Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My talk at Wisdom 2.0 Conference 2011

I gave a short speech titled "Wisdom for Love and Profit" at the Wisdom 2.0 Conference in February 2011.

Wisdom for Love and Profit by Meng Tan from Wisdom 2.0 Conference on Vimeo.

Before that, I also spoke as part of a panel at the same event with a few of my dear friends.

Applied Wisdom Practices from Wisdom 2.0 Conference on Vimeo.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Overcoming hindrances in 5 easy steps

The "Five Hindrances" are mental states that hinder progress in meditation.  They are:

  1. Sensual desire.
  2. Ill-will.
  3. Sloth and torpor.
  4. Restlessness and worry.
  5. Doubt.

That's not to say that these are "good" or "bad" states of mind, just that when you're trying to meditate, these things sort of get in your way.  So a skillful meditator learns to overcome them.

It turns out that the 5 steps to overcoming hindrances during meditation are hidden in plain sight right in the Satipatthana Sutta, the Buddha's lecture on what we know as Mindfulness practice, one of the most important and most read of all discourses by the Buddha.  The 5 steps are:

- Know when the hindrance is present.
- Understand the conditions that cause the hindrance to arise.
- Know when the hindrance is not present.
- Understand the conditions that cause the hindrance to be abandoned.
- (Therefore,) Understand the conditions that cause the hindrance to not arise in the future.

Simple and beautiful.

Thanks to Shaila Catherine for pointing this out in Google this evening.  I'm often impressed at how amazing she is as a teacher.

Someday, I want to read the Satipatthana Sutta in its original Pali.  I don’t think there is any substitute to reading an important text in its original language.  As a wise man once said, “You have not experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon.”

Friday, March 4, 2011

The bodhisattva with six-pack abs

Friends, I would like you to meet Maitreya the bodhisattva.  In Buddhist mythology, Maitreya is supposed to be the Future Buddha.  Buddha 2.0, if you will.  The representation you see above was created in the 1st century CE from the region of Gandhara, in present-day Pakistan.

The Maitreya represented here is a fully enlightened being, perfect in wisdom and compassion.  You can tell because he has a halo and an urna, the thing between his eyes representing his magical third eye.  More significantly to me, he has long flowing hair and a mustache, signifying that he is of the real world and is fully engaged in the real world.  He is a worldly being who is fully enlightened at the same time!  I find that idea very attractive.

But wait, it gets better.  Notice that Maitreya is dressed in princely robes and wears the jewelry of a prince, meaning he is financially quite well-off, to say the least.  Best of all, he is physically very fit.  Just look at his abs, he has six-pack abs!  How many enlightened men do you know have six-pack abs?  The Dalai Lama?  I don't think so, dude.

The first time I saw this representation, I was instantly and irresistibly drawn to it.  It represents everything I aspire to be in this lifetime: an enlightened multi-millionaire, one who reaches perfection in wisdom and compassion, with six-pack abs.