In this episode of the Death Dhamma podcast, host Margaret Meloni, interviews Cayce Howe, a Dharma teacher and co-founder of Sustainable Caring. They discuss the topic of attachment, which is a key component of Buddhism and can lead to suffering if not managed properly. Cayce explains that the energy of compassion is endless, but when we become attached to a specific outcome, we may experience what is commonly known as compassion fatigue. However, Cayce argues that this fatigue is not caused by an exhaustion of compassion but rather by an attachment to a particular result.
Cayce also discusses the importance of wisdom in managing attachment, particularly the wisdom of impermanence and interdependence. He emphasizes the need to focus on our efforts toward kindness and compassion without becoming attached to specific outcomes or results. This can lead to greater resilience in caring for ourselves and others.
Margaret brings up the issue of systemic factors that can contribute to fatigue and exhaustion, particularly in the healthcare industry. Cayce acknowledges these challenges and emphasizes that while it is important to work towards changing these external factors, we can still work on managing our internal attachment and cultivating compassion in our daily lives.
Overall, this episode offers valuable insights into the Buddhist concept of attachment and how it relates to our experiences of compassion and fatigue. It also highlights the importance of mindfulness and wisdom in managing attachment and finding resilience in challenging circumstances.
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Nurturing the Roots of Skillful Behavior Using the Teachings of the Pali Canon
17:09Today we delve into the teachings of the Pali Canon and explore the wisdom imparted by our esteemed teachers. Today, let's reflect on the concepts of tanha and dukkha, as elucidated in these verses: "When this sticky, uncouth craving overtakes you in the world, your sorrows proliferate like wild grass after rain. However, if you are able to overcome this craving, which is hard to escape, your sorrows will roll off you like water beads off a lotus." (Dhp 335-336) “Just as a tree, even when cut, can grow back if its root remains undamaged and strong, so too can suffering return repeatedly if latent craving is not rooted out.” (Dhp 338) From these verses in the Dhammapada, we can make two observations: first, if our cravings dominate us, we will experience much sorrow; second, if we gain control over our cravings, we will encounter less difficulty. However, it is important to note that conquering cravings does not guarantee a life devoid of challenges. Rather, it enables us to navigate those challenges with greater skill and wisdom. It is important to understand that it is not inherently wrong to desire or want something. What leads us down the path of unskillful attachment or desire is lobha, greed. Greed manifests when we crave more even when we have enough, when we hoard possessions that could benefit others, or when we lie, cheat, or steal to acquire something we intensely desire. For those of us on this path, who are yet to attain enlightenment, experiencing greed is likely. The remedy for greed is found in generosity. Recognize the presence of greed within, understand that it is a natural part of our human condition, and embrace the opportunity to learn and release ourselves from suffering. Observe your feelings nonjudgmentally and with compassion, and work on uprooting these unskillful tendencies. Like a skillful gardener tending to their plot, approach the roots of greed, anger, and delusion with patience and understanding. Instead of reacting with anger or surprise at what has rooted, simply identify it, analyze it, and use the appropriate tool, or in this case, the antidote. Generosity acts as a powerful antidote to greed. So, let us embark on this journey together, paying close attention to what arises within us, the feelings that surface, and how we respond. Let us cultivate a nonjudgmental and compassionate attitude towards ourselves, nurturing the roots of skillful behavior.
Collective Wisdom Around Clinging and Aversion
16:07In this episode, we explore the topic of attachment and its role in our lives. Dr. Seth Zuiho Segal challenges the common belief that Buddhism advocates for non-attachment in all aspects of life. He explains that there are different kinds of attachments, including attachments to people, objects, opinions, and self-identity. While certain attachments can be limiting, Seth argues that relationships are crucial for our overall well-being and that they provide an opportunity to practice mindfulness and compassion. He encourages listeners to prioritize the quality of their relationships and to embrace the complexities of attachment. Venerable De shares personal experience of forming attachments to people who mistreated him and the subsequent impact on his self-worth. He emphasizes the importance of letting go of negative self-views and hard feelings towards abusers in order to move forward and live a healthy life. Venerable De also highlights the significance of offering loving kindness and compassion, both to oneself and to others, as a means of healing and finding solace in difficult times. Mary Stancavage, discusses the concept of letting go of attachments to certain identities or perceptions of oneself. She reflects on her own journey of rediscovering her passion for archaeology without attaching her self-worth to it. Mary advises listeners to dig deep and question the underlying motivations behind their attachments, suggesting that the true source of discomfort often lies beneath the surface. Dave Smith cautions against viewing attachment as inherently negative. He argues that it is rather the greed and clinging associated with attachment that can lead to suffering. Dave introduces the term "lobha" or greed and explains its role in fueling attachment. He encourages listeners to practice kindness and patience towards themselves and others, emphasizing the importance of cultivating a metta (loving-kindness) practice. Throughout the episode, the speakers challenge common misconceptions about attachment and offer insights into how we can navigate its complexities. They highlight the role of relationships, self-reflection, and mindfulness in finding balance and fostering well-being. By exploring the nuances of attachment, listeners are encouraged to develop a greater understanding of themselves and their connections to others.
