The Problems with Untimed Meditation

Some people have the practice of meditating without setting a time limit.

There are, however, certain problems with this. The problems arise because, if we meditate until we are too agitated or too dull to continue, then we are only reinforcing agitation and dullness.

It is better to NOT have a harmful or negative mind-state be the determining factor for ending a meditation session. Our minds are tricky and will use this opportunity to generate harmful mind-states and reinforce them.

That’s why it is better to set a time limit. It can even be a limit such as meditating until breakfast or lunchtime or meditating until a guest arrives, anything that is not governed by our state of mind.

Always remember that it is better to have many small sessions than to have a long session with a long gap between. A lot of progress can be made by just 5 or 10 minutes of meditation each day and it helps to always enjoy the practice so that we are tempted to return to it.

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Practice NOW while things are going good!!!

I’ve been learning the hard way over the last few years while dealing with Cancer that it’s important to practice while you’re healthy and things are going well.

When things are going well, we have the time, and especially the energy to devote to meditation to develop calm-awareness and to work on investigating what the teachings mean when they say that suffering begins in a mind full of longing and attachment.

It takes a long time to unravel the ball of string that comprises our attachments. Our habits are insidious and strongly embedded in our psyche. I often say that our minds are like desk blotters and our attachments are like ink that just soaks in and spreads. The problem is that, while things are going well, we are just as happy practicing a little and indulging in our attachments the rest of the time.

All of a sudden, when we are faced with a crisis or with a serious illness or death, we reach for the prayer beads and make all sorts of promises about practicing more. However, the horse has already left the barn in most cases and so, even though we can make some progress, we would have been more able to work with what we’re now experiencing, if we had the calm-awareness, the understanding, and the skills already developed through previous study, contemplation, and practice.

So, this message is to all the younger people who have an interest in the Buddha’s teachings and practices.

Try to spend more time working on these things now – especially contemplation of how these teachings and practices apply to your daily thought, speech, and action.

Contemplating the temporariness of the world and therefore reducing longing and attachment and developing contentment and non-attachment will make it easier to accept and work with any difficult situations we may encounter and help us appreciate all the good things we have, even when things look mostly bad.

Praciticing recognizing the interdependence of things on causes and conditions helps develop patience and perseverance and help us deal with frustration and doubt when we experience it in difficult times.

Spending time contemplating the benefits that we gain from others and how our lives are so intertwined with theirs, helps us develop gratitude, loving-kindness, and compassion, which helps us deal more kindly and effectively with others at a time when we need other’s help the most.

Learning to see that illness, health, pain and pleasure, grief and joy, are all part of an ever-changing and relative world and that our own existence is beyond any one of these circumstances, helps us to maintain our balanced mind even in the midst of our own chaos.

Attaining any of these abilities depends on practicing working with our thought, speech, and action, developing calm-awareness through Shamata meditation, developing an understanding of Relative versus Ultimate existence through Insight meditation, and practicing becoming skillful with others through loving-kindness and Compassion.

There’s a lot to do and a lot of entanglements to untangle. We can all do it, but the sooner we start, the more we will have these abilities when we need them the most.

Good luck to all!!!


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The Four Reliances:

Rely on the Teachings, not just the Teacher.

Rely on the Meaning, not just the Words.

Rely on the Actual Meaning, not just the Interpretation.

Rely on the Experience, not just the Idea.

– The Buddha

10% of the price of any orders from Snow Lion Publications using the links on our website go to the Peaceful Garden Meditation Group.

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Jewish & Buddhist Paths in Relation to Passover

Jewish and Buddhist Paths In Relation to Passover

Larry Reside

April 7, 2012

There are many similarities between the paths of various religions. This is very true when comparing the Path outlined in Exodus which is told in the Passover story and the Buddhist Path.

Often People try to create a passover seder in which they try to define God or divinity in a way that would be pallatible to Buddhists. However, if we really understand Buddhism, we would know that it isn’t really possible. It is also not really necessary.

All that really needs to be done is to tell the passover story and then explain the Spiritual Path outlined in the story and then show the similarities between the Path in Exodus and the Buddhist Path.

The message of Exodus is that, by following the will of God, one will attain liberation from the suffering of Bondage and be led to the promised land. Many people have tried to tell others over the centuries what the will of God is. However, God outlined his will to Moses in the Ten Commandments and so, we follow the will of God by following the Ten Commandments.

Buddhism says that we become Bound to Suffering States of Existence through Longing and Attachment (a kind of self-bondage) and we can achieve Nirvana, or Liberation from this Suffering, by following the Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path starts with 1) Right Viewpoint, which leads to 2) Right Thought, 3) Right Speech, 4) Right Action, and 5) Right Livelihood. These are accomplished by 6) Right Effort, 7) Right Mindfulness, and 8) Right Concentration.

