Monday, July 25, 2011

A minor meditation challenge

I realize it is a bit late to get in at the start seeing how the Rains Retreat “officially” began a week ago, but a post I happened to see on the fancy new Google+ alerted me to an opportunity I thought I couldn’t pass up. It was an invitation to join Patrick Henry, who on Twitter goes by the handle @MishapPatricio and Tumbles here, and others in a commitment to meditate for 30 minutes daily for the duration of the Rains Retreat.

If you want a little background regarding the Rains Retreat, this article is a decent start. It also explains that if you decide to make a commitment to sitting for 30 minutes each day, you don’t have to do all 30 minutes at once. I break up my sessions into two 15-minute sits.

But I would also recommend that you read this about the Lay Buddhist Practice. It’s an excellent guide to a variety of activities you can add to your practice. Granted, these practices are mostly from the Thai Forest Tradition of Theravada. But several of the chants I recite every time I sit; it’s part of my practice just as much as breathing.

Some may balk at these activities because they appear ritualistic. And there’s been a lot of discussion about dumping the rituals and seeking a new Buddhism that is more focused on – well, I actually haven’t quite figured out what this “new Buddhism” is supposed to be. I’ve read several posts about this rebellion against traditionalism within Buddhism, both from the pro and con. I’m reserving judgment at the moment. But I will say this, as I have said it before.

Rites and rituals, in and of themselves, are empty behaviors that have no meaning and to attach meaning to them is to foster delusion. Having said that, these rites and rituals are excellent methods for developing mindfulness, without which Buddhism merely becomes a glamorous excursion into self-gratification – a supreme hand-job if you will.

Start slow, however, if you decide to add any of these activities to your practice. If you seek to develop mindfulness, you will fail if you try to add too many of these activities to your overall practice all at once.

Please let us know how you are doing with your 30 minutes a day for the next 90 days by leaving a comment here occasionally. And don’t forget to visit the My Buddha is Pink Facebook page!

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