Inside the November 2014 Shambhala Sun magazine
Look inside the November 2014 Shambhala Sun magazine
FEATURING: Sylvia Boorstein, Thich Nhat Hanh, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, and more on getting free from habitual patterns of thinking, relating, and acting; Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche on three principles that bring dharma into our lives today; ABC News anchor Dan Harris talks meditation with Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg, and Mark Epstein; Norman Fischer's "Useless Advice," book reviews, "About a Poem," and more.
Click titles below to read excerpts and select complete articles.
This issue's editorial:
Melvin McLeod on the communication of dharma in a world of new media.
Special feature section: Get Off the Wheel of Habit
Getting free from habitual patterns of thinking, relating, and acting — it's the whole point of Buddhist meditation.
Buddhist teacher Sylvia Boorstein on five styles of habitual reaction—and how to free yourself from yours.
Sylvia Boorstein shares a practice for working with your mind when things aren't going well.
Not all habits are bad. Happiness is a habit too, says Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. Here's how you can make it grow.
Shine the warm light of awareness on your thoughts and feelings, says Thich Nhat Hanh.
Whether we're relating to lovers, friends, family,
or colleagues, habitual patterns separate us from each other and the
present moment. Rose Taylor and Ari Goldfield show us how to cut through old patterns and truly connect.
Helpful techniques to work with habitual patterns as they arise in the moment.
What happens when negative thought patterns are taken to the extreme? Matt Bieber on his struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder and how Buddhist practice helps.
When you recognize the true nature of mind, says Tsoknyi Rinpoche, all habitual patterns are naturally liberated in the space of wisdom. Plus: Recognizing Clarity, a Dzogchen meditation.
Individuality, Independence, Interdependence—Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche on three principles that bring dharma into our lives today.
ABC News anchor Dan Harris gets the inside story on mindfulness and compassion from Buddhist teachers Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg, and Mark Esptein.
Zen teacher Norman Fischer has some surprising advice for university graduates: the best thing you can do in life is something that serves no purpose.
If you zone out or slack off, you're setting yourself up for failure. In our intimate relationships, says Sakyong Mipham, we need to be fully present.
"Slow Cleaning" isn't just drawn-out housecleaning, says Christian McEwen. It's a chance to bring attention to what we have and decide what to let go.
Q&A with Meredith Monk.
reviews & more
Reviewed by Jessica Morey.
This issue's roundup includes books on mindful eating, spirituality for atheists, and the art of awakening as you grow older.
Sherab Chodzin on the poetry of Kay Ryan.
Shambhala Sun, November 2014, Volume Twenty Three, Number 2.
On the Cover: Rat photo (c) Dave Bredeson / Dreamstime.com
The Sunlight of Awareness (November 2014)
Shambhala Sun | November 2014
The Sunlight of Awareness
Shine the warm light of awareness on your thoughts and
feelings, says THICH NHAT HANH.
Observe the changes
that take place in your mind under the light of awareness. Even your breathing
has changed and become “not-two” (I don’t want to say “one”) with your
observing self. This is true of all your thoughts, feelings and habits, which,
together with their effects, are suddenly transformed.
From time to time
you may become restless, and the restlessness will not go away. At such times,
just sit quietly, follow your breathing, smile a half-smile, and shine your
awareness on the restlessness. Don’t judge it or try to destroy it, because this
restlessness is you yourself. It is born, has some period of existence, and
fades away, quite naturally. Don’t be in too big a hurry to find its source.
Don’t try too hard to make it disappear. Just illuminate it. You will see that
little by little it will change, merge, become connected with you, the
observer. Any psychological state that you subject to this illumination will
eventually soften and acquire the same nature as the observing mind.
meditation, keep the sun of your awareness shining. Like the physical sun,
which lights every leaf and every blade of grass, our awareness lights our
every thought and feeling, allowing us to recognize them, be aware of their
birth, duration, and dissolution, without judging or evaluating, welcoming or
It is important
that you do not consider awareness to be your “ally,” called on to suppress the
“enemies” that are your unruly thoughts. Do not turn your mind into a
battlefield. Opposition between good and bad is often compared to light and
dark, but if we look at it in a different way, we will see that when light
shines, darkness does not disappear. It doesn’t leave; it merges with the
light. It becomes the light.
To meditate does
not mean to fight with a problem. To meditate means to observe. Your smile
proves it. It proves that you are being gentle with yourself, that the sun of
awareness is shining in you, that you have control of your situation. You are
yourself, and you have acquired some peace. It is this peace that makes a child
love to be near you.
Adapted from The
Sun, My Heart: Reflections on Mindfulness, Concentration and Insight,
published by Parallax Press.
Five Ways to Get Free (November 2014)
Shambhala Sun | November 2014
Five Ways to Get Free
Here are five techniques you can use to work with
habitual patterns as they arise in the moment. In the same way that detrimental
habits can become ingrained, they can be replaced with new behavioral styles
that feel more wakeful and sane. The key is not to expect any quick
fixes—please be patient and kind with yourself.
1. Expand Awareness Gain familiarity with your habitual patterns. Notice how you feel when
you act out of a habitual tendency. Notice how particular areas of your body
may feel uncomfortable. The more you do this, the sooner you will be able to
identify your habitual behavior once it starts.
