It may not look like much is going on, but spiritual practice can unleash a flood of creative activity.
Q: What is the relationship between creativity and spirituality? I sometimes think that trying to clear my mind and not think actually stifles my creative process.
A: Personally, I have found that meditation helps clear my mind and open my heart in a way that is very conducive to creative expression. Many of my spiritual friends also find this to be true. And conversely, many people have found that communing with the Muses is not unlike connecting with their God, Higher Power or inner...
The Enlightened One would advocate restraint, reason, compassion, and understanding.
This article originally appeared on Beliefnet in September 2001.
What would the Buddha do? No one can really say for sure, any more than anyone can say in truth why God sent death to 3,000 innocent people last week at the hands of a terrorist attack. (I personally consider it the handiwork of man, not God, and that we might do well to look amongst and within ourselves for the causes.)
However, I am sure that the Compassionate Buddha would stop for a prolonged moment of mindfulness and total attention—-silent,...
Holidays--Buddhist or otherwise--offer auspicious times for practice and reflection.
Q: What kinds of holidays does Buddhism have?
A: Buddhists around the world celebrate many different holidays, stemming from divergent cultural influences and the use of different calendars. The principal one, celebrated by Buddhists around the world regardless of tradition, is Vesak (pronounced way-sak), the commemoration of Buddha's birth, death, and enlightenment. Vesak occurs every year on the full moon in May.
But there is variation in the observance of the various milestones of the Buddha's life...
The lama sets the record straight on the ins and outs of a much misunderstood term.
Q. What is Tantra? I have heard it has something to do with spiritual sex.
A. Tantra is often associated with sacred sex. The ancient Sanskrit word tantra literally means "warp and woof" or "continuation" and refers to non-duality, interwovenness, or oneness through the union of opposites.
Tantra is an ancient, esoteric Indian spiritual tradition, common to both Hinduism and Buddhism, dating back to before the time of Christ--and even the Buddha, who lived in the sixth century B.C.E. Buddha is said to have...
In Buddhism, you really do reap what you sow.
Q. I keep hearing the word karma these days. Does it mean destiny?
A: "Karma" is an ancient Sanskrit word that means "causation, cause and effect, conditioning, or action and reaction." In Tibetan, the word for karma is leh, which literally means action. In ancient Pali, the language of the earliest Buddhist texts, the word for karma is kamma, which means "deeds." I define karma as reaction, or conditioning. The idea is that there are no accidents, that everything happens for a reason, even if that reason is not immediately perceptible. All major...
Even the Dalai Lama gets angry. The trick is what you do with it.
Q: What did the Buddha teach about anger, specifically righteous anger? Is any anger acceptable in Buddhism?
A: The Dalai Lama recently answered the question, "Is there a positive form of anger?" by saying that righteous anger is a "defilement" or "afflictive emotion"--a Buddhist term translated from the Sanskrit word klesha--that must be eliminated if one seeks to achieve nirvana. He added that although anger might have some positive effects in terms of survival or moral outrage, he did not accept anger of any kind as a virtuous...
Can one be self-accepting and motivated at the same time?
Q: I hear a lot about acceptance and self-acceptance, but how can acceptance actually help? It seems to me the more I have to strive to change things in my life, the more gets done and the better life goes, things go, while if I simply accept things as they are, then less gets accomplished.
A: A Thai master named Achaan Cha said:
"Try to do everything with a mind that lets go.
If you let go a little you will have a little peace.
If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace.
If you let go completely, you will know complete...
Through spiritual practices, take hold of life's changes and turn them into positive experiences.
Dear Lama Surya Das,
When I first asked my 18-year-old goddaughter, Tricia, what her life’s big questions were, she said that she didn't think much about spiritual things, and instead stewed about colleges, clothes and dating. But a short time later, over lunch not long ago, she came up with a big one: "Why is everything always being taken away?" And to go along with this conundrum comes the question "How do you stay positive in the midst of constant loss and suffering?"
Here is my response...
What's all the chanting about? Lama Surya Das explains how sacred sound is a surefire path to spiritual insight. And it's fun!
Q: I hear a lot about chanting in Buddhist meditation centers and elsewhere these days. What is the purpose of chant, mantra, and sacred music?
A: In chant, the power of sound connects us with ourselves, one another, and the divine. It is an ancient, tried and true form of meditation and prayer. "Chant is singing our prayers; chant is vocal meditation,” writes my friend Robert Gass in his fine book, "Chant: Discovering Spirit in Sound." All over the world, people...
Far from being a self-centered preoccupation, meditation actually encourages spiritual activism.
Q. Sometimes Buddhist meditation seems like self-indulgent navel gazing. Isn't it more important to work for peace and justice; to try and make the world a better place for everyone?
My own mother used to write to me while I was in India and Nepal in the 1970s and '80s, asking me what good could come--for me or anyone else--from spending so much time in contemplation. I would tell her that it is far better for me to become peace than to fight for peace.
Mahatma Gandhi said we must embody the changes...