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some tools for breaking bad habits

Our "character defects" or, better put, coping strategies, start childhood—they begin as ways to navigate through difficult, challenging interpersonal situations. In our earliest years we feel especially vulnerable, as we are so dependent on others for our basic needs. Traumatic interactions to even the most benign, negative reactions from family members, teachers and social peers can appear to be threats to our survival.

And so we choose short term "survival" behaviors that "rescue" us difficult quickly from tense situations. Over the years they become ingrained, nearly automatic:
—hypervigilance, or monitoring others' subtle facial expressions, trying to read their minds, so we can anticipate their actions towards us
—throwing fits or talking ceaselessly to gain attention
—exaggerating when we think our experience wont be interesting enough to warrant needed attention from others
—yelling and resorting to dramatic extremes to stop people from doing what…

a few thoughts on addiction: a short term strategy for happiness

addiction is the ingrained habit of feeding off of something again and again, seeking relief from stress and suffering.
the addictive part comes because the peace of mind our addictions bring, while intense, don't last very long. yet we seek the short term relief over and over and over, not understanding that long term relief is possible.we develop tolerances to our addictions (alcohol, drugs, money, sex) and need more and more to give us the relief addictions have side effects or drawbacks. addictions often require antisocial actions to regain access to the stuff we're craving. these actions come at the expense of relationships, careers, etc. so addictions are a strategy for peace of mind, no matter how short the duration.

our addicitons are ways to stop ourselves from experiencing what we're thinking, feeling, experincing physically. Addiction is self-medication or self-diagnostic. A way to address an underlying condition. People don't become addicted when they have und…

5 ways to resist obsessive thoughts (Vitakkasanthana)

The mind can be thought of as a committee
Our thoughts are present by many "voices," some skillful and unskillful
W there are some skillful voices in there, focusing on useful ideas, there are also the many voices in the "committee" that cause us suffering by advancing and encouraging useless, stress inducing ideas, plans, worries.

Some examples of unskillful, stress producing obsessions
—are dedictated to figuring out the worst possible outcomes (fear) of any situation
—fixate on unknowable future events, i.e. what will we experience later in life?
—try to figure out what other people are thinking about us
—compare ourselves with others, especially in material concerns
in general, the buddha broke these down the thoughts of craving, aversion and delusion.

How unskillful internal voices persuade us
some of these committee members try to get their way by
—most work by repeating the same thought over and over
—some split into thousands of variations that seem different, but are …

relationships

hear talk at http://dharmapunxnyc.podbean.com/2009/06/11/relationships/

how do i meet the right person?
someone who loves, understands, accepts, supports us & shares my life?

The question is, why aren't we providing these things for ourself?
• In order to be understood, supported, accepted, we have to give all those things to ourselves.
All the acceptance in the world is empty when we don't truly have acceptance for all of our experience.
• We have to arrive in relationships from a place of wholeness, rather than being needy, lonely, desperate. Neediness is utterly unattractive.
self-confidence and inner peace is very very attractive to others.
• When we can give ourselves what we need, we have no need to control our partners.
• As far as "sharing our life" why can't we share our experiences with our spiritual friends? Why do we need there to be a single person who knows everything?
Why can't we give that to ourselves?

The test:
• close eyes and ask ourselves what w…

New Year's Eve 2009-10 Intention Setting Talk

The idea of "a new year" is pretty much an abstraction, in that tomorrow very little in the world will drastically change.

still, its a good time for reflection:
• what actions have we taken in the last year? were they skillful actions? unskillful ones?
• has what we've done allowed for more or less inner peace in our minds?
• if life ended, would we have accomplished something worthwhile?

the emphasis of these reflections are the things we do towards our inner peace and spiritual progress.
• What's happened to us is beyond our control, spiritually unimportant.
• as psychologists (maslow, carl rogers, eric fromm, seligman, etc) have noted, there's a direct correlation between the well-being and purposefulness we experience and our positive actions, especially those actions relating to positive actions that contribute to something larger than our self-centeredness (nature, organizations, spiritual practices)
• our habits that cause stress we're not condemned to repea…

Foundations of karma and buddhist thought

the dhammapada opens with
1. Mind is the author of all things. All things are mind made.
If a person speaks or acts with an unskillful mind
suffering follows him like the cartwheel follows the ox.

2. Mind is the author of all things. All things are mind made.
If a person speaks or acts with a skillful mind
happiness follows him like his shadow.

note: it is important to notice the verb follows here. follows implies a passage of time, either short or long.

3. Those who maintain thoughts like
"That person abused me, hurt me, stole from me." do not still their hatred.
4. Those who do maintain thoughts like
"That person abused me, hurt me, stole from me." Still their hatred.
5. Hatred is never eased and ended by hatred in this world.
By non-hatred alone is hatred eased and ended. This is an eternal law.

All things are representations
All the things we experience are recreations of the world in the mind. while there is an external, objective world, the buddha's teachings focus on …
Welcome to the blog.

The guiding principal is to use this blog as an expediate to distribute the notes I prepare for my tuesday evening Dharmapunx New York talks. Hopefully these annotations will aid in understanding the powerful spiritual tools attributed to the Buddha 2500 years ago in the Pali Canon.

I generally spend 5 - 10 hours preparing for each talk's topic, combing through the Pali Canon (found at Ajahn Geoff's Accesstoinsight.org), talks by Theravadan Buddhist monks, books written by Theravadan monks in my library, along with reflecting on my own experience with each topic.

As I do my research for each talk, I type out notes which I refer to while preparing for the presentation. Rarely, if ever, do I actually look at the notes while teaching, so the notes contain far more ideas than I actually cover in the talks. People who are interested in the topics—especially those who want additional material—might find these preparatory jottings worthwhile.

If any of these notes ra…