What does it mean to really pay attention to those we care about and love?Read More
Dharmapunx NYC + Brooklyn is an open, Buddhist community in the Theravadan tradition. Classes are offered without charge, supported by donation only. The following articles are by the community's teacher, Josh Korda. Artwork above by Max Kahan
Accepting that others will probably not change in the ways we want, that the way they've acted previously is a good indication of how they'll continue to operate is not defeatism or resignation; it teaches us, again and again, to turn and face what we can control: our intentions, what we focus the mind on, where we turn for security and emotional mirroring. Letting go of demands, we can respond to life with imagination and renewed resilience. When we’re no longer at war with the world, we can actually begin to find peace right here.Read More
There is a time to cast aside our defenses and risk everything to live with an open and undefended heart. it's possible to be free. The key is to persist in the effort of revealing our fluid and messy emotional experience to others, until we find those who are capable of receiving and holding it with grace.Read More
Without The Narrator we would quite feasibly be overwhelmed by random experience and our ability to self-soothe would be severely compromised. And so we host a stream of commentary about life, an arrays of views, opinions and explanations about our experience in the world, the new chapters to our ongoing inner autobiography. A voice that annotates our daily hunt for security, adding justifications to behaviors driven by largely unconscious urges and impulses.Read More
The Buddha taught that the pursuit for a true, unique self was a misguided and wasteful quest (for example, the Ananda Sutta, SN 44.1). Why? This piece examines the reasons against getting caught up in the self-identity search or inquiry.
The practice of acceptance is not resignation, agreeing that we will always feel encumbered; rather its a realization that resistance, as the Buddha taught in his second arrow teaching, lies at the core of unnecessary suffering. Nor does it mean we act out on every impulse, or wallow in despair, or give up the practices that bring about balance, such as meditation, exercise, medications if prescribed, support meetings and on. Acceptance lies in acknowledging and welcoming what's present as the place we're starting from, rather than wishing we were somewhere else.Read More
Once we acknowledge that things that arise and disappear, the processional nature of world makes the idea of "existence"—of anything truly being—quite problematic. In other words: anything that is changing, and everything changes, cannot be pinned down as a solid and stable entity, something with an identity.Read More
Why do human beings develop the tendency to fall again and again into unsatisfying relationships? Why do we repeat the past, even after developing awareness into the characteristics of unsuitable partners?
During our most vulnerable and formative years, each of us seeks reliable security, empathy, appreciation and encouragement from our caretakers, who serve as our developmental role models. We need to be presented with an array of aspirational skills, talents, behaviors and qualities worth developing over life, such as compassion, humor, creativity, resilience and so on; the human brain is a largely imitative organ, and we need observable targets if we are to evolve and progress throughout life.Read More
what lies on the other side of ignorance? not more views, opinions or concepts, but rather a practice of dropping abstract ideas and stories and returning to the real flow of experience with an open heart.Read More
In opening awareness we let go of the sense of moving from here—wherever we are—to there—that magical place in the future we believe will be more suitable and sublime. The present can become far more spacious than we imagined.Read More
These questions are offered in the hope of providing an exercise that will guide us towards meaningful priorities, higher values and authentic choices, based in openness, honesty, caring, harmlessness, empathy and self-expression. If we want to establish a true meaning for our lives, the meaning shouldn’t be searched for “out there” in the realms of self-help books or lifestyle magazines, but in reflecting on what we’ve seen to be true in our own experience.Read More
Like many other primates, such as chimpanzees and macaques, humans have a strong motivational tendencies to retaliate after being victimized. After any slight, insult, act of aggression or infraction, we seek retribution against those who transgress, committing additional wrongdoings in response. Alas, these reactions generally don't put an end to misdeeds and encroachments; revenge creates a cycle of vengeance, as most acts of retaliation are perceived—by the original transgressors who receive the retribution—as disproportionate, far more painful and harmful than the first offense (which was often caused by carelessness during times of stress, rather than planned.) Consequently a back and forth, tit-for-tat series of retaliations and counter-retaliations ensue (Baumeister, Exline, Sommer 1998).
