Six Realms Examples

Six Realms Examples (from MUB05: Monsters Under The Bed (retreat) 00:07:57.00 - 00:32:55.00)

(download into iTunes)

For the Six Realms,
- Hell
- Hungry Ghost,
- Animal,
- Human,
- Titan,
- God,
a guided meditation by Claudia Hansson to help us detect the operation of the six realms in our ordinary lives:
Claudia: Okay, as Ken mentioned, what I’m going to do is try and do a guided meditation with you. So, I’d like you to get into a posture that’s comfortable. For this, I would recommend probably closing your eyes.

Ken: [Whispering] Don’t forget to keep your voice down low, because your voice tends to drop when you do get [unclear].

Claudia: [Responding to Ken] Okay.

Claudia: So, let’s begin simply by moving our attention to the breath; feeling the body come to rest. Feeling relaxation in your shoulders, in your arms. Noticing and experiencing the breathing happening in the body; how the breath moves, naturally, on its own. You don’t need to control it. Finding its own pace. Now we’re going to shift our attention, keeping the breath in our awareness.

We’re going to imagine beginning our day in the hell realm. The alarm goes off; that’s your first irritant. You slam your hand down on the top of it. The alarm clock falls on the floor. You drag yourself out of bed, take your shower, get dressed. Go to have cereal and open the refrigerator, and one of the kids drank the last of the milk. You feel in the pit of your stomach a fire starts to burn. Your body starts to tighten up. You kind of slam the refrigerator door, grab a piece of toast, and out the door you go.

You get in your car. You notice it’s raining. That really pisses you off. It’s going to slow the traffic down. You make your way to the closest Starbucks to grab some coffee. You’re standing in line. There’s a high school kid in front of you. A bunch of the kids’ friends walk in the door and join ahead of you in the line. [Laughter] Now the fire in you just surges up. [Laughter] The world is out to get you. You finally get your coffee.

You get in your car. You grip the wheel. You feel tightness in your chest. Your shoulders are rigid. You try and keep a space between you and the next car. Because it’s raining. And every time you have a space, somebody cuts in right in front of you. You know they think they’re better than you.

You make your way to work. You get to work. And of course, the person that you least want to see is right in your face. And so you begin your day rigid, stuck—body angry and hot. Nothing is very pleasant about this life.

So, take a couple breaths. We’re going to begin the day again, shifting to the hungry ghost realm. The first thing you hear in the morning is one of the kids yelling, “Where’s the cereal? I can’t find the cereal! We’re out of milk!” Right away there’s kind of a wrenching. You feel your day hasn’t even begun, and somebody wants something from you. You need a little peace and quiet. You have a sense you’re not going to get it. While you’re in the shower, your partner comes in, tries to have a conversation with you. Complaining that you’re spending too much time at work, “We’ve got to have a conversation about things.”

You just want to get to work, but all these people want something from you. You feel a deep hunger in your body already, and the day has barely begun. You get in the car to go to work. You just really want a little peace. Everybody around you wants something from you. You get to the Starbucks. All the kids—happy, talking—they don’t pay attention to you. They’re not going to give you the time of day. A person in line at the Starbucks screws up your coffee drink; that’s not going to help fill you up very much.

The need in your body is starting to ache. Your need is growing stronger as you jump in the car. Nothing seems to make you feel full. It’s like your life is a bottomless pit. Everyone around you wants something from you, and you can’t get what you need. You feel the strain as you get in the car to drive. You go to pull into a parking place; somebody beats you in. They even want your parking place now. You are hungry. You just want to survive. You just want to get your coffee, get to work, do your job, and even that isn’t working very well.

The first thing in the door at work somebody comes at you with a pile of work that they want done. You want to explain that you need some time to catch up on all the backlog at work. But you know it’s hopeless. You’re never going to get caught up. You’re never going to feel like it’s done. That need is just going to keep growing. And that’s the way your day is.

So, take another breath or two. Now we’re going to be shifting into the animal realm. Your alarm goes off. You turn it off. It’s just another day. You feel, “Oh well, I’ve got to survive here. Nothing very interesting going on.” You take your shower. You eat the same thing every day for breakfast. You go outside and you notice it’s raining. “Oh well.” [You] get in your car. You drive to the Starbucks. You don’t even notice that the school kids are jamming in line in front of you. You just want your coffee. Your body feels heavy, dull, nothing coming in, nothing going out. You’re just doing what you have to do. You can’t feel your heart. You can’t feel much of anything.