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Contemplating the Wisdom of “Your Dream Your Rules.”
15:00In today's episode, we will be contemplating the rules and our responses to them, drawing examples from both professional and spiritual realms. In her professional life, Margaret teaches project management, guiding individuals in planning and implementing various initiatives. In an introductory course, participants often question the necessity of following all the recommended best practices. Margaret explains that while they are not obligated to do so, it is important to be aware of these tools and practices, as you cannot utilize what you do not know exists. By ignoring these tools, you may miss out on valuable insights and potential positive outcomes. Moving on to more advanced discussions, Margaret emphasize the importance of understanding rules before choosing to disregard them. In certain professional settings, there are individuals who can go against organizational culture or policies without facing negative repercussions. These individuals possess a deep understanding of what they are doing and why, exhibiting wisdom in their actions. It is not about rebellious rule-breaking, but rather the discernment gained through experience and knowledge. Now, let us shift our focus to our spiritual practice. Reflecting on our previous episode, where we explored the Noble Eightfold Path, we realize that our Buddhist practice has its own set of rules. However, it is crucial to remember that these rules are not meant for cherry-picking. You may have come across the Kalama sutta, which some individuals use as an opportunity to dismiss Buddhist teachings. This sutta encourages us to question and validate our beliefs through personal experience and wisdom. It highlights the need to be mindful of our intentions and the potential harm that may arise from unskillful qualities. Traditions should not be followed blindly solely because they are traditions, and reports cannot be trusted solely based on the reliability of their sources. Our own preferences should not guide us unless they are thoroughly tested and proven beneficial. It is essential to practice appropriate attention and seek guidance from wise individuals, which we refer to as having admirable friends. In our own journeys of self-discovery, we can benefit from incorporating these ideas into our own practice and rules. Before making decisions, we should inquire about our intentions, consider the likely outcomes, and seek the counsel of those we trust and admire. By doing so, we can cultivate wisdom and make choices that align with our spiritual path.
Overcoming the Four Challenges of Wisdom with the Noble Eightfold Path
15:15Congratulations, after much work, you have reached the mountain top and are wise. Now, all you need to do is sit back, and relax. Enjoy the rest of your time in this life and revel in your wisdom. You know better! Wisdom is challenging to obtain, and requires work to maintain. In our last episode, we gained a shamanic perspective on the four challenges we face as we seek wisdom. Today, we will consider those challenges, and consider some Buddhist teachings on wisdom. Specifically on the Noble Eightfold Path and how sila, samadhi, and prajna support us and sustain us on the path.
