Articles

Buddha’s Teachings on Mindfulness

Buddha’s Teachings on Mindfulness [2017]

The Buddha’s Teachings on Mindfulness By Gil Fronsdal What should be done for his disciples out of compassion by a Teacher who seeks their welfare and has compassion for them, that I have done for you, Ānanda. There are these roots of trees, these empty huts. Meditate, Ānānda, do not delay, or else you will regret it later. This is my instruction to you.     (MN 152.18) The image that most universally represents Buddhism is that of the Buddha meditating.  Without…

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The Buddha as a Chaplain

The Buddha as a Chaplain [2016]

  Reading the Middle Length Discourses as a resource for chaplains by Gil Fronsdal “A being not subject to delusion has appeared in the world for the welfare and happiness of many, out of compassion for the world, for the good, welfare, and happiness of gods and humans.”                                                                …

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Mindful Listening

Mindful Listening [2015]

The great value of mindfulness practice can be found in the ordinary activities of daily life. It is not necessary to engage in extraordinary pursuits to realize the full depth and breadth of Buddhist practice. Listening is one of the ordinary, daily activities that can serve as a powerful vehicle for cultivating mindfulness, insight, and freedom. Dharma practice is to develop the ability to “see clearly;” listening well is a way to do this. Through listening we can better appreciate…

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Mindfulness of the Hindrances

Mindfulness of the Hindrances [2014]

Anyone practicing mindfulness knows there are forces in the mind that can make it difficult to stay attentive to one’s present moment experience. Ranging from weak to very powerful, these forces hamper our ability to remain mindful, develop concentration and have clear insight. They pull our attention away from our efforts to meditate. Even with the best of intentions to stay focused, these forces can propel us into the world of pre-occupation and distracted thought. Rather than reacting to these…

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Caring for the Earth as Buddhist Practice

Caring for the Earth as Buddhist Practice [2013]

Buddhism teaches that personal practice and safeguarding our environment are closely connected. This is because both of these endeavors ask us to overcome the forces of greed, hate, and delusion. The intimate relationship between the world and ourselves means that when we properly care for ourselves we will care for the world, and when we do what’s best for the world, we benefit ourselves. After his awakening, which took place as he sat outdoors underneath a tree, the Buddha continued…

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Developing the Mind Supports Insight

Developing the Mind Supports Insight [2013]

In Buddhist practice, acquiring liberating insight goes hand-in-hand with mental cultivation. We cannot have deep insight without developing the mind, any more than a nearsighted person can see clearly without glasses. And we cannot benefit from insight without inner strength, any more than a hiker can climb a mountain without physical strength. The three core insights of mindfulness practice are impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and not-self. Because of their importance, these “three characteristics” are often taught enthusiastically without reference to the mental…

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Article: “A Life of Mutual Benefit” by Gil Fronsdal

Article: “A Life of Mutual Benefit” by Gil Fronsdal [2012]

“A wise person is motivated to benefit oneself, others, and both self and others.” —The Buddha Some people live focused on benefiting themselves and those to whom they feel close. Some people are devoted to benefiting others, sometimes at the expense of themselves. To the Buddha, a wise person is someone who wishes for the good of all. Our lives are so interconnected that it is not possible to benefit oneself while neglecting others. And one can’t be of much…

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Article: “The Buddha’s Eightfold Path” by Gil Fronsdal

Article: “The Buddha’s Eightfold Path” by Gil Fronsdal [2012]

The Buddha’s teachings describe an accessible path to liberation. The ancient Buddhist metaphor of a path draws on the idea of a cleared passageway that allows one to move through an otherwise impassable forest. Just as a person brings his or her entire body along when walking on a path in the forest, so a spiritual practitioner enters the Buddha’s path by engaging all aspects of who he or she is. Yet while a physical path exists whether we walk…

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Article: From Mad to M.A.D.L.E.S.S. by Gil Fronsdal

Article: From Mad to M.A.D.L.E.S.S. by Gil Fronsdal [2012]

Anger is one of the most common human emotions and perhaps the most dangerous. Regardless of whether the anger is directed toward ourselves or others, it can be painful and cause a great deal of suffering. While the danger of mild anger may only be discomfort for the person who is angry, rage and simmering hostility can lead to significant pain and distress for ourselves and others. The danger of anger increases dramatically when it’s acted out: relationships can be…

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Article: The Action of Non-Action by Gil Fronsdal

Article: The Action of Non-Action by Gil Fronsdal [2012]

Buddhist practice involves engaging in actions on a path to freedom and awakening.  Action, in other words, is key. Reading about Buddhism is not the same as taking up the practice.  If we learn about Buddhist practice but don’t change any of our behaviors, we won’t experience the benefits of the practice.  Unless we actually take up the activity of mindfulness, mindfulness practice will have no role in our lives. If we decide we want to meditate but fail to…

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Article: The Dana of Dana Retreats

Article: The Dana of Dana Retreats [2012]

by: Gil Fronsdal At the Insight Meditation Center, and soon, at the new Insight Retreat Center, we offer our residential retreats freely at no cost to anyone who participates. We do so because we believe Buddhist practice unfolds best in a field of generosity, gratitude, and goodwill. We also believe the freely given aspect of retreats exemplifies the remarkable inner freedom that Buddhism champions. By demonstrating an alternative to the dominant materialism and acquisitiveness of our culture, we hope these…

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Article: Concentration & Relaxation

Article: Concentration & Relaxation [2012]

by Andrea Fella When we go on a residential retreat, we often hope that our meditation will result in a deepening of concentration: a quality of composure, collectedness, of settled attention. But unfortunately, we can’t force concentration to happen! We can, however, support the conditions that allow it to arise. This simple fact has been really helpful for me to remember. In our meditation practice, we often bring along the cultural baggage of an “I’m going to do this” mentality,…

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Article: Cultivating Compassion by Gil Fronsdal

Article: Cultivating Compassion by Gil Fronsdal [2011]

Compassion is inextricably linked to the Buddhist practice of liberation. It can be the motivation for this practice as well as the result.  As one’s inner freedom grows, one’s capacity for compassion increases; as one’s compassion increases, so does the importance of freedom. Liberation supports compassion and compassion supports liberation. They both benefit when they go hand in hand. Compassion is a form of empathy and care that wishes for the alleviation of someone’s suffering. Known as karuna in Buddhism,…

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Article: “Actions” by Gil Fronsdal

Article: “Actions” by Gil Fronsdal [2011]

Many of the Buddha’s teachings focus, in one way or another, on the importance of action in a wise life. When he gave instructions on how to live, he emphasized the importance of choosing actions that benefit ourselves and others. To understand his instruction on action it helps to be familiar with the teachings that provide the context for knowing how to act. For people on the Buddha’s path of liberation, understanding the relationship between action and karma is important. …

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Article: “Going for Refuge” by Gil Fronsdal

Article: “Going for Refuge” by Gil Fronsdal [2011]

All of Buddhism flows from the Buddha’s awakening. This is so important that the title “Buddha”, meaning “One Who is Awake”, comes from bodhi, the Buddhist word for awakening. Often, because Buddhism is a path by which others may experience this awakening, this goal is what is emphasized in Buddhist teachings. In practice, however, for many Buddhist practitioners ‘going for refuge’ can involve a change of heart and mind as consequential as awakening itself. There are two modern meanings of…

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