Mastodon OgFOMK ArTS: June 2019

When The Conditions Are Right, This Will Happen

Buddha Land - Wat Pasantidhamma

The Dhamma

The word "Dhamma" (Dharma) is a cousin to our word for Earth (Terra). As far as science is concerned the conditions were right and Earth happened. This is the Dhamma that we understand.

When the conditions are right, this will happen. That's what Dhamma is. Dhamma is the foundation, the piles, the pile caps, the grade beam and the truth. So when the conditions are right things happen. 

Right does not mean good or bad. Right means fecund, fertile or ready. If the conditions are right you will have an accident. If the conditions are right you will save money. If the conditions are right your life will end. All of this is Dhamma!

The Four Noble Truths

The Noble truth of suffering is based on the conditions are right for suffering truth. The first truth is that There Is Suffering. The second Truth is that there are Causes to Suffering. The third truth is that All Suffering Ceases (When the Conditions are Right). The fourth Noble Truth is that Suffering Ceases when the Noble Eightfold path is observed.

The Noble Eightfold path is based on finding the conditions right for ending suffering through observant action. Either way the conditions will always be right for something to happen. Observing the Noble Eightfold Path creates the right conditions for non-attachment to endless conditions which create suffering.

The Noble Eightfold Path

1. Right View - Observing that all dhammas are temporary and dependency creates suffering

2. Right Resolve - Deciding to create the conditions within the mind to let go of suffering.

3. Right Speech - As this is a multi-verse of beings it is important that the truth, kind words and speech that is liberating is used.

4. Right Action - Performing activity that is blameless within one's own mind and the shared space work with others.

5. Right Livelihood - Making your way in this world without killing, selling weapons, selling intoxicants and honest labor. 

6. Right Effort - Strategic effort that follows the conditions to make the desired results happen and also eliminate the efforts that do the opposite.

7. Right Mindfulness - Fully putting your mind to work in ending suffering. 

8. Right Concentration - Focusing on the exact activity you are working on. 


In Buddhism, meditation is the practice of arriving to the right conditions. When you start any activity the conditions will always be wrong! The conditions are wrong because the result is not there. In other words the conditions are right for change. 

In order to arrive at the right conditions we practice. We practice meditation on wisdom (Vipasana) and we practice meditation on Concentration (Samadhi). 

Vipasana is extracting the truth of Dhamma from the waste of good advice, rules, regulations, scriptures and the whole lot that is distributed. Vipasana creates an inner condition where the mind understands without having to prove anything. Vipasana brings forth a condition without conflict.

Samadhi then is concentration. During meditation one can observe the breath. When the mind is presenting a multitude of ideas there is a training shift to the breath, or skin, or teeth or any number of objects that have been designated as the one that reinforces concentration. 


The only reason to want to end suffering is the arrival of Doom. This is the feeling that all is hopeless. A healthy feeling that birth, aging, sickness and death are inescapable. If this was a fraction or equation it would be Doom/Dhamma. Doom is suffering. Doom is Dukkha. Dukkha is gravity. Gravity/Dhamma is a whole. Dukkha/Dhamma when the conditions are right. 

Doom then is suffering. In the the Dhammachakkapavatanna Sutta (The Turning off the Wheel of Dhamma) there are illustrations of suffering. Basically it is this: if you have this desire for something it is suffering and if you have something that you like it can be (it will be) lost. All conditions are suffering. The conditonless (Nibbanna) is the end of suffering. 


To fall into the condition where there is no conditional attachment is Nibbanna. This is developed by practice. So when the conditions are right this conditonless state also will happen. It's the center of the equation. You will find it there.


Little Bee and the Thistle

Little Bee and the Thistle


I work outside. Most of my years I've worked outside. I've had some inside jobs: Computer Technician, Web Help Desk, Estimator, Barista, Server, Bartender, Computer Store Manager and Book Store Manager. 

Some jobs that I've had helped me to transition into the office: Job Admin, Assistant Superintendent and Superintendent. Those were transitional because I was working in the field as a Lead Carpenter, Form Carpenter or Carpenter Foreman.

My experience has led me to appreciate many types of work. It has also led me to understand that it's better to work outside than inside.

The Find

When I arrive to work I see the transitional sky from night to day. I see the water of the Elizabeth River. I feel the wind or cool breeze. I see the thistle plant and a tiny bee.