Journey to Finding Peace: Exploring Shamanic Practices and the Concept of the Dream
36:47In this episode, Margaret reconnects with Mike Sanders, a shaman who shares his journey and experiences with Native American Indian practices. They discuss how different paths can lead to the same goal of finding peace and less suffering in life. Mike talks about his upbringing and how his Native American heritage influenced his decision to explore shamanism. He shares how he stumbled upon a book on shamanism that resonated with him and led him to practice Native American traditions. Mike also discusses the challenges he faced in being accepted by the Native American community due to his appearance. He eventually embarked on a journey of self-discovery and training in shamanic practices, which gave him the confidence to develop his own ceremonies and practices that resonate with him. The conversation then shifts to the topic of attachment and non-attachment. Margaret and Mike discuss their own experiences with attachment to beliefs and practices when starting their spiritual journeys. They talk about the importance of questioning and validating one's beliefs and staying open to different perspectives. Mike shares a story about the four challenges of wisdom, which include overcoming fear, validating clarity, using power wisely, and accepting one's own mortality. He emphasizes that these challenges must be faced every day and that true wisdom requires constant work and self-reflection. The episode concludes with a discussion on the concept of the dream in shamanism. Mike explains that the Toltecs believed that we dream when we sleep and when we awaken, we continue to dream. He introduces the agreements from the book "The Four Agreements" and how they relate to the concept of the dream, emphasizing the importance of not being affected by others' opinions and actions, avoiding assumptions, clear communication, and always doing one's best. Overall, this episode provides insights into shamanic practices, the challenges of spiritual growth, and the concept of the dream in Native American traditions. Mike's personal journey serves as an inspiration for listeners to explore their own paths to finding peace and less suffering in their lives. Check out a TedX talk with Mike here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=094bnth7EzY And his book Brain Flip here: https://www.amazon.com/Brain-Flip-Challenge-Michael-Sanders/dp/B09Q8YMC3H
The Dance of Rebirth: Reflections on Attachment and Human Connections
8:47In this introspective episode, Margaret delves into the concept of rebirth and its impact on our lives. Initially, rebirth was just a distant belief for her, something she didn't ponder upon often. However, as she immersed herself in the teachings of Buddhism, rebirth started to become something more tangible, something she contemplated deeply. Through her interactions with various Buddhist groups and teachers, Margaret was exposed to intriguing ideas surrounding rebirth. The notion that we have all been in each other's lives across multiple lifetimes, or that unresolved issues with certain individuals persist from one lifetime to another, sparked her curiosity. She even shared a playful exchange with a classmate, joking that he had killed her in a past life, until the weight of its potential truth burdened him. They eventually moved on, but the notion of rebirth lingered in her mind. As she faced the possibility of never seeing certain individuals again, whether due to death or them moving away, she turned to the idea of rebirth as a source of solace. It became a defense mechanism, a way to cope with the attachment she had developed towards these people. The thought that they would meet again in another life eased the sadness within her. However, upon introspection, she realized that this reliance on rebirth was not a reflection of secure attachment. It was merely a tool she used to arrive at a place of secure attachment, as she navigated the complexities of human connections and emotions. Through exploring the lens of connection styles and psychology, Margaret came to understand that clinging to the idea of rebirth to cope with separation does not align with the teachings of Buddhism. In a profound conversation with her teacher, she posed the question of whether it's better to mourn birth and celebrate death, as we shouldn't desire for someone to return. His response challenged her perspective, highlighting the uncertainty surrounding the rebirth of individuals and emphasizing that our ultimate wish should be for liberation from suffering, for an end to the cycle of rebirth. With this newfound wisdom, she realized that she should not use the concept of rebirth as a crutch to ease the pain of someone leaving my life. Instead, she should learn to let go with grace and appreciation for the time shared. Rather than relying on the belief that we will meet again in a future life, she aspires to cherish the present moment and wish them well on their journey, whether it be a favorable rebirth or, even better, liberation from rebirth altogether. Join Margaret on this introspective exploration as she navigates the complexities of attachment and the teachings of Buddhism, and discovers a deeper understanding of how rebirth intertwines with our human connections.
Connection, Attachment, MIndfulness and More!
11:12When it comes to relationships, those with a secure attachment style thrive on honesty, tolerance, and emotional closeness. They possess a beautiful balance of independence and connection, not fearing solitude yet still able to form strong bonds. However, it's important to note that people with other attachment styles can also find happiness in their relationships. It all boils down to understanding ourselves and how we connect with others. To distinguish this concept from Buddhist attachment, we can view this bond or attachment style as a form of connection. As humans, we naturally seek connection with others. Buddhism does not advocate for the absence of connection, but rather the awareness of unskillful attachment. If you find yourself concerned about how you connect with others, mindfulness can be a powerful tool. By observing and understanding your own experiences and triggers in relationships, you can consistently cultivate a secure attachment style. It's important to remember that your way of connecting is not fixed; it can change from moment to moment or based on different relationships and perceptions. Impermanence is a key aspect of this process. One way to approach this is through meditation and contemplation, which can help you identify and alleviate behaviors that lead to suffering. Your attachment style or way of connection can indeed contribute to suffering. By practicing mindfulness off the cushion, you can navigate your relationships with greater self-awareness and adaptability. While the suttas do not explicitly discuss attachment styles, we can glean insights from stories such as that of King Suddodhana, the Buddha's father. In an attempt to prevent his son from becoming a spiritual leader, Suddodhana kept Siddartha sheltered from the world. However, his controlling and unhealthy attachment ultimately led Siddartha to run away and embark on his spiritual journey. Suddodhana's actions reflect a lack of secure attachment. Through self-reflection, mindfulness, and understanding, we can cultivate more fulfilling and harmonious connections in our lives.
