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Why Do Buddhists Say 'Amituofo' So Much?


Mindfulness in Daily Living ~ Bhante Aggacitta

Mindfulness in Daily Living
~ Bhante Aggacitta

Most times when we are engaged in our daily activities—moving around, writing at the desk, washing dishes, etc.—it is difficult to remember to be aware and to go back to the body.

But it is a good tool to use mindfulness of the body as an anchor, to ground one in the present moment. The moment you are aware that you are thinking, note the thought, let it go and bring the mind back to the body.

"Uncovering Layers of Past Conditioning"

It is good to ask yourself, every now and then, “Where is my mind?” If it is not with the five senses—seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching—then it is thinking. Check how it moves and behaves.

As the Buddha said (in SN 47:35), “a bhikkhu exercises full awareness by being aware of feelings, thoughts and perceptions as they arise, persist and disappear.”

If you are skilful in watching the mind, then you will not get caught up in thoughts and emotions.

When you do this, you become more focussed on what you are presently doing, and you can be aware of the many layers of conditioning that cause thoughts and emotions to arise.

During a recent Introduction to Monkhood Programme conducted in Sasanarakkha Buddhist Sanctuary (SBS), one of the parti-cipants put into practice what I had taught about mindfulness of ongoing activities. He petted one of the cats we have there, trying to be mindful, then went to wash his hands. At that moment, it struck him that the cause for his habitual act of washing his hands after touching a cat—although he was not deliberately thinking about it then—was because his mother had inculcated this in him when he was a child. He had an insight into the conditioning that brought about the automatic response of washing his hands after touching a cat.

Most, if not all, of our behaviour patterns are the products of past conditioning. Like robots we automatically react to situations according to such conditioned ways. Sometimes such conditioning can be the root of certain bad habits.

If we can see such conditioning, then we have a chance to undo it.

We can see the root causes of problems such as inexplicable inhibitions, phobias and grudges. We can be our own psychotherapist—watch our mind, see the conditioning that brings about such negativity and we can overcome them.

"Track the Mind and Experience Not-self (Anatta)"

The mind is a busybody. If you watch it, you can see how it moves from the eye, to the ear, etc. to thoughts commenting on almost every little thing that you can perceive through the senses.

It seems to be engaged in multitasking, but it is not. The mind is just moving very fast from object to object. See how it moves and behaves and how thoughts arise. This is how we can learn to be focused on what we are doing in the present.

...Being a busybody, the mind will be pulled to whichever sense object that is dominant. Each sense is constantly trying to overpower the others to get the attention of the mind.

If you just let it go, the mind will be taken over by the senses and it will respond with attachment, greed, lust, dislike, disappointment, etc. The moment you are aware of this, bring the mind back to the body.

However, there is a note of caution here. When we are aware of unwholesome thoughts we tend to either indulge in them or feel guilty about them.

It is important to bear in mind that the practice of mindfulness involves dis-engaging oneself from those thoughts and observing them objectively. Any reactions to those thoughts are also mental states that should be noted. In order to prevent further reactions to all those thoughts, you must immediately bring the mind back to the body.

As you continually try to watch your thoughts and emotions, one of the first insights that will dawn upon you is how fleeting and unruly the mind is. It really makes you wonder, “Who am I?”

If you can clearly see how thoughts and emotions arise due to various specific conditions you will begin to have a greater understanding of what the Buddha meant by ‘not-self’ (anatta). You experience them as a flux of transient phenomena which are discrete yet causally related.

Now the seeming solidity of your self-image (or ego) begins to melt.

You can watch them as an external observer, without identifying with them. Then even the ‘observer’ can be seen as discrete moments of awareness that arise and disappear due to specific conditioning.

This can be very liberating, as we normally identify our thoughts, emotions and awareness with our ‘self’.

~ Bhante Aggacitta
Excerpt from "Wherever you are,
whatever you’re doing, ?whenever you can BE PRESENT"

We all know that person, the one that brightens up a room – by leaving it. They are inconsiderate of everyone around them, overly judgmental and a master of manipulation. They are hard to deal with, and can cause unnecessary stress in our hectic day to day lives.

While you can’t always avoid them, recognizing a toxic person will help you to prepare yourself and manage the situation accordingly.

Here are 10 traits to watch for that will help you to spot a toxic person:

§ Drama, Drama, Drama
They couldn’t be any more negative. There is always some crisis or problem in their lives, something is always going wrong. If you do try to help by offering your advice they shoot it down, informing you that it won’t work before even considering trying it.

§ They have a lot to say, but can’t be bothered to listen
Toxic people are often wildly narcissistic, focusing all their time and effort on the person they consider to the most important in the room – themselves.

§ They try to control everyone in their lives
They are determined to get what they want, and act like everyone else is nothing more than a pawn in their game. They want you to act in a specific way in order to fit into their script.

§ Their personal experiences dictate how everyone else should live
Everyone around them should judge their experiences in life based on what they have done, not done, liked or disliked. If they eat somewhere and didn’t like their meal it is a horrible restaurant that couldn’t possibly be enjoyed by anyone else.

§ They unapologetically monopolize your time
They have no concept of your schedule or life, sucking up your time without giving anything back in return. They value their own time, but not that of anyone else in their lives.

§ They disguise their lack of common courtesy as ‘honesty’
Sure, they will admit that they made that harsh comment about you last week, but it OBVIOUSLY wasn’t meant to be an attack, they were just being honest! They lack tact and common courtesy, throwing around harsh words and judgments without holding back.

§ They are queens and kings of gossip
They love to talk about other people, its like a hobby. They lift themselves up, building up their own ego and self-esteem by tearing everyone else down.

§ They are always right
It doesn’t matter if they are trying to argue that the sky is hot pink, they are never wrong! They are, after all, the source of all knowledge. They refuse to learn from anyone else and if you do go against them they are quick to lash out.

§ Their relationships are for show
They force relationships to happen in each area of their lives, not so that they can genuinely connect with these people, but simply to show other people how popular they are.

§ The lies just keep coming
The tell so many lies that you can’t always tell where the truth ends and the lies begin. They make telling lies look as easy as spelling your own name.

In response to a conversation on Reddit about toxic people, and the way to handle interacting with them, one user provided the following words of wisdom:

“The deeper your present moment peace gets, the easier it’ll be to react non-passionately when confronted with hostility. As this gets better, you can begin to realize more deeply just how much someone has to be suffering internally in order to have such harsh reactions. With enough insight, you can develop your empathy and compassion based off this knowledge and these also help you remain even more peaceful in the present moment.

Eventually, with enough compassion and insight on your side, you can begin to extinguish the fires of hostility by extinguishing anger with patience and understanding… It’s hard to continue treating someone harshly when they continue treating you well. In helping them relieve these feelings, you not only help them but you also help yourself, since you no longer have to deal with them as they were.”

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