Searching all directions with your awareness, you find no one dearer than yourself...
-Buddha (Ud 5.1)

Why did we create this blog

This blog was created in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in Newtown, USA, where 20 first-graders ages ranging from 6-7 were massacred by an angry 2o year old gunman. This took place on the 14th of December, 2012. We believe if he was taught how to love himself, how to be kind to himself, how to be compassionate to himself and how to appreciate himself, from an earlier age (pre-school) none of these things would have happened. It was a very sad occasion to all of us and it is time now to change its course. We have to acknowledge this happened, forgive the person who did it and learn from this tragedy. -Devni W.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Can we reduce the pain by being kind to it?

Physical pain and mental pain are not the same. It is important to recognize these two as distinct entities. The physical pain of the body is received by the mind. A mind untrained will cling on to the pain with thoughts aversion and will add the second pain in addition to the physical pain. This is the mental pain or suffering. Now you have two pains instead of one.

Buddha explained this very nicely in the Sallatha Sutta. He compares the physical pain to the first arrow and the mental pain to a second arrow. The physical pain we all have to endure. However the mental pain we create due to our own ignorance and it is optional.

Here is a real life story a friend of mine sent me today;

"Some of you may think it is just belief, faith or mere stupidness on my part, nevertheless thought of sharing the most unthinkable experience I recently encountered with all. I had excruciating pain, a very sore and  sensitive stomach. I ended up at the emergency unit. Since the reports were clear, the doctor prescribed some medication and sent me home. During the early hours of the morning  my pain become even greater and I did not have any pain medication with me at the time, even though I had the been prescribed it earlier.

Since I attended the recent meditation retreat by Ajahn  Brahm, I remembered him relating a similar situation with him and how he handled it. Through desperation, I immediately started to focus on the location of the pain, welcome it unconditionally, radiate loving kindness to the pain, allowing the cells in the area to get well oxygenated and let it go. Once my mind was still I was able to focus on my breath.  I used this technique each time I got the pain. Believe it or not I gradually felt my muscles relaxing and the pain reducing too! Even though it took a long time,  I felt the pain reducing more and more until it fully disappeared!!

I sincerely thank Ajahn Brahm for relating the story and teaching the technique and commend Piyal and Indi for opening the door to all of us by bringing such a great teacher.

With great confidence I can recommend it to any novice to try it too ' cos I myself just learnt the correct art of meditation recently, taking baby steps at this point and yet it worked !!!

Best wishes and metta to all

Puri Jayasekera"

Also read/watch:

1.  The story of the two arrows: Physical pain is inevitable but the mental pain is optional

2. Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom

The First and Second Dart , page 49  (Chapter 3) 

3. How to Be Sick: Toni Bernhard, J.D., is a former law professor at University of California at Davis. She is the author of How to Be Sick.

4. Mindfulness can reduce chronic pain :BBC
The theory that meditation can reduce stress, depression and even chronic pain is one that has been gaining in momentum in recent years.
So the BBC's David Sillito has been learning the art of mindfulness meditation in order to find out for himself.
After getting to grips with the activity, he joined some other devotees for an MRI scan to find out what impact the practice can have on brain activity.

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"Ruts" in the mind

Imagine a stream of water flowing over a large rock. Over time it will make small tracks on the rock that will gradually become grooves and eventually become big ruts.  It is similar to what happens in the mind.  The mind learns patterns though our habitual ways of thinking. As we discussed in the last post (How can we train ourselves to be kind and compassionate?what we keep thinking and pondering about becomes the inclination of our minds. If we have thoughts of sensual desires, ill will and harm all the time, that will become the inclination of our mind. The result will be greed, anger and hatred.  If the ruts we have made are deep no matter how we try to pour water on the rock the water will travel only in the direction of the ruts. However the good news is that in the mind we can wipe all these old ruts and make new ones. This requires work. This is the training of the mind through meditation, specifically loving-kindness meditation.  When we have thoughts of non-sensuality (less greed), loving-kindness and compassion that will become the inclination of our mind. This will result in more generosity, loving-kindness, compassion and altruistic joy. Now these "ruts of the mind" will benefit you and people around you.

There is now much evidence in neuroscience to show that we can form new neural pathways according to how we train our minds. This is known as  Neuroplasticity.  Here is some of the latest research to  show how compassion meditation can change your neural pathways in the brain:Imaging finds different forms of meditation may affect brain structure Meditation’s positive residual effects.
Edited by Devni Walpola

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

How can we train ourselves to be kind and compassionate?

Two kinds of thoughts (Please click on the picture to enlarge it)

The mind is a creature of habit. Whatever we pursue with our thinking, and ponder about constantly, becomes the inclination of our mind (see above picture). So it is possible to change our mind with practice and ultimately change our own behaviour pattern, either good or bad (see above the two ways of thinking). We can do it.  It is a matter of actively shifting the thought pattern in the mind, and with practice, speech and bodily action will follow. It would be nice if we can implement thoughts of loving kindness and non-harm in our society too. It will be more effective if we start this at an early age, like an early childhood education program in schools. If this happens in the future, we should see less of these horrible school shootings, murders and other acts of violence plaguing our society today. The key is the practice of loving-kindness.  Whatever you do you are training your mind. Every moment you think a thought of compassion or kindness, it is impossible at that very moment to hate or feel ill-will.  Therefore it makes more sense to take the path of loving kindness, compassion. Simple thoughts of love and kindness will prohibit those of anger and hate.  It will most certainly benefit you and the people around you too.