You pretty much ignore everything that’s going on around you. You put your body in autopilot, and you drive to work. You don’t know what you passed. You don’t even notice when somebody pulls in front of you. If you need to put on the brakes, you put on the brakes. You can’t really afford to have your car wrecked, so you do what you have to do to survive here. You manage to get yourself safely to work. The same people are there, day after day. The same annoyances. “Oh well.” Your body’s just kind of numb. You don’t really care much one way or the other. You just do what you have to do to survive, from moment to moment.

Take another breath. Now we’re going to begin in the human realm. You wake up in the morning. You go to give your partner a hug. Just want to feel that connection with that person. And they kind of stiffly hug you back and say, “I…I had a really bad night.” [Laughter] And right away, you kind of notice a little ache in your heart. It’s like, “Well, that didn’t feel very good.”

But that’s kind of the way it is in the human realm. If you have kids, you send them off to school. They’re already fighting. You look up at the sky and you notice it’s raining, and you say, “Well, I’m glad it’s raining. It’s been dry around here. Feels kind of good.” And you get in your car, and the first thing you notice is there’s a bad accident on the road from the rain. And kind of a sadness moves over you. Kind of sinks into your body. You know somebody’s suffering. You feel some empathy that somebody’s life is going to be messed up for a while one way or the other.

You go to the nearest Starbucks. You have a clerk there that you kind of feel a connection with. So you kind of like that person…you have a little conversation with him. And they do a better job of making your coffee drink, so you’d really like to have them wait on you. So you kind of pace yourself so you know that that person’s going to be the one, so you can have that little conversation that makes you feel good in the morning. And a bunch of the school kids come jamming in the door and kind of screw up your whole plan. And you get the other clerk that isn’t very friendly and that doesn’t make you such a great drink. You kind of sigh, and you kind of feel that in your body. You sort of missed that connection. There’s a little bit of sadness there.

You get in the car. The commute traffic’s really bad, people are jamming in all around you. You can feel yourself kind of getting frustrated with the whole situation. But you know, that’s kind of the way it is. Some days are better; some days are really crummy. You get to work. And you have people that you really care about at work that you’re really connected with. And one of those people comes up to you and says, “I need to talk to you for a few minutes.” Sits down and tells you that they’re moving on. They’re going to move out of town. They’re going to be quitting their job, and they’re going to be going away. You feel in your body right away that sense of loss. You know it’s hard to keep those friendships active when people leave. Your heart aches a little bit. You start grieving before the person even leaves.

And that’s the way it is in the human realm. You want those connections. You want to have a little fun, a little enjoyment in life. But nothing is permanent, and things constantly keep shifting. And a lot of sadness sort of flows in and through your body.

So, take another breath.

Now we’re going to begin the day in the titan realm. You wake up. This is an important day. You need to get to work. You’re going to be doing a presentation. And you’re going to be really good at it, because you want that next promotion. So you’re all business this morning. You get yourself dressed and you pick your clothes just right, so you’ll look really good. You grab something quick to eat. You notice it’s raining, but you’re not concerned. You know you can handle that. You feel strong. Your body feels good. You feel a sense of power moving through your body. You get in your car. You notice there’s maybe an accident on the road. And you think, “Well, those people probably weren’t paying attention. But I’m careful, I can do this.”

You get to Starbucks to get your coffee. Bunch of school kids start to cut in on you. You just walk right in front of them. [Laughter] You’re powerful. You’re not going to put up with that. You get your coffee. You make sure it’s made the way you want it. Because you tell the clerk that’s making your coffee exactly the way you want it—so it’s right.

You get behind the wheel of your car. You feel good. You feel strong. And then you look over in the lane beside you, and you see somebody with a brand new, beautiful Lexus convertible. And there’s a little pain that rises up, cause you know you’re not quite at the top yet. You’re good. And you’re going to do it. But that person, they probably’ve got it. So there’s a little bit of envy that starts to move in your body. And you can feel that. It’s like a burning desire.

You want it all. This is a juicy world. And you want to get it. So, you’re moving with all the energy you can bring to force to get what you want. And you’re pretty much going to step on anything in your way. So, there you are in the rain in your car. Somebody starts to hedge in. “Oh no, that’s not happening in my lane!” You step on the gas, and you move forward. And you feel that kind of surge of pleasure that comes up when you’ve done it. You aced them out! And it feels really good.

