Buddhism, Philosophy, Society, Spirituality

Episode 32: Key Buddhist Terminology


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Listen to hear about the practical meanings of:

Emptiness / Shunyata
Non-duality
Nibbana
Dukkha
&
Sankhara

Death & Rebirth, Interview, Philosophy, Society, Spirituality

Episode 31: Near-Death & New Life Experience — Interview with Artisha Bolding


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I am always amazed by near-death experiences, because they are so prominent throughout all cultures and they really show what it means to be a human being on this plane. We all have different notions about what happens after death, and it is our right to explore this realm, because this is a fate that is inevitable for all of us. Here is what I have found, so far, about near-death experiences and experiences leading up to death:

  • The cultural background one is born into factors heavily in the experience; if somebody was raised a Christian, she is more likely to meet Jesus or see relatives in a “heaven” landscape. If the experiencer is from India, she may see Krishna or interpret the light as Brahman. This is also the case for many psychadelics/entheogens. The experiencer, dependent on her own individual make-up, will tend to have a trip to suit whatever makes up their mind’s experiences.
  • On a similar note, friends and family are often found to appear. The onlooker, a nurse or even living family members in the room with the dying person, are likely to pass these off as “hallucinations”, yet they are more-real-than-real to the dying. Strange sounds and frequencies, sights, and smells that are not normally sensed are presented to the dying — as are changes in behaviour that might seem strange to those familiar with the dying person.
  • Preparations for death are quite natural and normal. For example, The Tibetan Book of the Dead is a manual specifically laid out for a smooth journey to the other side so one is not bewildered and afraid of the death experience. The book even outlines the specific “hallucinations” and changes in behaviour, breath, body, speech, and actions of the dying so relatives and friends can ease them into the next and pretty foreign realm!

Along with these, the experiencer normally comes back with a new take on life and what they have been avoiding or not paying enough attention to. These can pull the person back on the right path and give them a whole new set of lungs! This is what happened to Artisha — I explain it as her spirit being reinvigorated and recharged to the illumination of the important while she is still in this physical body. And it’s really a blessing that she is still in this physical body, because she has used her near-death experience to make changes in her work life that spread into the world through media/broadcasting.

Meet Artisha at www.tboldmedia.com and feel free to contact her with your thoughts.

Anthony Chene Productions’ channel on Youtube is also an outstanding place to hear some amazing near-death experiences, presented in a clean and clear way.

Buddhism, Death & Rebirth, Guided Meditation, Hinduism / Sanatana Dharma, Philosophy, Society, Spirituality

Episode 24: Gentle Guided Meditation on Death


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What does death feel like? Surely, no one of us knows: but we have our imaginations to help us find out.

One of the four noble truths is that life is suffering (or dukkha), if it is taken wrongly. Almost all of us have a wrong view of both life and death, because they are mostly left unexplored due to intillectual fear. Liberation from fear can be achieved either slowly along a Buddhist path or rather quickly, as in the case of Pratyekabuddhas (or lone Buddhas) who awaken spontaneously and without effort. With a little patience and perseverance, awakening can be achieved, including the reminder that life is fragile, will end for all of us, and no one is immune to Samsara.

Along with the four noble truths, another truth that we can see very clearly is that all beings who ever have lived and who ever will live, will pass away. This can be explored before the big annhilation if we choose — and it is very healthy to ponder, contemplate, and wonder about truth. We don’t need excuses as to why “we shouldn’t look at that” or “we shouldn’t talk about that” or even “we shouldn’t think about that“.

If it is an experience of the human kingdom, either psychologically or societally, then it is fair playing ground to explore.

Depression has been explored… anxiety and a whole host of mental ailments are being explored… the expansion of consciousness through entheogenic plant medicines is explored… sexuality… personal identity… climbing the highest mountains and looking through the deepest jungles… so why not explore our own deaths along the way?

Often our deepest fears are rooted in habitual tendencies linked to negative experiences in the past or the unknown and intangible future.

Let’s explore these together, if they come up, in this gentle guided meditation on death.

May all beings be happy; may all beings be free from suffering. May all beings be peaceful; may all beings be free!

With love and gratitude for my life and yours,
Jnana B

Buddhism, Death & Rebirth, Philosophy, Society, Spirituality

Episode 22: The Cycle of Birth, Death, & Caffeination

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It occured to me that I am in the cycle of birth, death, and caffeination. The first two are inevitable, and the second is my choice.

Coffee is like a grounding force inside my consciousness: as black, without sugar, maximum three and minimum one cup per day. It’s an ironically bitter, valuptuous, force that gets us legally high and becomes a staple in the day of multiple days.

