Life is a delightful, complex, messy business. How do you respond to the existential human predicament? Do you wonder how best to balance your spiritual longings while honouring our ordinary human life? Here, Manjunaga offers reflections on the tendency to skip over the messy bits of ourselves (aka spiritual bypassing) as occupational hazard in the spiritual life.
We want things to be different, that is the force that drives growth but can also be a source of pain. How does the Dharma help us relate to our experience, including the difficult aspects, and help us transform those difficulties into wisdom.
Practising Buddhism (so much harder than understanding it) involves breaking the chain of the twelve negative links, or nidanas, by moving onto the spiral path, here described in its twelve stages. What is our usual reaction to things that are pleasant, things that are painful and things that are neutral? Sangharakshita gives us a clear description of the beginning of the Spiral Path, that of our response to Dukkha.
Most of our life strategies are to avoid pain. We can ask ourselves - Do I want to be bound by suffering, or free from suffering? Aryajaya describes the movement towards the Three Jewels as a development of faith and effective Going for Refuge.
Nirvana is described as great bliss, that arises when grasping at self and other has vanished. A stream of uninterrupted creative activity, the Buddha is the supreme example of this. Here Padmavajra offers a deep dive into the Dhammapada, verses 277-279, on impermanence, dukkha and insubstantiality.