Even when we train our minds this way sometimes we may get angry or annoyed at others from time to time. How can we subdue anger towards another person when it arises? One way is you can look at the good side of a person, (verbal, bodily or mental behaviour) even sometimes its difficult to find. There has be some good in everybody and if we look hard enough and we will find. This way we can subdue anger towards that person. 

-Aghatavinaya Sutta: Subduing Hatred

There are five ways of removing annoyance (or anger) when it arises in you:

1. "Loving-kindness can be maintained in being towards a person with whom you are annoyed: this is how annoyance with him can be removed'.

2. "Compassion can be maintained in being towards a person with whom you are annoyed; this too is how annoyance with him can be removed'.

3. "Onlooking equanimity can be maintained in being towards a person with whom you are annoyed; this too is how annoyance with him can be removed'.

4. "The forgetting and ignoring of a person with whom you are annoyed can be practiced; this too is how annoyance with him can be removed'.

5. "Ownership of deeds in a person with whom you are annoyed can be concentrated upon thus: 'This good person is owner of his deeds, heir to his deeds, his deeds are the womb from which he is born, his deeds are his kin for whom he is responsible, his deeds are his refuge, he is heir to his deeds, be they good or bad.' This too is how annoyance with him can be

-Aghatapativinaya Sutta

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at the Stanford University School of Medicine

A  Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education has been launched at the Stanford University School of Medicine, with the aim of doing scientific research on the neural underpinnings of these thoughts and feelings.

The anger eating monster

Recently there was a talk which was held at the university of Toronto for about 300 hundred students, that I attended of Ajahn Brahm. The story was so true, powerful and had an impact on my life, thought of sharing with all of you.
" Once there was an ugly, smelly, angry monster who used unpleasant language wanting to enter an emperor's castle. The guards were so scared that they let him in to the castle. Once he was inside, the guards realized what happened and went to chase him away. When they saw the monster seated on the Emperor's throne, they were unkind and abused him. Each time an unpleasant and abusive word was mentioned the monster grew an inch bigger, more smellier, uglier and the words that came from his mouth were a nightmare to hear! The servants in the castle took the same approach of handling the monster as the guards.

Upon the return of the kind and smart emperor, who saw the monster seated on his throne. Instead of being unkind to him he was companionate, generous and kind to him. With each act of his generosity and kind approach the monster shrank and disappeared."

The moral of this story is each time we cultivate anger within ourselves, we are like that monster! The best treatment to conquer anger is with kindness to oneself and others. This story has helped me realize the monster in me, each time I got angry. Now I try to be fully aware when I get angry and calm myself by applying the antidote which is kindness, firstly to myself and then the person that I got angry with. Please try it yourself the next time you get angry because it is perfectly safe and moreover it works!!

Written by Puri Jayasekera
(To listen to this story, click play in a new window in  the link given below)

November 7, 2012 – 7 PM – At the Universtiy of Toronto. Organized by New College, University of Toronto: Buddhism, Psychology and Mental Health Program.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Children are like soft clay...

Children are like soft clay when you are doing pottery. You can mold the pot into any shape or form you want when the the clay is soft and wet. You have to apply sustain pressure over time and you can shape the pot the way you want. Once the clay is hard or baked in an oven, it is almost impossible to change its shape. So it is important to teach children how to practice self loving-kindness, compassion and gratitude towards them from a very early age.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It is a sad day for all of us. What do we do now?


In the wake of Sandy Hook school gun shooting there is so much debate about gun control in the media. More stringent gun control is always a good start. However gun control is just like putting a band aid on a wound.  Unless we address the root cause of violence we are going to see these acts of senseless violence again and again. This time the weapon is a gun. Next time may be it will be a knife or may be even a bomb. Who knows? 

Here is what we have to ask ourselves. What is the origin of violence? All violence stems from greed, hatred and delusion. The three poisons of this world. We need to instill loving-kindness, compassion and gratitude in our children from the start. This should be taught as a compulsory subject to all children regardless of their cultural, religious or social beliefs. It's never too late. 

It is said that this moment is the most important moment. The most important person is the one in front of you. The most important thing to is to care. If this is true, care for yourself first. Look in the mirror for a moment. You are the one in front of you all the time, even when you are alone. Love yourself first. Appreciate yourself first. Value your own human life. Stop expecting too much from you. Say this is good enough. I am happy to be here. I am kind to myself. I am not looking for anything more. By doing this everyday you begin to value your own human life. You will begin to value other human lives too. You will begin to care for others. You will begin to love others. You will begin to appreciate others. You expect less from others. What is done by others is good enough. Life is a precious gift. Do not just throw it away. Please don't harm yourself. And please please never harm anyone else.