Its a common practice to rely on certain phrases as self-motivating, activating mantras; mottos to get us going, to hurry us along, put a move on it, pick up the pace, set stuff in motion and focus our attention. These inner incitements come in many forms, but they all have the same, underlying message: We're really screwed this time, unless we work ourselves up into a lather.
If we are to reduce our agitation, short tempers, and low thresholds for difficult emotions, we'll need more than therapy or spiritual practice, we'll also need self-soothing techniques. Self-soothing behaviors are natural, fun, often repetitive behaviors that focus the mind and allow us to achieve inner peace and quiet amidst those periods when we feel overwhelmed or emotionally strained. Self-soothing is different from addictions, as the latter create stress and shame, rather than relieve agitation; addictions separate us from others and result in low self-esteem, while self-soothing techniques are creative and never result in feelings of regret.Read More
In sri lanka there was a cultural practice developed to instill virtue and self-esteem: when children first started to attend school, their teachers would set a side a journal for each student, known as a 'merit book,' (punna-potthaka). And each morning the teacher could then ask a student 'What good deed have you done?" After the student would answer (perhaps "I helped my grandmother carry the groceries home…etc") the teacher could instruct the student to "Write it in the punna."If the students kept up with the practice of writing regularly in their 'merit books', eventually, over the course of a lifetime, these journals would be filled up with good deeds. Naturally, the years pass and the time would arrive when the student became old and sick, having reached their deathbeds, family members and friends would gather around and read the books back to them, to put their minds at ease as they faced death.Read More
One of the most uncomfortable experiences in contemporary life seems to be waiting: we'll do practically anything to avoid it. From the small screens of our smart phones and internet browsers we expect immediate connection to what's going on with our work, friends, blogs, social media pages, internet dating messages and on; a people hooked by the promise of being-in-the-loop, always available, tuned in, tied up. No wonder there's a coffee shop selling 20 ounce acetlycholine blast offs on every corner: Who has time to slow down?Read More
It's reported that some indigenous cultures believe that photographs steal a bit of our soul, that Aboriginals and other island cultures believe that each image takes something of our essence from us. And in a way they're absolutely right. Each instance in which we try to 'capture a moment' we lose understanding that its slipping past us, we'll never get it back, that we've failed to attend to it with the integrity of full sensory awareness.
Such an observation, of course, runs counter to our beliefs, for it seems that we have become as interested in the representation of life as the actual experience of it. From arriving at scenic vistas to the most mundane meal, from nights on the town to resting in our most private moments, the obligation is to whip out a smart phone, take a snapshot and publish the images soon after as a kind of documentation that it really happened, and we really exist, that our lives are so very full. And perhaps there's even an underlying anxiety that none of life counts unless there a two dimensional representation of it stored on the cloud for all our friends to click "like."Read More
It's taught that the Buddha managed to live Twenty Eight years before encountering old age, sickness and death. Today such a remove from distressing events is all but impossible to imagine. For unsettling images are found everywhere; tucked amongst a stream of wedding and birth announcements, travel photographs and restaurant reviews that unwind on social media; or the quick glimpse at a news outlet, bombarding us with horrific scenes, videos of people running from explosive discharges or flooding rivers, underscored by frantic announcements, dire bulletins, and wild speculation, packaged into the two minute news clip. Watching helpless from a distance, we're left to shudder and sigh, lean back in our chairs and wonder if there's anything can we do to help or even understand what it all means.
All of which leaves us with little to do but sign petitions and shake our heads in dismay. (Only the boorishly political find easy answers amidst incomprehensible, faraway mayhem.) If the havoc occurs closer to home, we hold our breaths and check in with those who live in the effected areas, wondering if they've survived the hurricanes, bombs, flooding or mass shootings. If we stumble upon a moment of clarity amidst the deluge of troubling and upsetting news, it means placing a call to someone we care about, forgiving those we haven't forgiven, perhaps reconnecting with someone we've lost in the accumulation of life. As tame and insufficient as these responses may seem, what other recourse do we have?Read More