Western Resolution meets Eastern Resolve

Resolve, according to Mirriam Webster is an act of determination; synonym is courage.
Courage: from Anglo-French curage, from coer heart, from Latin cormore at Heart: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.
Heart: the emotional or moral as distinguished from the intellectual nature: as
a: Generous disposition: Compassion (a leader with heart)
b: Love, Affection (won her heart)
c: Courage, Ardor (never lost heart).

As I listen to friends and family making their New-Years Resolutions I’m encouraged to re-establish my own (and much in process) resolve. Like Calvin to Hobbes I’ve found help from wiser folks than myself. Ahhhh the web, how do I thank thee?

Resolve or Determination as a Western habit is most often emphasized during the season of the New Year . . . speaking from my own experience, my Western mind-set can barely manage even this much frequency. Ah but take heart,  is also one of the Ten Perfections listed in the Pali Canon, the scriptures of the Theravadin teachings. In the Pali language the perfection of resolve/determination is “Adhitthana Parami”.

Ajahn Sucitto and Ajahn Thanissaro both offer guidance when exploring or undertaking these virtues. They describe in detail how Adhitthana is nurtured and applied. Given that a study shows a pathetic 12% likelihood of success rate for new resolutions to last even one year, it seems most of us could use a bit of help from our friends . . . might as well listen to some wise ones.

Ajahn Sucitto’s mp3 Dhamma talk “Adhitthana Parami

Ajahn Thanisarro’s study guide on “The Ten Perfections

Cheers to keeping your New or Old resolutions! And just for fun, here’s a hint to my re-Newed Years resolution: (not a pretty picture but certainly familiar.

Click here to enlarge Comic Strip

Dancing with the Tyrant

“It was Christmas and the foreign monks had decided to celebrate it. They invited some laypeople as well as Ajahn Chah to join them. The laypeople were generally upset and skeptical. Why, they asked, were Buddhists celebrating Christmas? Ajahn Chah then gave a talk on religion in which he said, “As far as I understand, Christianity teaches people to do good and avoid evil, just as Buddhism does, so what is the problem? However, if people are upset by the idea of celebrating Christmas, that can be easily remedied. We won’t call it Christmas. Let’s call it ‘Christ-Buddhamas’. Anything that inspires us to see what is true and do what is good is proper practice. You may call it any name you like.”

My husband Alistair and I were meant to fly out of Portland today, heading to his family’s home in the highlands of Scotland. Like thousands of other Holiday travelers we fell victim to the “Snow Storm of the Century” (which by the way is the second one this decade). So we spent the day dancing with the winter tyrant who, it seems, had much to offer once preferences were put to rest.

Fish Tails

Walking on the beach just as the Pacific tide turns back in on itself I lower my big stick to a meandering drag. Emotions settle from an off-key choral to a steady hum as my eyes lift off from the sandy shore. My visual path upward gets caught in a glint on a rocky dune. “Has someone lost a jeweled necklace or perhaps here lies a bottle broken?”

A birseye view lands on the gaze of what appears a living fish. Stooping down to scoop it up I jiggled its mouth to look for any sign of life or muscular reaction. None. I smell it, no scent of death. Stiff? No, and the eyes are perfectly clear of shadow or distance, it actually appears to be looking back at me. It’s scales were even damp and yet it lay a full hundred feet from the outgoing sea.

I lay it on a rock and just as I did with my brother and my aunt I bid the wee soul a safe journey and a fortunate sojourn. “May your heart remain open, your fears meet with calm and your travels land you in a pleasant abiding.”

Letting Go

Ajahn Sucitto says:

From an article titled “What You Take Home with You
“…Time then is a measure of desire – desire for continuity, desire for a certain outcome. It paralyzes us into expectation and anticipation or dread and worry. We skip over the present moment and get lost in something we imagine is out there in the virtual reality we call the future.”…

“The capacity to live in uncertainty, with anicca, can be a great help. We develop the capacity to live without a future, without knowing. But it’s not about imagining that there will be no future…that’s another expectation about the future. No, the skills that you develop in being fully tuned in to the present and meeting and managing what arises will support a future based on clarity and balance. The future arises out of the conditions in the present, so when you handle the present with mindfulness, the future will be conditioned by awareness and joy rather than by anxiety and bias. Joy comes from the initiative and the courage to meet the inconstant and the uncertain. Take those with you too!”

And then there was Light