We all have at least one idea or perception that we cling to, forcefully, as if it’s our last breath. Like that man who laid down to die with £20 in his hand, hoping he could still spend it.

In this episode, we go over some of the pitfalls of waking up — including why we don’t automatically fall into that state of non-dual awareness we are after.

The episode and my blog, here down below, are different. Here, this blog goes lightly into the deep edge of how the mechanism works to keep us from waking up. My episode goes hand-in-hand, speaking more personally and intuitively about this mechanism, so have your go at both!

As always, here we go…

The mind is a big player in the game of life, and she has been switched on since our birth, creating our physical and mental perceptions, our ideas about life, abstractions, responses to pain and pleasure, and pretty much every other facet of our personality we take for granted. This is the bubble of “me”, and everybody lives in their own; indeed, a person from the UK has mightily different values from somebody residing in the Amazonian jungle! For example, I have had the belief instilled in me that hard work pays off, and we must work hard for our money. Deep inside there somewhere is also the basic belief that if I’m not busy enough, then I’m not worth enough. The first is completely cultural and came from an idea my parents had from their parents whereas the second is personal and family-orientated (meaning that not all people in the UK follow that basic belief). So beliefs and perceptions can range widely from the societal level down to the personal level, and each individual becomes completely unique in their viewpoint of the world and themselves to try to make sense of what is going on their “screen”.

The screen of consciousness is not normally seen as a screen but as a true and accurate projection of what’s taking place. Whether that be sight, sound, emotion, or a recurring situation (potty training your kid, perhaps, or going to the gym like it’s a religion), we believe it’s all real and we’re in control of making the whole thing up.

That’s partially true. We have decided to make it all up, but not from “our self” — but from the standpoint of Awareness itself — which is responsible through all our life changes from birth until death. But we don’t recognise that. When we’re in the thick of it, we carry all our projected baggage and see mostly endless rows of bags: essentially, the construction of the self.

The easiest portion of ourselves to cling to is our body — if we have any doubt we exist, we can rely on our body to confirm that we do. (Deep sleep, comas, and being under aneasthetic cause loss of awareness of the body lead us to believe we don’t exist for a while. Think about that!)

So our brain sort of hallucinates a basic self-image into our consciousness that stays with us for a matter of time — until it changes, eventually. Maybe once we viewed ourselves as a serious person and now we’re a relaxed person. We had a different self-image when we were 16 than when we were 26. It’s all relative and constantly changing, but if we can’t see that that is the case, then we can “get stuck” in ideas about ourselves that no longer serve us. It happens all the time.

But I believe that consciousness is always looking to expand its awareness, capabilities, and smash down limitations of the mental, physical, and spiritual realms; we let go from time to time. It’s just that the ultimate smash-down is the death of the ego itself. And that is not going to happen overnight. So we have to be aware of the fact that there will be limitations and setbacks. This is a natural part of the awakening process, so don’t give up!

Maybe that’s why Buddhists says it might take lifetimes…

Buddhism, Death & Rebirth, Philosophy, Society, Spirituality

Episode 20: Buddhism is not a Religion!


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Buddhism is not a religion.

That’s a bold statement, considering the sheer volume of monasteries, Buddha statues, and complex practices embodying Yidams, Devas, Mandalas, and Incense. Not to mention carefully laid precepts and the Noble 8-fold path… which sounds like the Christian ladder to heaven, doesn’t it? It does, until we discover for ourselves what Buddhism embodies. Like Christ was a man and the term “Christianity” came after him, so has “Buddhism” come after the Buddha. Buddha is not worshipped as some God we cannot be, but as an inspiring human being who has lived in our not-so-recent-past, engaged in unfathomable amounts of unconditional compassion for others. He came to embody “enlightenment” or “awakening” by figuring out the true purpose of life and passing it on.

There is historical evidence of this right here, folks.

This is from an article you can look up online called “Footprints in the Dust: A Study of The Buddha’s Travels”: the Buddha walked on foot for 40 years, without sandals, in the Indian heat and mountains, mixing with everyone, including dangerous individuals, until he was 80 years old and died of food poisoning. He slept on the ground, sometimes in the winter frost.

When a man found the Buddha sleeping underneath a tree, without a blanket in winter, he asked, “do you need anything? Are you happy?” The Buddha replied, “Yes, I am happy”, and went back to sleep.

He covered 200,000 square kilometres of Indian territory in his life, just to teach about compassion. He taught most days of his life and woke up at 4am, meditating first thing and looked for beings who needed help in his meditation. He would then feed others or beg for food himself after this. He walked, ate, meditated, slept, and taught, day-in and day-out. Is this inspiring, or what?

If people thought they loved Michael Jackson, think of the constant selfless service the Buddha engaged in just to help others. Wow.

Please listen above to find out more…