2. Make Space Simply breathing, relaxing your body, and moving into another stance may
be enough to shift from, or slow down, a habitual reaction. So when you notice
you are acting out of habit in a relational situation, slow down and take some
space. Pause to breathe a few times. Feel how your body posture and sensations
reflect your reactions to the situation. You may want to delay interaction by suggesting
another time to talk, or by letting the other person know you need some time to
think and you will get back to them.
3. Explore Choice When acting out of habit it can be hard even to imagine there are
alternative ways of doing things. So it is important to spend some time
exploring what other options there are in the situation. Even if these choices
seem outrageous or unrealistic, allow yourself to be free and creative. You are
not going to act on any of these options yet, so have fun with it. If this step
is difficult, imagine how other people, or even characters from books or
movies, would act in the same situation.
4. Step into Choice From those options, choose how you want to act. Do not expect a
particular result; simply act from the conviction that this is what feels right
for you to do. When you first start challenging your habitual patterns, you may
feel awkward and wrong-footed, but that lets you know you are in the right
place. Even if you choose what you would have habitually done in the first
place, it will feel different because you are acting voluntarily and with
5. Re-Run If
you find you have completely played out an interaction from the stuck place of
habitual tendency, do not get discouraged or self-critical. It is significant
that you noticed your pattern, and you can still work with the situation by
re-running it. When did you become aware you were falling into the habit? What
could you have done differently? Imagine how that would feel to act in that new
way. Doing this will build the power of choice around this habit for the next
time it arises.
—Rose Taylor and Ari Goldfield
Bodhi Trees (November 2014)
Shambhala Sun | November 2014
In nature we see
Buddhist truths unfold, while in Buddhism we find ways to heal the natural
world. JESSICA MOREY on Minding
the Earth, Mending the World.
Minding the Earth, Mending the World
Zen and the Art of Planetary Crisis
By Susan Murphy
Counterpoint 2014; 320 pp., $16.95 (paper)
How can we wrap our minds around something so vast as the
destruction of the planet, and—instead of going mad or numb—grow interested?
And how do we slow down enough to quickly take right action?
These are the opening questions of Susan Murphy’s new book, Minding
the Earth, Mending the World: Zen and the Art of Planetary Crisis. Murphy
does not shy away from the stark realities of the destruction we are wreaking
in every ecosystem on Earth. And though her book is dense with facts, it reads
like poetry or a series of koans. The reader can feel the author’s presence,
the inspiration of her roosters and dog, and the rhythmic shadow of trees and
winter grass outside her window. It’s a book that must be absorbed slowly.
Editorial: A World of Skillful Means (November 2014)
Shambhala Sun | November 2014
A World of Skillful Means
We live in a whole new world of communications. I think it
will be great for the dharma.
We all know the downsides of 24/7 media—how it can separate
us from ourselves, others, and the world around us. As our May issue’s cover
suggested, such distractions can even distance us from our own potential for
enlightenment. But that’s not the whole story.
The new media world offers Buddhists a wealth of skillful
means. We can present genuine dharma in more ways, more effectively, to more
people. As an editor and a devoted Buddhist, I’m really excited about the
Buddhism has always been about meeting people where they are
with what they need. It has been a multimedia religion for thousands of years,
from tweet-worthy pith instructions to lengthy treatises, spontaneous exchanges
to formal lectures, step-by-step diagrams to monumental sacred art. Today the
opportunity has never been greater to bring people the dharma they need, when
they need it, in the form most helpful to them.
Even in this new world of constant and instant
communication, one thing is as true as it’s ever been: it’s good content that
creates community, connection, and transformation. For us, that means
trustworthy, authentic, accessible dharma.
For more than twenty years, the Shambhala Sun Foundation has
been an authoritative voice of Buddhism in the modern world. In the Shambhala
Sun and Buddhadharma, our editors have curated the best dharma
teachings, commentary, personal stories, art, and meditation techniques for our
readers. I love the great writing, deep teaching, and beautiful feel of the Sun
and Buddhadharma. I hope you do too. But for me, it’s never been about
the form per se. It’s about what works.
At the Shambhala Sun Foundation, we measure our success in
benefit. We aspire to serve people wherever they are on their spiritual path.
To help people lead better lives and to benefit society. To always reflect both
the profundity and the practicality of the dharma.
These goals can be served beautifully by the skillful means
of twenty-first-century media. From print to social media, websites to video,
apps to e-books, they offer us depth, breadth, effectiveness, timeliness, and
impact. They create connection and community. They bring us the dharma we need,
when we need it, wherever we are in our lives.
Taking advantage of this new world isn’t just for
traditional publishers anymore. It is a challenge we all face as practitioners.
Every one of us today has ways to share our wisdom and experience with others,
and hundreds if not thousands of people can benefit.
Today, media is something we do together. This is completely
new in human history. Something much richer than the old one-way publishing
model is happening. We will co-create the new ways of communicating and
spreading the dharma. What had been a publisher and an audience now becomes a
community, brought together by our shared commitment to Buddhist teachings and
With the Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma
magazines as our starting point, the Shambhala Sun Foundation is beginning this
important evolution. Let’s do it together. This community needs your wisdom,
your feedback, your experience of the dharma, and your support. It’s your
participation—in all kinds of ways—that will make it real.
The dharma has made all the difference in my life. I’m sure
it has been a great help to you too. Together, let’s offer the benefit of the
dharma to many others, in new ways, where they are and when they need it. We
can create a new, twenty-first-century union of the practical and the profound.
—Melvin McLeod, Editor-in-chief
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