What follows is a chart of the Ten Commandments and the Eightfold Path. In it, I have tried to line up the Buddhist Eightfold Path next to the areas of the Ten Commandments where I think they most closely fit. You can see that, even though there are some differences, there are many overlaps between the two.

The Jewish Ten Commandments of God

compared to The Buddhist Eightfold Path

1) Exodus 20, Verse 2:

I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of Bondage.

v3: Thou shalt have no other Gods before me.

1) Right View:

The World is Impermanent.

The World is unable to provide lasting satisfaction and is subject to suffering.

The World is Interdependent.

The World lacks a separate, underlying Essence or Self.

2) v4: Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

v5: Thow shalt not bow down to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord, thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the 3rd & 4th generation of them that hate me;

v6: and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.

3) v7: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold himm guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
4) v8: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

V9: Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work;

v10: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservent, nor thy cattle, nor any stranger that is within thy gates.

v11: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.

Note: The sabbath is supposed to be reserved for contemplating God’s creation, God’s message, and examining how well we follow God’s will.

6) Right Effort:

Effort to eliminate and avoid non-virtue.

Effort to develop and strengthen virtue.

7) Right Mindfulness:

Developing Alertness in regards to our Bodies, Feelings, Mind, and all phenomena.

8) Right Concentration:

Through meditation to develop Calm-Awareness and Insight into the True Nature of Reality

5) v12: Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land whcih the Lord thy God has given thee.
6) v13: Thou shalt not Kill 4) Right Action:

Do not Kill, but protect Life.

Do not Steal, but practice Giving.

Do not commit Sexual Misconduct, but practice Moral behaviour.

7) v14: Thou shalt not commit adultery
8) v15: Thou shalt not steal
9) v16: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. 3) Right Speech:

Do not Lie, but be truthful.

Do not Slander, but reconcile others.

Do not Abuse or insult others, but provide Encouragement.

Do not Gossip, but speak meaningfully.

10) v17: Thou shalt not covet they neighbour’s house, thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbour’s. 2) Right Thought:

Eliminate Greed & develop Contentment.

Eliminate Anger & develop Patience.

Eliminate Ignorance & develop Right View.

5) Right Livelihood:

Avoid Livelihoods that promote non-virtue and develop a Livelihood that promotes virtue.

In Conclusion, we could say that:

The purpose of the Buddhist Path is to help us avoid and eliminate thought, speech, and action that enslaves us or oppresses others.

The purpose of Passover is to celebrate Liberation and freedom from slavery and to remind ourselves to be alert to avoid and eliminate the things that enslave us and oppress others.

Larry Reside

Visit us on Facebook:!/PeacefulGardenMeditationGroup

The Four Reliances:

Rely on the Teachings, not just the Teacher.

Rely on the Meaning, not just the Words.

Rely on the Actual Meaning, not just the Interpretation.

Rely on the Experience, not just the Idea.

– The Buddha

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Is the Universe Evolving?

Some people claim that the universe is evolving and that we need to align ourselves to evolve with it.

I have been asked if this is true from the Buddhist point of view. In order to answer this, we need to understand that the Buddhist view of the universe is different from that of modern/westernized society.

What is called a universe in the west is called a “World System” in Buddhism. In Buddhism, the actual universe contains an infinite number of “World Systems”. Each of these world systems undergoes an arising, a duration, a disintegration, and a period of dormancy.

These world systems are made up of the Completing Karma and Group Karma of a group of sentient beings that have a common group karma. Within that world system, there are continually beings that are evolving, beings that are devolving, and beings that are staying the same.

World systems are actually created by beings who still have an exaggerated sense of separation between self and other and so are not evolved forms in themselves. It is actually possible to evolve to levels beyond a single world system in the Buddhist Cosmos. The teachings say that, in the higher Pure Form Heavens, beings perceive tens of thousands of world systems. This means that a single being can evolve out of a world system. One reaches the highest Pure Form Heavens by perfecting Loving-Kindness, Compassion, Altruistic Joy, and Equanimity.

The Buddhist Universe contains all of reality and so there is nothing outside of the Buddhist Universe. This also means that the Buddhist Universe is beginningless and endless; it was not created and cannot be destroyed. The Buddha taught that by aligning our view of reality with how the universe actually works (changeable, without permanent satisfaction, interdependent, and relative), we can eliminate compulsively being born in suffering existences.

A very good description of the Buddhist Cosmos can be found in Wikipedia:

I hope that this helps….


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Suffering Exists Even After The Universe Ends

A Student Wrote in:

Could you explain the meaning of the quote please…thanks.