Buddhism and Attachment Theory with Bill Belanger
44:19In this thought-provoking podcast episode, host Margaret Meloni interviews Bill Belanger, a contemplative psychotherapist and practicing Buddhist, as they delve into the concepts of suffering, attachment, and emptiness in Buddhism. Bill shares his background as a psychotherapist and his experiences living and practicing Buddhism in Asia, shedding light on the integration of meditation and therapeutic practices into the lives of entrepreneurs to improve their businesses.Bill's website is https://www.integratedmindtraining.com/ The conversation revolves around the Four Noble Truths and their relevance to the human condition. Bill explains how the First Noble Truth, Dukkha, can be understood as reactivity, and the Second Noble Truth as the origin of suffering through craving, attachment, and the Three Poisons. He further emphasizes the cure for suffering and the prescription for finding awakening, which is embodied in the Eightfold Path. Margaret and Bill also explore the Western approaches to suffering and how consumerism and rigid ideology fail to address the core issues of reactivity and attachment. They highlight the comprehensive analysis of suffering provided by Buddhism and its coherent and elegant solution that often eludes other approaches. Overall, this insightful episode offers practical guidance for incorporating mindfulness and therapeutic practices into daily life, while delving into the profound concepts of suffering, attachment, and emptiness in Buddhism. The hosts provide valuable insights and draw connections between attachment theory in Western psychotherapy and Buddhist teachings, underscoring the potential for healing and growth through self-reflection and mindful connection.
Journaling Reflections on Grief, Rituals, and Self-Discovery
7:16Welcome back to the Death Dhamma podcast. Today's episode is a reflective one, and we hope you will find it useful on your own personal journey. In our previous episode, titled "The Kosala Sutta AN 5.49," we explored the various methods and approaches to funerals for Buddhists. We questioned the purpose of these rituals for someone who has already departed, realizing that they often serve as a means to support the grieving process of the living. While these rituals may not directly benefit the deceased, they can provide solace and aid the grief journey of those left behind. This contemplation led me to reflect on the contrasting ways in which we handled the deaths of my mother and my husband. My mother had left behind detailed instructions for every aspect of her funeral, sparing me from any uncertainties or doubts. This approach felt right and was met with no complaints. On the other hand, my husband had instructed a simple cremation and scattering of his ashes at sea, without any formal service. He believed that it was not his responsibility as a lifeless body to comfort others and understood the strain it would put on me. I respected his wishes and followed through with them. Of course, not everyone was content with this decision. Some individuals expressed their disapproval, hoping for a more traditional funeral. However, I stood firm in honoring my husband's wishes, which led me to ponder our tendency to make grief about ourselves. Grief, in essence, serves as a wake-up call, awakening our consciousness to the reality of transition and change. It is through grief that we not only acknowledge the departure of our loved ones but also recognize the transformation within ourselves. Returning to the topic of funerals, we must acknowledge that these rituals serve as milestones in our grief journey and aid the departed in their transition to a more positive rebirth. Whether it be acknowledging a 49-day bardo or conducting chanting ceremonies at specific intervals, these rituals hold significance. However, the question arises when conflicts in wishes occur. Who makes the call? Did my decision to forgo a funeral for my husband deny someone the opportunity to move forward? In hindsight, I discovered that a close friend who couldn't accept the absence of a service for my husband held his own private ceremony. Initially, I felt annoyed, but now I view it differently. He did what he needed to do to address his own grief, and I respect that. Ultimately, each individual is responsible for their own journey and progress. It may seem selfish at first glance, but it isn't. By making choices that strengthen ourselves, we become better equipped to help others. After all, you cannot give what you do not have.
Considering Buddhist Funeral Traditions: The Importance of Rituals in the Grief Journey
18:07In this episode, we explore the different death and mourning rituals of Theravada, Mahayana, and Tibetan Buddhists. These rituals vary in location, customs, and beliefs, but they all serve as a reminder of impermanence and the shared experience of grief. For those who share the beliefs discussed, these rituals hold significance in assisting the deceased's transfer to rebirth and increasing positive karma. However, some may question the necessity of performing these rituals for someone who is gone. It's essential to remember that these rituals can also ease the grief journey of those left behind. The Buddha's teaching on impermanence serves as a reminder that death is a natural part of life and that we will all experience it. The sequenced activities in these rituals help lead individuals, families, and communities through their grief and acknowledge the process. Ultimately, whether you choose to partake in these rituals or not, the question remains, "What important work am I doing now?" It's crucial to focus on the present and continue to live a meaningful life while acknowledging the impermanence of it all.