The bee is a tiny thing. She's maybe 2mm or 1/4" long. My eyes are not so strong at close range but I can make out her distinctive torso with gold and yellow stripes. I pull out my phone and take a picture. She doesn't mind. 

The purple of the thistle contrasts the bleak dusty ground. Nothing lives in the well traveled road but adjacent to it life continues. I can't remember ever seeing a tiny bee like this. I barely see any bees at all these days.

Just as I am writing this I stop to hook up a metal box to a crane and I see a flash of zig-zag movent. I see a honey bee! I investigate. It's a bee for sure. About four times the size of my previous bee sighting. 

As temporary as this all is, it's still good to catch a glimpse of a bee in action. When the conditions are right this will happen. 

The Rub

As always I have time to think. I think how wonderful this place is that we live. I think about how fragile our home world is too. How connected and disconnected we are. 

The sun rises and the sun sets. Our sun is temporary. We are temporary. You get this perspective when you engage the natural world. 

Everything in the world we live in involves care. Carelessness is also care. It's like the word "quality" that's used in advertisements. It's just a form of kamma. Good or bad it is still action, actors and acting. 

Another way of thinking is in the conduit of action and energy. When the conditions are right, this will happen, but we also affect the outcome as we channel the action.


The ultimate position to be in in action is striving. That's goal oriented action. That's when the brain rewards success with endorphins. Successful people go after this in every activity. 

Inside the thistle the little bee does her thing. She shares pollen and the thistle provides glucose. Their actions together bring fruition. As human beings we can work for this fruit too. We have choice. 

Do we toil ourselves out of existence? Do we set goals and explore the Galaxy and the Universe? Do we worship chance? Do we solidify our spiritual carelessness? 

I'm like little bee and this is my thistle.

I love Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virgina

Downtown Norfolk's Harbor Park

We are pretty fortunate here. The Elizabeth River divides the land but the ferry, the tunnels and bridges keep us together. I have to be near the water. It's what drives me.

Downtown Norfolk and Portsmouth's downtown are easily accessible from each other. Hotels line the waterfronts and you literally have access to nearly a thousand restaurants. You have a mall, movie theaters, condominiums, apartments and houses. 

Norfolk and Portsmouth are living cities. Some downtown's are ghost towns on the weekend. Atlanta and Richmond are examples of this. 
I've had an apartment in Downtown Norfolk and I currently have a house in Portsmouth.

Portsmouth has its ups and downs but I enjoy the waterfront, the festivals, the Farmers' Market and the museums. 

I marvel at what holds it all together. Sometimes I think that our local government is smoking crack. Other times I think they really care. That's life. 

There's plenty of bad news to absorb. Instead I try to put energy into what it is that I like. Bad or good attention still gives energy to the subject. I'd prefer to shine the light on the good things. 


Consider The Lilies in the Field

Alex Nuttall Sleeping
Consider the lilies in the field they neither toil nor spin.

-- Matthew 6:28, Luke 12:27

I've read the Christian Bible, various translations, several times. The above is from two different New Testament books. I like what the message is. 

The message is to let you, the reader or listener know that it's not necessary to struggle because God has it all under control.

As a Buddhist I am not concerned with the glory of God. At the same time I'm also not concerned with deprecated other people's faith. In fact if you do a bit of research you'll find that Christians have uncovered many other faiths and practices because their own learning is based on research, discovery and contemplation. Many early Hindu, Chinese and Buddhist texts were brought to the Western world by Christian missionaries. 

As the missionaries were salesman (women) their job was to convert as many people as possible. It also was to understand who the people were who they wanted to convert. The very clever messengers assimilated culture and introduced Christianity. The ignoble ones would use extortion or even torture.

The message of the passage in Luke and Matthew is a simple one. It's a meditative statement. My Buddhist interpretation is this: 

Consider the Mind Formations (Samskaras) of the Lilies, They neither Toil nor Spin (Produce negative Karma because their natural karma is without blame). It's a message about dependant co-arising and the Dhamma (Dharma - The law of this Universe). The punch line is the the lilies beauty is greater than anything manufactured by Man(kind). 

We can attempt to connect a consciousness to Dhamma but it's not going to help us. We can negate the consciousness and debate it but that will not help us either. It's a lot of toil. Instead we can find our natural rhythms with each other and the world. We can introspect and inspect our minds. This is how we find that our minds in the natural state are like lilies. 