There comes a time when the great ocean dries up and evaporates and no longer exists,
but still I say, there is no making an end of suffering for those beings roaming and wandering onward, hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving.

The Buddha
Connected Discourses on the 5 Collections (Skandas) (22.Khandhasamyutta)
Connected Discourses of the Buddha (Samyutta Nikaya)

Here is my response:

The Buddhist view of the cosmos and of time, space and creation is very vast. It is more vast than anything that I have ever heard anywhere else. In the Buddhist view of creation, there are many world systems within the Buddhist universe. The Buddhist universe is beginningless and endless and what we in the west call a universe is merely a world-system in Buddhism.

Each one of these world systems undergoes a period of arising, a period of maintenance, a period of disintegration and then a gap in creation. This is followed by another arising of a world system from the traces of the previous one. Within the Buddhist Cosmos, this is happening in several locations at the same time. Different world systems are at various points in this arising, maintenance, disintegration and gap (just like we are all experiencing as sentient beings).

This disintegration occurs in several different ways. There is disintegration through the water element, disintegration through the fire element and disintegration through the wind element. It is taught that each world system is destroyed 7 times by water, then 1 time by fire. When this cycle repeats itself 7 times, then there is destruction by wind. Disintegration through the water element (think Noah’s flood) destroys all existence up to a certain level of being. Disintegration by fire destroys all existence up to a higher level of being. At one point in the beginning of destruction by fire, the oceans dry up. Finally, disintegration by wind destroys all existence to a very high level of being. However, there are still levels of being that are not touched by these disintegrations.

The beings who are "destroyed" by these disintegrations are pushed up into higher levels of being. However, they didn’t get there under their own power and they are still under the influence of ignorance of how reality works and they are bound to cyclic existence through longing and attachment (craving and clinging). Because of this, when the force that pushed them into a higher level of being weakens, they then return to lower levels and that is how the cycle of the creation of suffering existence repeats itself.

The Buddha’s point in his quote is that the destruction of lower levels of existence does not end suffering existence forever. Only by eliminating ignorance of the workings of reality and only by getting rid of longing and attachment can you put an end to the cycle of suffering existences, otherwise they will continue to be created. As long as we have ignorance, craving, and clinging, then these types of ways of being will continue to exist beyond the destruction of any world-system.


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The Processes of Birth and Death

A Student wrote in the following question:

I am not clear on the re-birth, re-incarnation process.
How can I best understand it in scientific terms? Or perhaps not even scientific but at least some
sort of idea which I can comprehend or visualize? Is there any information on this? Thank you.

Here is my response:

The process of birth is covered in books called “Lam Rim” which means “Stages of the Path”. My favourite Lam Rims are “The Tibetan Tradition of Mental Development” by Geshe Dhargyey and “The Jewel Ornament of Liberation” by Gampopa. These can be found through Snow Lion Publications.

In describing the process of birth in the chapters on the Suffering of Birth, they describe how the consciousness in the Bardo of Becoming feels restless and even afraid of staying where it is and seeks refuge or a resting place. Once in that resting place, they begin to see couples involved in the sexual act. They feel attracted to a particular couple and then they feel stronger attraction to one of the pair over the other one. They would tend to be attracted to the male, if their tendency is to be born female, and attracted to the female if they would intend to be born male. The being then loses consciousness as the consciousness enters the male through the crown or the mouth and then descends to the sexual organ, where the consciousness then enters the female with the sperm of the male. The consciousness re-awakens during the formation of the fetus and then experiences the creation of the limbs and all of the process of growth and the discomforts of the gestation period, until it once again loses consciousness during the birthing process and then regains consciousness during birth.

As to the dying process, there are several books that can set you on the road to understanding it. First is the commentary in “The Tibetan Book of the Dead” by Chogyam Trungpa and Francesca Freemantle. Then there is “Secret Doctrines of the Tibetan Book of the Dead” by Dietlef Ingo Lauf. There is also “Death, Intermediate State, and Rebirth” by Lati Rinpoche and Jeffrey Hopkins. Finally, there is “Secrets of the Vajra World” by Reginald Ray.

You can find my own summary of these teachings on the process of dying on the Peaceful Garden Website at the following link:

I hope that this answers your questions, please feel free to reply or comment at the bottom of this post.


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My take on Genetics and the Buddhist Concept of Rebirth

I received the following question recently:

As I am reading the 5 Wisdoms, just after the diagram no # 16, in the fifth paragraph the entry of the
consciousness into the fetus is explained. Yet I don’t understand how genetics determine this entry.
How do we connect the genetics of the new fetus to the consciousness that has descended into that
specific fetus. Could you help me understand this please? Thank you. Sophie

Here is my reply:

After the Bardo of dharmata, the consciousness is enclosed in an envelope of the resulting tendencies. These are Mental tendencies and Physical tendencies. It is why, at this point, many descriptions of the 12 links of dependent origination call it Name & Form. Name refers to these Concepts, Volitions, or Mental tendencies, and Form refers to the physical tendencies. They are all tendencies based on the 5 main energies.