You get to work. And you get ready for your presentation. And another person who’s doing a presentation the same day—and you know they’re your competitor—and you kind of look to see what they have. And you kind of notice that one of their ideas is pretty good. So, you tell them, “Oh, that’s, that’s…yeah, that’s good…” You don’t say too much. But when you get in to do your presentation, you just casually bring out that idea into your presentation. You steal their thunder, and you do it really well. So when they get ready to make theirs, they’ve sort of lost their little pitch. When it’s over, you feel really good. Because you know you were the shining star that day. And that’s how your day goes in the titan realm.

Take one more breath.

Move into the god realm. You don’t have an alarm clock. The cook’s already in the kitchen, taking care. The nanny’s dealing with the children. You don’t have to worry about that. You just wake up naturally in the morning. You run the company. So you get in when you feel like getting in. You feel a sense of real luxury around you. You take your time getting dressed. You have a huge walk-in closet. Lots of shoes and lots of clothes to choose from. You take whatever you need, whatever you want. You’re very confident. You know that what you do is really good. You get yourself dressed.

You get in your luxurious car. Or if you don’t feel like driving, you have your personal assistant drive you to work. When you get to work—you run this company. Your decision is always the right decision. You’re confident and you know it. In your body there’s a sense that you’re just on top of the world. You don’t notice who works around you. You don’t have to go to Starbucks, because people bring you coffee. So you don’t have to stand in any lines.

This is the god realm. Everything is wonderful. And you feel that surge all through your body. You’re right. You know it. You don’t have to listen to anybody else. And you don’t. And that’s the way your day is in the god realm.

Take a few moments to come back to your breath. And gently open up.


Change and Impermanence

From: Monsters Under the Bed 2 (retreat)

Full transcript
Ken: This morning, we talked about basic meditation, and as Claudia said, “Basic in the sense that it’s fundamental.” Because any kind of internal work requires a certain ability or capacity for clear, stable attention. And in some respects you can regard resting meditation like scales in music: You never actually play scales in a concert, but the more you practice scales, the better your musicianship becomes. And it’s very, very much about building capacity.

This afternoon, we now begin the content topic of the retreat, Monsters Under the Bed. And we’re going to use a certain framework for this which actually comes from the four noble truths: what’s the problem, what’s the genesis of the problem, what’s the solution, and how do you do it? So, this afternoon we’re going to be focusing on the problem, and George is going to start off with that.

George: Yeah, I was going to say it’s amazing how we think alike, but maybe it has more to do with the fact that you trained me. I was going to start with the four noble truths too since that’s where the Buddha started. Why not?

What is it that causes the confusion and struggle in our lives? It’s separating ourselves from experience and then reacting against it or reacting to it. So the second noble truth is that the cause of suffering, of struggle is thirst, tanha, craving. That thirst that can’t be satisfied. I think that’s really short-hand for thirst or pushing. It’s either grasping or pushing something away or ignoring, you know. Those are the three ways of reacting. There’s infinite varieties in those three ways. But going back to the body again, it starts with sensations.

We’re sitting here. We’re sitting in our bodies. We can feel the weight of our body on our cushion. We can feel the movements and sensations of breathing. We feel warmth or cold. We feel hungry or full. We feel tired or jumpy. Whatever it is. There’s a cluster of sensations, movements of energy in the body.

One or more of those sensations, we suddenly decide, we don’t like. We feel it’s happening to us. Or, we like it and we want to keep it going. So the first sign of the struggle is an impulse to grasp something or to push something away. Or if it’s not one of those, it’s, “Ah, it doesn’t matter.” Or, "I didn’t even notice it in the first place, cause I’ve just got tunnel vision." So, the emotional drama, the stories, the beliefs, the character stuff that we kind of cement down comes afterwards.

At first there’s an impulse. There’s a physical impulse coming out of the body or moving in the body, a movement of energy. And you can call it attachment and aversion and delusion. Or you can call it craving and ill-will and ignoring. But I like to get even underneath those words. What does it feel like to see something, to feel something that you like? And there’s just that impulse to reach out and grab it, to keep it, to bring it, control it. Or something arises you don’t like. Before you even think about it, way before there’s stories and thoughts or emotional dramas about it, there’s a impulse to push it away or to back up, to get away.

