Ignorance and Want

From the foldings of its robe, the Ghost of Christmas Present brought two children;
wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment.

‘Oh, Man. look here. Look, look, down here.’ exclaimed the Ghost.

They were a boy and a girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and
touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread.

‘Spirit. are they yours?’ Scrooge could say no more.

‘They are Man’s,’ said the Spirit, looking down upon them. ‘And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers.
This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it.’ cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. ‘Slander those who tell it ye. Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And abide the end.’ Continue reading

The Ghosts of Christmas Past & Future

Image result for scrooge wakes upA year ago, i wrote 10 blog posts about Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which i see year after year for its Buddhist teachings. Now i have yet another insight into this old chestnut of a story.

The Ghost of Christmas Future shows Scrooge his own death, and this is his transformative moment. We may have several insights in our meditation practice, but only a very few of them lead to a transformation of our personality. Continue reading

Body Ghosts

Image result for foamWhat is a ghost anyway? A disembodied spirit; a vague, shadowy or evanescent form. Once in a while we might say, “He’s a ghost of his former self,” meaning the resemblance remains, but the body seems to be thinning out.

In The Foam Sutta, the Buddha says, “Form is like a glob of foam.” What??? Is my body no more substantive than dishwater or a bubble bath? Continue reading

What If There Are No Neutral People?

Image result for powdermilk biscuitsWhen we practice loving-kindness, we first infuse ourselves with kindness and friendliness. Then we think of dear friends and relatives and pervade our minds with more benevolence. Next, we consider neutral people–those people we see in our daily lives, whose names we may not know–the grocery store clerk, the bank teller, the post office clerk. But what if we had no neutral people? Continue reading

A Life of Integrity

A Dharma friend has a blog on the The Buddha’s Advice to Laypeople. (That would be us.) She talks about integrity–the 5 precepts–as the primary practice for us householders.

The Buddha uses the word sila, which I like to translate as “integrity”, though it is often translated as morality, virtue, or ethics. Continue reading

An Avalanche of Aging Bodies

In the past 5 days, four of my neighbors have made trips to the hospital. Last Friday, which was above freezing, Ellen was walking into her garage when the snow on the roof let loose and avalanched down on her. Her hip broke. Luckily her husband had not yet left, though he was in the house. She screamed. He took her to the hospital, and she got a brand new hip later that day.

Continue reading