Posts Tagged ‘Pat Enkyo O’Hara’

Roshi Pat Enkyo O'Hara

Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara

“Do not lose yourself in the future,” Buddhist teachings advise. “Look deeply at life as it is in this very moment.” Under most circumstances that is sound advice, but it can also be devilishly difficult to follow. It is human nature to dwell on the future, especially when the future is replete with uncertainties.

So it was not long ago, when I learned that I needed minor surgery, and I met with my surgeon for a pre-op consultation. A seasoned professional in his sixties, he explained the nature of the procedure, including its history and technical details, and outlined the stages of recovery. During the first week, I would be laid up and managing pain, but by the second I would probably be feeling “fifty percent better.” By the end of the third, I might well be free of pain, though patients sometimes report “nuisance discomfort.” Six to eight weeks out, I would probably be able to resume my customary activities.

That forecast was reassuring, but by their nature forecasts focus on the future, and they leave open the question of what the patient, his eyes on the horizon, should be doing in the meantime. In a recent article (Prevention, January, 2014), Sister Dang Nghiem, MD, a Western-trained physician and a Buddhist nun, offers this prescription: (more…)

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122. Unwelcome sounds

Pile driverAs I sit at my desk this morning, I am listening unwillingly to the rhythmic, reverberant, and unrelenting blows of a pile driver on cold steel.  Wham! (Pause). Wham! (Pause). Wham! The crashes continue for another twenty minutes, as they have for the past few weeks. Charitably regarded, this disturbance of the peace represents the embodied spirit of Progress. Alfred University is building a new recreation center, a half block away from our home. But for many of us who live or work nearby, the noise has been the aural equivalent of a chronic, throbbing toothache. It has been an unwelcome sound.

In this it is far from alone. Most of us, I suspect, have our lists of unwelcome sounds, and more often than not, those sounds are beyond our power to abate, much less eliminate. Under such conditions, a scriptural reminder might be helpful: “And we exhort you, brethren . . . be patient with them all” ( 1 Thessalonians 5:14).  But help may also be found in Buddhist teachings, which offer three distinct practices for dealing with unwanted feelings and sensations. (more…)

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