter, and security. We can’t just check our virtue at the door when we clock in, but we don’t always have the option to work in an environment that aligns with our values. Navigating a career that supports our spiritual life is crucial.

The spiritual lifestyle can be at odds with the messages of mainstream culture: with unlimited objects to acquire and always a better version of the things we already have, there’s a perpetual sense of lack, and a subtle (or not-so-subtle) message that we’re incomplete. Cultivating a spiritual life is an antidote to this perpetual striving: we are finding what makes us whole, being satisfied with what we have, cultivating contentment as a way of life, and relying on our own virtue and resilience as markers for success. Ideally, we can find a balance, where we can be both fully in and of the world, while simultaneously nurturing a life of deep meaning and purpose.

Decoding the Heart Sutra — part 6

The Heart Sutra is the most recited, copied, and studied text in all schools of Mahayana Buddhism. It reviews the foundations of Buddhist philosophy while revealing the profound Perfection of Wisdom: the doctrine of emptiness. In this class series, we will study the Sutra in Sanskrit, discuss the key philosophical points of Buddhism, and reveal the deep teachings on emptiness. In the final class of the series, we examine the qualities of awakened beings described by the Heart Sutra, and the crucial instructions on how to practice of the Perfection of Wisdom.

Show notes include the Sutra in Sanskrit and English, along with video of the class and other visual aids.

Decoding the Heart Sutra

The Heart Sūtra is the most recited, copied, and studied text in all schools of Mahāyāna Buddhism. It reviews the foundations of Buddhist philosophy while revealing the profound Perfection of Wisdom: the doctrine of emptiness. In this class series, we will study the Sutra in Sanskrit, discuss the key philosophical points of Buddhism, and reveal the deep teachings on emptiness.

Below is the video of the six-class course, the Heart Sūtra in Sanksrit and translated into English, and visual aids mentioned in the course.

Heart Sutra in Sanskrit, Roman transliteration

mahā prajñāpāramita hṛdayam sūtra

oṃ namo bhagavatyai ārya prajñāpāramitāyai

ārya-avalokiteśvaro bodhisattvo gambhīrāṃ prajñāpāramitā caryāṃ caramāṇo vyavalokayati sma panca-skandhās tāṃś ca svābhava śūnyān paśyati sma.

iha śāriputra: rūpaṃ śūnyatā śūnyataiva rūpaṃ; rūpān na pṛthak śūnyatā śunyatāyā na pṛthag rūpaṃ; yad rūpaṃ sā śūnyatā; ya śūnyatā tad rūpaṃ. evam eva vedanā saṃjñā saṃskāra vijñānaṃ.

iha śāriputra: sarva-dharmāḥ śūnyatā-lakṣaṇā, anutpannā aniruddhā, amalā avimalā, anūnā aparipūrṇāḥ.

tasmāc chāriputra śūnyatayāṃ na rūpaṃ na vedanā na saṃjñā na saṃskārāḥ na vijñānam. na cakṣuḥ-śrotra-ghrāna-jihvā-kāya-manāṃsi. na rūpa-śabda-gandha-rasa-spraṣṭavaya-dharmāh.

na cakṣūr-dhātur yāvan na manovijñāna-dhātuḥ.

na-avidyā na-avidyā-kṣayo yāvan na jarā-maraṇam na jarā-maraṇa-kṣayo.

na duhkha-samudaya-nirodha-margā.

na jñānam, na prāptir na-aprāptiḥ.

tasmāc chāriputra aprāptitvād bodhisattvasya prajñāpāramitām āśritya viharatyacittāvaraṇaḥ. cittāvaraṇa-nāstitvād atrastro viparyāsa-atikrānto niṣṭhā-nirvāṇa-prāptaḥ.

tryadhva-vyavasthitāḥ sarva-buddhāḥ prajñāpāramitām āśrityā-anuttarāṃ samyaksambodhim abhisambuddhāḥ.

tasmāj jñātavyam: prajñāpāramitā mahā-mantro mahā-vidyā mantro anuttara-mantro samasama-mantraḥ, sarva duḥkha praśamanaḥ, satyam amithyatāt. prajñāpāramitāyām ukto mantraḥ. tadyathā:

gate gate pāragate pārasaṃgate bodhi svāhā.

iti prajñāpāramitā hṛdayam samāptam

Heart Sutra English Translation by Michael “Mojo” Tchudi

The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom

Homage to the Awakened Woman, the Noble Perfection of Wisdom

The Noble and Profound Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, while practicing the practice of the Perfection of Wisdom looked down upon the world and saw that the five categories they were empty of self-nature.

“Here, Śariputra: form is emptiness and emptiness alone is form. Form is not different from emptiness, emptiness is not different from form. What form is, that is emptiness; what emptiness is, that is form. In just such a way are also feelings, perceptions, impulses, and consciousness.

“Here, Śariputra, all phenomena have the defining characteristic of emptiness. They are not created, they are not destroyed. They are not dirty, they are not pure. They are not deficient, they are not complete.

“Furthermore, Śariputra, in emptiness there is no form, no feelings, no perceptions, no impulses, and no consciousness. No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, or mind. No forms, sounds, smells, tastes, things to touch, or thoughts. No capacity for sight, or all the others up to capacity for thought. (18 sense spheres)

“No ignorance or ending of ignorance, through to no decay and death or ending of decay and death. (12 links of interdependent origination)

“No suffering, cause, ending of suffering, or path to end suffering. (4 noble truths)

“No wisdom, no attainment, and no non-attainment. (4 paths of the arhat)

“Therefore, Śāriputra, because of the Bodhisattva’s state of non-attainment, having relied upon the Perfection of Wisdom, he/she dwells without obstacles of mind. Because he is not in the state of having obstacles of mind, unafraid, having stepped beyond delusion, he has attained the condition of nirvāṇa.

“All enlightened beings situated in the three times, having obtained the asylum of the unsurpassed Perfection of Wisdom, followed the path of the perfect wisdom and joined with enlightenment.

“Therefore, this is to be known: the Perfection of Wisdom is a great incantation, an incantation of great wisdom, an unsurpassable incantation, an unequaled incantation. All suffering is pacified, it is genuine and without wrongness. The incantation of the Perfection of Wisdom was spoken thus:

“gate gate pāragate pārasaṃgate bodhi svāhā”

Twelve Links of Interdependent Origination

Decoding the Heart Sutra — part 5

The Heart Sutra is the most recited, copied, and studied text in all schools of Mahayana Buddhism. It reviews the foundations of Buddhist philosophy while revealing the profound Perfection of Wisdom: the doctrine of emptiness. In this class series, we will study the Sutra in Sanskrit, discuss the key philosophical points of Buddhism, and reveal the deep teachings on emptiness. In this class, we review the foundation of all Buddhist teachings: the Four Noble Truths, as well as the four stages of awakening to nirvana according to the path of the arhat.

Show notes include the Sutra in Sanskrit and English, along with video of the class and other visual aids.