Ignoring, the impulse to ignore, is a little harder to notice, but it too has a physical sensation to it. It has a energetic movement to it. It’s the movement of collapsing in. Losing the sense of space in the room or the sense of space and movement--the vastness of my body, the fact that the kink in my neck can hurt over here. And yet my legs are pretty relaxed today 'cause there’s a lot going on. There’s a vastness. When we ignore something, we close down to something, and everything else disappears.

So one way of working with this, rather than wrestling with the emotional dramas and the thoughts and the beliefs and all the stuff that gets built on those impulses, is to notice the impulse itself when it arises. In a sense, you’re not doing it. It’s certainly nothing you decide to do. It’s something that arises inside. It’s something that happens, a movement of energy. Again, it’s reaching out to grasping something you like, pushing something away you don’t like, or ignoring.

And then the reaction builds on that. It cascades. There’s additional reactions. Like, something you don’t like--impulse to push it away. A belief that you ought to get used to it or you ought to learn to like it, so then you start reacting against the impulse to push it away. And then you’re kind of simultaneously feeling guilty and resentful that the whole thing’s happening. And then you've got to deal with it and that’s where we get lost in it.

But if you can go back to that original impulse to grasp or push away, it’s kind of the counterpart in action to returning to the body. Feeling the sensations and movements of breathing rather than arguing with yourself or worrying about emotions and drama and thoughts. Just going back to the body. Going back to the sensations and movements that are driving those thoughts and emotions.

So, confusion, struggle is caused by the impulse to react to what we experience. What is it that we’re trying to do? What is it we’re trying to get by reacting? Something happens we don’t like, we want to get rid of it. Something happens we do like, we want to hang onto it. We try to hang onto something, we’re ignoring the fact that everything changes. Some things change faster than others, but everything changes. Sensations, feelings, thoughts arise. They pass away. Some of them don’t pass away fast enough for us, so we’re basically fighting the fact that everything changes.

It also works the other way: The things we like, we want to keep them around. So we’re fighting the fact that everything changes. We want that sunset to last forever. Or we go on retreat and at first it’s horrible. And we just want to get out of here. But by the end of the weekend, we’re sort of liking the simplicity of it. And the fact that we don’t have to answer the phone and suddenly now we want it to keep going. So, we’re fighting the passage of time, the arising and subsiding of feelings, sensations, events.

Another thing that we’re struggling with is to get our emotional needs met. Whatever they are or whatever we think they are. Another reaction is to survive, to build a sense of self in relation to meditation practice or to a relationship. So, Ken and Claudia will be talking about trying to get our emotional needs met. And trying to hang onto things, make things solid. But I’d like to focus on the change.

Change and impermanence is in traditional Buddhism--it’s not very popular in Western culture--but in traditional Buddhism, probably the number one form of practice is contemplation on death and impermanence. You need some basic stability of attention, some basic mindfulness to be able to do that. So you learn--as Ken said--you build some capacity in that first.

But then often the first practice that you do for a period of time is on change and impermanence. And of course the big one for humans is the impermanence of our lives. If everything depended on the moment of death as some Buddhists have it--I have trouble with that myself, because I have a hard time being inspired and focused and maintaining motivation for some theoretical moment that’s going to happen in the future.

But change is happening constantly. Happening in our bodies, happening in our emotional experience, happening in our thoughts, happening in the world around us. We tend not to notice it. We grasp after what we like, try to hang onto that. We push away what we don’t like, try to get rid of it as quickly as possible. And we ignore the basic fact of change--constant but irregular change that’s actually taking place. That our experience arises due to causes and conditions, a few of which we have some influence over. And it subsides for the same reason--causes and conditions fall apart.

You can approach it philosophically like that and then go through your life systematically trying to find things. What actually lasts in my life? Some things last longer than others. But what is actually dependable, reliable—it’s going to be there forever. Try to find something. That’s kind of a contemplative or philosophical approach.

But a more immediate way and one that might be more useful in the context of the practices for this retreat is to notice those reactive impulses as they arise, at the moment they arise in the body. The actual sensation, the movement in the body, of pushing away or grasping. Start with those. Begin to notice those. How they happen moment after moment with practically everything that arises in experience. We like it and we grasp it. Or we don’t like it, we push it away. Or it doesn’t mean anything to me, so I’m going to ignore it.

