Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time


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Book Review — The Misleading Mind, by Karuna Cayton

Karuna Cayton, a psychotherapist and practicing Buddhist, has written an interesting book for non-Buddhists who are looking for ways to make their life more manageable. Based on the 2600 year-old principles of Buddhist psychology, it covers the general range of the Four Noble Truths and the eightfold path, but in a fashion that does not require extensive knowledge — any knowledge at all, really — of Buddhist teaching and principles.

“It is odd that we can describe our hands or our face but if we’re asked to describe our mind we can only offer vague, nebulous descriptions. That’s because, not examining the mind, we don’t know the mind. Knowing how our mind really functions is the first step to mental balance and health and, yes, greater happiness. We need to become explorers – curious about our idea of self, our mind, our emotions, how they function and how we can master them. As such, we’ll seek the knowledge, contemplation, and wisdom to become our own best therapist. Our discoveries become the pathway to solving our problems and revealing a happier and healthier way of being.”

The ideas covered in The Misleading Mind will not come as anything new to those who have even casually perused the Buddha’s teachings. However, in approaching them from the perspective of people with no knowledge at all of suffering and the causes of suffering as understood by Buddhists, Cayton has illuminated corners that may not have been examined even by long-term practitioners. These principles are presented in a way that is accessible to non-Buddhists, and at the same time can profitably be considered by experienced students.

Finally, unlike many writers, Cayton does not minimize the need for continuous, long-term work to effect the changes he promises.  While reasonably gentle, he insists we understand that we are the “captains of our souls,” that we have to work for what we desire, and that the ultimate responsibility for our happiness rests upon — and just above — our own shoulders.

The Misleading Mind: How We Create Our Own Problems and How Buddhist Psychology Can Help Us Solve Them, ©2012 by Karuna Cayton. New World Library.


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Will it be harder to recover if you don’t believe in God?

If we believe in a loving god who cares what happens to us, looks after us, and answers prayers, the peace that our belief brings will unquestionably be a great support in recovery.  On the other hand, if we believe that a god will take care of us simply because we ask, without our putting any effort into our recovery process, then it is quite possible that believing could hinder our recovery.  Likewise, if we were raised to believe in a harsh, punishing god who will make us pay for our transgressions, we may find that we are emotionally unable to deal with the implications and may so totally reject the “God Thing” (as many of us call it) that we end up throwing our recovery out with our religious beliefs.

[Please read the rest of the article before commenting.]

Read more…


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Forest of Light

Sofan Chan paints lovely images of the Buddha in bright primary colors.  For some reason I find them very much in the spirit of the Buddhism that I practice — focused on obtaining peace, often happiness, and occasional joy by looking at the world as clearly as I am able at a given time.  (I’m not saying I’m good at it, I’m saying that my efforts bring me peace and joy — what’s not to like?)  Anyway, if you’d like to see more of Chan’s work, even purchase some, click the image.

Disclaimer: I have no connection with the artist whatever; I just like the work.


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Quote

Science does itself a disservice if it pretends to be capable of answering all meaningful questions. Religion likewise sabotages itself when it dismisses findings of science in favor of pretty myths. To be truly powerful, both science and religion need to change and grow, hand in hand. Truth is more nearly to be found in unity of intellect and emotion, or unity of self and non-self. It is in that elusive place of balance where we become aware that the essences of things are not one way or another.

White, David M (2010-11-26). Zen Birding (p. 9). O-Books. Kindle Edition.


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Compassion and Forgiveness WMS 2/24/18

There is a well-known Buddhist lesson concerning two monks who were traveling and came to a muddy stream.  There they observed a woman who was hesitating to cross, apparently concerned about soiling her clothing.

The older monk approached the woman, bowed, and then picked her up and carried her across the stream.  He set her down, bowed again, and he and his younger companion continued on their way.

That evening, while they were eating their rice, the younger monk said, “I don’t understand.  As monks, we are to have no contact with women, yet you picked that woman up and carried her in your arms!”

The older monk said, “I put the woman down at the side of the stream.  You are still carrying her.”

That’s how we are.  We cling to thoughts and ideas, worrying them and twisting them around inside our heads, causing all sorts of turmoil and accomplishing nothing in the way of our journey toward spirituality.

To me, spirituality is about things of the human spirit: understanding, compassion, forgiveness, love, willingness to contribute our efforts to help others, humility (at which I fear I’m not all that successful) and things of that sort.  Compassion and forgiveness are especially important, because clinging to the resentments that prevent those qualities from shining forth causes us so much unhappiness.

Compassion is, essentially, seeing things from another’s point of view, and being willing to do what we can to alleviate their suffering.  Forgiveness is compassion toward ourselves.  It is not about “freeing” the other person from anything, but about freeing ourselves of the unhappiness that is caused by being unforgiving.

Like the young monk, we sometimes carry things along with us after the reality has changed and, in our very human way, often blow it up in our minds until it forms a nearly impassable barrier to true spiritual growth.  Not until we realize that forgiveness does not involve condoning a wrongful act, but is simply choosing to accept, and move on with our own lives, can we expect to get beyond it.  That doesn’t mean that we have to invite the person to dinner, but only that we need to learn to put down our own burden after we have crossed the stream.


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The Serenity Prayer And Me

From an article I wrote on a different site:

Many of us in recovery — especially early recovery — have difficulty with what we see as the “religious” aspects of the 12 Step fellowships.  Again, without getting into a discussion about religion versus spirituality, it has been my experience that those who are able to put such prejudices behind them, take from “the program” what fits for them, and allow others the same privilege, are the ones who are most likely to succeed.  Personal problems with concepts of gods and higher powers notwithstanding, it is quite possible to be a part of the 12 Step experience and not delve into religion at all.

Spirituality, however, is an absolute must, and certain concepts that have come to be expressed in terms of prayers and similar ideas are also critical to success.  Again, we need to read between the lines of those things and take from them the underlying thoughts and wisdom.  Sometimes we even need to show a bit of humility and go along with customs such as prayers at the beginning and end of meetings, understanding that those things are important for many people, and that participating does us no real harm at all.

One prayer that we need to take absolutely to heart is the Serenity Prayer…

http://sunrisedetox.com/blog/2011/04/07/serenity-prayer-recovery-addiction-alcoholism/