It Doesn't Matter What Other People Do.

It Doesn't Matter What Other People Do.
It doesn't matter what other people do... Period! 

Recently we had another set of shootings in Virginia Beach. One man killed, at the time of this writing, 13 people and injured 3 others. This is an extreme example of real human behavior. Yet to my own spiritual life and well being it doesn't matter what that man did. It matters what I do.

I could not sleep so I started this post after meditating because I was mulling over shootings, family illnesses, parental health (my parents), spousal health, children's health, grandchildren's health, work, co-workers, bosses, jobs, money, bills, housing, cats, my feet, my work boots, my truck. This endless list continues. I then shifted the focus from them and that to me.

I've been a terrible employee, father, son, spouse, grandson, brother, friend, co-worker and citizen many times because of the things I have done. My careless and selfish behavior has led to much suffering on the part of others. I've also been a good guy too. Maniacal normal human.

What's done is done. I can play the recording of events over and over again. The events of others and the events of my own hands. I can not do anything about what others have done but I can do something about my reactions, responsibilities and relationships.

Furthermore I can do something good for myself that will enable me to improve my life and those other lives around me. By doing this thing that is a practice I am changing the whole universe! You can join me if you like. Because it doesn't matter what you do or others do this activity that I do is infinitely powerful. Again, you can join me if you like.

I wish I could tell you how wise and wonderful I am. I can't do that. I can only share my refuge. This is where I go when I am experiencing happiness and sadness. I go to this refuge because it's good. It feels good. It's powerful. It's self revealing. It's free. It's practical. It's here right now.

The Five Precepts:

Before I show you this refuge I must share the foundation of the Five Precepts.

1. Respect Life by behaving safely in action with regards to others for the sake of a sincere practice.

2. Respect Property of others by behaving honestly and taking only what has been given for the sake of a good practice.

3. Respect Sexuality by celibacy or behaving openly with adult relations pursuing only cooperative partnership, commitment and love for the sake of a healthy practice. 

4. Respect Speech by saying what is helpful, true, necessary, without harm and distracting free for the sake of a mindful practice.

5. Respect The Mind, Heart and Body Consumption by consuming only what is needed for health, a clear mind and physical balance without leading one to carelessness for the sake of a careful practice.

The Five Precepts are a prescription and learning process. With practice these precepts lead to knowledge that is self evident. They are not commandments. Commandments are based on something outside of yourself. Precepts are the suggested practice of those who have obtained knowledge that is based on experience.

The Refuge:

As I stated earlier I had to go to my refuge. I practiced mediating and the result was that I felt better, I accepted my thoughts and I was able to increase happiness by putting it all together for you.

How to meditate regardless of your circumstance:

1. Sit up straight if you can. The goal is to have your spine straight. Work on this. If you are paraplegic, then you are as straight as your going to get. Don't panic. In your mind visualize yourself as a straight line from one end of your body to the other.

2. Breath through your nose. Shut your mouth. Again, do the best that you can. 

3. Observe, watch or feel your breath move through your nose. Focus on this regardless of what your mind thinks. This teaches you that your mind is controlled by you.

4. Practice for a designated time. Give yourself a time limit. Say to yourself, "I will do this for 5 minutes." In my case I use a meditation timer on my phone and I practice for 30 minutes.

5. Set your goal and record your progress. I draw with magic marker on a calendar a half circle in the morning practice and a half circle for the evening practice. My goal is an hour a day.  I have a whole circle of I successfully do two sessions.

6. When you finish remember how you used your breath and do this throughout your day! Use it any time. No one can take this from you. Hyperbole may invade your mind but that's when your mind is not in your breath!

That's it. 

The Source: 

The source of this practice comes from Buddhism. More specifically it comes from the Thai, Theravada, Forest Tradition. For many years I have practiced by reading books. I spent money on lots of books and I took classes. 

I will advise that you not pay for any classes, books, teachings or advice. The Theravada Forest Tradition specifically will not charge you for any books, classes, teachings or teachers. It's free. The Buddha never charged for his classes so we should not either.

The Buddha is a person, a human, who has awakened his mind by practice. The above teaching will lead you to this too. Ultimately it will position you to understand that It Doesn't Matter What Other People Do. It only matters what you do and how you practice doing.

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