Watch those impulses. And see how many of them are an impulse to do away with time. The passage of time, the flow of things, whether slow or fast. Whatever the causes and conditions of things arising, occurring at the moment. See how many of those impulses are to try to fight that.

And for now just notice the impulse rather than go to philosophy or try to change the impulse. But since my theme is usually the body--to actually notice, acquaint yourself with that process. And keep it as visceral and physical and--not concrete--but real in the sense that it’s actually something arising.

I have an impulse to continue talking, but I think I won’t. [Laughter]


The Capacity to Feel

The Capacity to Feel (from Sutra Session 20 00:48:58.00 - 00:57:02.00)

(download into iTunes)

Eight minutes about
  • the capacity to feel,

  • "feel whatever arises, don't believe any of it",

  • "we move into victim when we believe them" (our feelings),

  • Toltec teaching and book - Be impeccable with your Word,

  • doubt: "great doubt, great awakening; little doubt, little awakening; no doubt, no awakening",

  • "I am not able to handle it" - no, it is about "how are you are going to do it, we don't have any choice to it", and the

  • experience of life, what do you do with it, be an active agent: "oh, I can't be an active agent there", "first I have to be able to experience it ... that's where it starts".
Finally, this is non of Ken's teachings, but I hope he also finds this slogan by Scott Campbell funny:

Zurich, Paradeplatz, 2012-02-21


Guru Yoga prayer and Four Instructions of Gampopa

In this clip, Ken McLeod translates the Guru Yoga prayer as he recites it in Tibetan. His translation in the talk is a bit different than the translation published here.

For instance, the second line "Give me energy to be free of need" could also be "Give me energy to be free of the pointlessness of life.

The third line "Give me energy to stop ordinary thinking" could also be "Give me energy to let materialistic thoughts go."

The clip ends with the Four Instructions of Gampopa.

Prayer (from Sutra Session 7 00:32:58.00 - 00:36:22.00)

(download into iTunes)


Giving up hope and fear

Hope and Fear (from ATPII05: A Trackless Path II (retreat) 0:19:39.09 - 0:23:22.20)

(download into iTunes)
Joan: I'm motivated. I put a lot of effort into my practice and my question is, when is the end of reactive emotion?

Ken: Line two, verse three, Reactions are endless. It's about hope and fear isn't it? What are hope and fear? 
Joan: One is what we grasp for, the other is what we try to avoid.

Ken: Yes. What would your practice be like if you let go of hope and fear?

Joan: Probably blissful.

Ken: Maybe.

Ken:  Try again. If I may, I'll just up the ante a little bit. Okay? Nothing is ever going to change in your practice for the next 20 years. Do you still practice?

Joan: Knowing me, yes. It's the only thing that makes sense.

Ken: There you go. You just gave up hope and fear. It's actually a really, really important point. And always come back to that. It's the only thing that makes sense right now. So what happens in the future is actually inconsequential. It's a very, very tough instruction, but you arrived at it yourself, so you're stuck with it! It's not an easy one, but it's a very, very useful one. Okay?


The four forces

The four forces (from AFB04 00:16:42.70 - 00:27:40.10)

(download into iTunes)
Student: I wasn't going to share something but I think I will. The point that I would like to make...during a battle in World War II a friend of mine took my place and was shot to death, and bled to death in my arms. And then I cried uncontrollably. He bled all over me. And then I went with three other guys to destroy a machine gun nest at [unclear] and I climbed into the mouth of a cave and there were three Japanese soldiers there. And I killed them in a murderous rage. And at the time I didn't think much of it. I went on with my murderous rage for several days after that. But trouble loomed, and yet I went to Japan after the war and I met Japanese and realised how wrong what I'd done was. Suffice to say that I drank for 17 years until I drank myself to near to death. I stopped drinking and at some point subsequently I turned my life over to trying to work against war and to alleviate poverty. And so for many, many years I worked to try to make amends. And I haven't understood that until very recently, until just in the last 24 hours, that the murder subject, it's all really enough for me, and I find it's very upsetting also that my life has been so shaped. 
So my question about the compassionate way is probably based the fact that I know...I believe, "Thou shalt not kill" is a true teaching. For me it's an absolute teaching and not a [unclear]. To me it is. And I've paid dearly for my belief that I've violated it in the worst possible way. And all I can do is make amends. But I guess I'm sharing this currently because I want to be open, but also partly because I want to know how I can be a compassionate person without acting out of a deep sense of guilt and shame. [Unclear]...