These 5 energies become the 5 wisdoms and the 5 neuroses of the Mind and the 5 elements of the Body. Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, and Space become Form (solidity, shape, colour etc), Circulation, Metabolism, Energy, and Size. Included in these tendencies could be the Longing for greater solidity and hence the quest for rebirth in a realm of Form or Sense Desires, such as the human realm.

The attraction towards certain parents includes the attraction to the mental/emotional and physical characteristics of the parents and their living situation. In the same way that a being is attracted to an environment that supports their underlying tendencies, the consciousness is attracted to a genetic makeup within the parents that matches these tendencies as well – So the genetics are merely supports for the already existing tendencies which now surround the consciousness.

It should be noted that, in the same way that some people buy a car based on the size and type of engine and other people buy a car based on the colour and style, so there may be qualities within the parents that go un-noticed within the attracted consciousness, only to be discovered later.

Hope that helps.


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New Years purification and vows for next year

It is common practice to end the year in Buddhism by reviewing our negative actions and promising to try not to do them again as well as doing purification practices such as Vajrasattva Mantras or Prayers to the 35 confession Buddhas in order to reduce the negative effects of these actions. This is often done on the last day of the year.

On the first day of the new year, we retake our precepts and rejoice in the positive actions that we have done in the past year.

I have created a combined ceremony that reviews and purifies negative actions and rejoices in positive actions and retakes our vows. It can be found at the following link:

Please consider doing this practice in order to start the year off on a good footing.

All the Best…..


Visit us on Facebook:!/PeacefulGardenMeditationGroup

The Four Reliances:

Rely on the Teachings, not just the Teacher.

Rely on the Meaning, not just the Words.

Rely on the Actual Meaning, not just the Interpretation.

Rely on the Experience, not just the Idea.

– The Buddha

10% of the price of any orders from Snow Lion Publications using the links on our website go to the Peaceful Garden Meditation Group.

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Instructions for a Retreat on Compassion

These instructions can be used for a 3 day, 3 week, or even 3 months retreat. We will be taking the 3 months of the worst part of winter to go through these teachings.

At the very least, students can take the Friday morning that would normally be reserved for lectures and use that time each week in order to meditate, contemplate, and make notes about your thoughts on the issues in the lecture notes. Otherwise, we can take 2 mornings per week, or every morning during the weekdays, or 1 day each weekend or any other division allowing 1 1/2 to 2 hours for time to meditate and then read, contemplate, and make notes of our impressions about the various aspects of this retreat.

I recommend that you divide the retreat into 3 parts. The first part should focus on contemplating and developing Equanimity. The second part should focus on Gratitude and Loving Kindness. The third part should focus on developing Compassion and moving from Aspiring for Compassionate Action to actually Engaging in Compassionate Action.

During each session, it would be good to think about why you are doing this practice. Even personal Liberation cannot be completely achieved if we do not understand our interconnection with others. Because of this, even on a personal level, we cannot achieve Buddhahood or our own freedom from suffering without developing Loving-kindness, and Compassion as part of our accomplishment.

If we also wish to benefit others, then we need to understand suffering and its causes as they relate to others and therefore we need to develop the skills to understand the world from others points of view. For this we need all aspects of a compassionate mind in order to then skillfully help those in need.

Follow this by 10 to 20 minutes of Calm-Awareness (shamata) meditation and then read either the lecture notes or some other Buddhist text on the topic of this portion of the retreat. At that point, one can take notes or stop to think about how these notes and teachings apply to your own Equanimity, Gratitude, Loving-Kindness, Aspiring and Engaging Compassion, and Generosity. As the time progresses, you should be able to come to some understanding and conclusion about the role of these qualities in your own life.

Remember that we all have BuddhaNature, a basic knowledge and skillfulness, and that because of impermanence and the gap between one thought or activity and another (the Bardo), we always have the possibility of change and improvement. Sometimes change takes time, but with persistence and patience, results will eventually show. The key is to start small and expand and, above all, keep working on it.



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Anger really is like using Explosives

I’ve been thinking that Anger really IS like explosives.

Explosives are not as precise as using a drill or a torch. With Explosives, most of the time, the damage and the hole that is created are bigger than they needed to be. Also, with explosives, things on the sidelines that are not a part of the obstruction get destroyed or damaged in the process. Anger seems to work the same way.

Larry Reside

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