Ken: Well thank you very much for your openness. I think it adds or brings a sense of concreteness to this discussion. You've done three quarters of the job. You still hold on to an identity. That's the last quarter. I say three quarters because your question brings to mind a teaching in the Tibetan tradition which is called the four forces. You may already know them, I don't know. The four forces are how you stop the karmic process of evolution in your being. We can not go back and undo what has happened. And when you make amends it isn't really to undo or to set it back in order because--in a few situations that might be possible, but in most situations it isn't, and your example is very clear. Your buddy died in your arms, there's no undoing that and you killed a number of people, and there's no undoing that. 
The four forces are first, repudiation or regret, and that is, by doing the kind of reflection that you clearly have done, and that we're doing here, we come to repudiate those actions or that particular action. In this case it is killing you've repudiated. It's wrong. Period. 
The second is remedy, and we do this not with the idea of undoing what we've done, but with the idea that we add to the karmic process something that takes us in a good direction. And then there's resolve, and that's where you say, "I will not do this again." 
Okay, and the fourth one is reliance. Because whenever we act unwholesomely--which, for our purposes is intentionally causing harm to others--to do so, we actually have to check out of awareness, and one of the original meanings of the word sin is, that which separates you from God. So there's a similarity in that perspective. So we have to come back into awareness, and we do that ceremonially or ritually, by taking refuge, renewing our vows of bodhicitta and so forth, awakening mind. And you'll notice in this discussion there's no talk of forgiveness.
And what I'm suggesting is that you're holding on to an identity of a person who's no longer here. You follow? And to come to know through your own experience that you are no longer that person is how you let go of that identity. That person isn't here anymore. Now I can say that; that's my sense, but only you can know that. 


Working with meanness

Working with meanness (from ATPII05: A Trackless Path II (retreat) 00:29:22.40 - 00:36:11.30)

(download into iTunes)

Christy: What do you do about meanness in yourself?

Ken: It's very interesting you should ask this Christy, because there's a wonderful quote from Rumi right on this. Perfect.  I've actually put it in an article that I've just submitted to Tricycle. But I haven't memorized the quote so I have to look it up. Okay. [Ken searches on his computer] Here you are.

This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all.
Do you want me to read it again?

This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all.
Now, from the tone of your question I'm implying that you regard meanness as an enemy.

Christy: Well, in that it can certainly harm others, yes.

Ken: Okay. So when's the last time you can recall being mean, or feeling mean?

Christy: Today.

Ken: Good, so just recall that right now. And there's probably a hardening and tightening in the body a little bit?

Christy: I go more through grief recalling it.

Ken: Because it's an unpleasant memory or?

Christy: Yeah.

Ken: I want you to do it anyway. And I want you to imagine welcoming the meanness with open arms and tell me what happens.

Yes, what's happened?  It's very fast. Everybody can try this.  Take anger or meanness, you can take greed and just open your heart to it.  What happens? Christy?  I'm inviting you all to do it but this is Christy's.
Christy: It feels like a child. And what do you do with that child?

Christy: Embrace it.

Ken: And then what happens?

Christy: [pitch of voice rises considerably] Well.

Ken: You get my point. Now like the hope and fear that we were discussing with Joan, this is a very, very demanding instruction. It's a very, very profound one. It's exactly what Rumi's talking about. You receive this. And it can't hold the way that it usually does.  It holds when we resist it. When we regard it as, "No, this is not me, this is something other." But when you open your heart to it, then as you described, it's like a child, it's something young that's very, very upset. And this is that the heart of Thich Nhat Hanh's technique, which I've named Seeing from the Inside, where you're holding just those feelings tenderly in attention. 


The violin case

Violin Case (from AFB02: Awakening From Belief 00:48:54.80-00:50:02.90

(download into iTunes)

Well, for instance, a lot of people think of karma as a balancing mechanism in the universe. It's what makes the universe just. Well, that's just a projection of the human value of justice on the world. It's nonsense. It's totally unjust. When you really appreciate how karma operates, how this process operates, you realize you have about as much room to move as a violin in a violin case. Fortunately, it's enough. So the choice points, to go to your point that you're raising, are few and fleeting. That’s why mindfulness is so very very important. Because through the practice of attention, through the cultivation of attention in the practice of mindfulness, you actually create more and more choice points.