Category: Blog

The Practice Of Mettā

The Practice Of Mettā

One of the most transformational practices of Insight Meditation is the practice of Mettā, also known as Lovingkindness, which involves cultivating feelings of goodwill, kindness, and gentleness towards oneself and others. Because of its many advantages for mental and emotional wellbeing, Metta has grown in popularity among modern meditation practitioners. A great deal of my own practice involves Metta and I frequently recommend committed periods of Metta practice for my students. 

The origins of Metta practice can be traced back to the Buddha, who taught the practice as an ultimate protection. According to legend, the Buddha taught Metta meditation to a group of monks who were afraid of terrifying objects, dreadful noises, and sickening smells introduced by tree-deities during their meditation retreat in the forest. The Buddha instructed the monks to practice Metta towards themselves and then expand their feelings of love and kindness towards all beings, including those they feared. By the end of the retreat, the monks no longer felt fear and had developed a deep sense of compassion and empathy for all beings.

The practice of Metta involves repeating a series of phrases to oneself silently, such as “May I be happy, may I be safe, may I be healthy, may I live with ease.” The practitioner then extends these same wishes to others, starting with someone where the intentions of love and goodwill come easy, then to someone they have neutral feelings towards, and finally to someone they may have difficulty with or hold resentment towards. The practice concludes with a boundless expression of benevolence, extending out to include all beings, without exception. A skilled and experienced teacher can help you understand the nuances of the practice and can offer invaluable guidance through any difficulties or obstacles you may encounter during your practice.

Modern meditation practitioners can benefit from Metta in many ways. One of the primary benefits of Metta is that it helps to develop a sense of friendliness and empathy towards oneself. This can lead to greater feelings of self-love and self-acceptance, which can be particularly helpful for those who struggle with self-criticism or negative self-talk. Metta can also help to reduce feelings of anger, resentment, and fear, as the practice encourages the cultivation of positive emotions and attitudes towards others.

In addition to emotional benefits, Metta has also been shown to have physical health benefits. Studies have found that practicing Metta meditation can lower levels of stress hormones and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. It can also improve feelings of social connectedness and increase feelings of happiness and wellbeing. Further studies have shown it also enhances brain activity in areas associated with positive emotions and reduces activity in areas associated with negative emotions. From this alone you can easily begin to understand why Metta practice is highly revered by those who dedicate themselves to the practice. 

It may go without saying that Metta is without a doubt a very powerful meditation practice. It has been passed down for over 2,500 years with countless practitioner’s benefiting from the release of fear, enmity, and dis-ease. Its origins can be traced back to a direct teaching of the Buddha to his monks that many find captivating, and it continues to be a popular practice among modern meditation practitioners today. By cultivating feelings of goodwill, kindness, and gentleness towards oneself and others, Metta can lead to numerous benefits for mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. 

If you’re interested in cultivate greater goodwill and friendliness in your life, I invite you to join me for the weekly Open Online Guided Meditation sessions offered on Sundays during the month of March where I provide participants with instruction and direction for the cultivation of Metta.

By Johnathan Woodside

Vipassanā bhāvanā

Vipassanā bhāvanā

Vipassanā bhāvanā, or Insight Meditation, can be found in the Theravāda tradition of Buddhist practice, which emphasizes the cultivation of mindfulness (sati) for the advancement of wisdom (panna). Put simply, the practice is based on the understanding that suffering arises from craving, and that liberation from suffering can be achieved by abandoning craving through the development of clear seeing and insight into the impermanent and interdependent nature of all things.

Ethical conduct (sila) is an essential component for the practice of Insight Meditation, without an ethical foundation, progress on the path is impeded. A meditator’s virtuous conduct includes refraining from actions that cause harm to oneself or others and engaging in skillful activities that promote the well-being of all beings.

“Morality is the first step in the path towards eternal bliss. It is the basic spiritual foundation. Without this base, there can be no human progress and spiritual advancement.” — K Sri Dhammananda

Daily practice (bhāvanā) is also emphasized in the insight tradition. Practitioners are encouraged to dedicate time each day for meditation. With dedicated practice, individuals can cultivate mindfulness, which involves recognizing the changing nature of experience without craving for the pleasant, aversion to the unpleasant, or an absentmindedness to the neutral experiences. This virtuous present-centered-awareness allows individuals to observe their thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations without becoming attached to them, whereby a direct experience of the arising and passing of phenomena may lead to liberating insight.

Another resulting component of insight meditation is the development of wisdom. Wisdom in this sense refers to a profound comprehension of the fundamental nature of reality, namely: impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and the not-self objective reality of all things. A direct experience of the transitory and conditioned nature of all things ultimately leads to a liberating knowledge that frees the mind. This understanding allows individuals to see through the illusion of a fixed and permanent self and to recognize the interconnectedness of all things.

Insight Meditation is most supportively practiced within a retreat center environment, where practitioners can immerse themselves in the practice for an extended period of time. Retreats can span anywhere from a few days to several months, which provides dedicated practitioners an opportunity to deepen their practice and develop a more profound understanding of themselves and the world around them.

As we engage in the noble practice, we prioritize living a skillful life, grounded in ethical behavior, dedicated to daily practice, and committed to the nutriment of wisdom. With sincerity of practice we can achieve freedom from suffering, in this very life, and feel a profound sense of oneness with all things by mindfully understanding the impermanent and interrelated nature of all things. I invite you to join me for the weekly Open Online Guided Meditation sessions offered on Sundays during the month of February where I provide participants with instruction and direction for the cultivation of Vipassanā.

By Johnathan Woodside

Samatha Bhāvanā

Samatha Bhāvanā

Vipassana, commonly referred to as insight meditation, has grown in popularity in recent years in the West. The goal of this type of meditation, which is connected to the Theravada school of Buddhism, is to cultivate awareness while also gaining insight into the nature of reality. Though not the sole type of meditation, insight meditation is an effective tool for spiritual development and the direct path to liberation. Samatha bhāvanā, or the cultivation of focus, is another method that Westerners who practice insight meditation may find to be quite helpful.

Samatha bhāvanā, also known as “calm-abiding” or “tranquility meditation,” is a form of meditation that includes concentrating the mind on a single object in order to create a state of mental stillness and clarity. This can be accomplished by engaging in techniques like feeling the physical sensation of the breath, tuning into the sounds of one’s surroundings, or envisioning an object in the mind’s eye. Samatha bhāvanā aims to cultivate the capacity for sustained attention, which is helpful in honing the concentration required for Insight Meditation.

Insight Meditation is frequently referred to as a “two-fold” practice, with the first phase being the development of awareness and the second being the development of focus. The two techniques should actually be utilized together because they are interrelated. Concentration enables us to keep our attention on a single object, whereas mindfulness enables us to know what’s happening as it’s happening without becoming caught up in experience. Together, they lay the groundwork for a solid and enduring meditation practice.

For Western practitioners of insight meditation, using a method that involves samatha bhāvanā may be advantageous because it can assist in establishing some stability of mind. Western culture can be fast-paced and stressful, which can cause a persistent state of mental agitation that makes it challenging to concentrate. Samatha bhāvanā  can help to settle the mind and offer a sense of equilibrium and stability.

Samatha bhāvanā can aid in deepening the practice of Insight Meditation, which is another advantage. Longer durations of sustained attention allow a deeper understanding of the nature of reality. Additionally, the stillness and clarity achieved through samatha bhāvanā can help to reveal states of concentration that may not be accessible through mindfulness alone.

It’s also worth noting that the approach of samatha bhāvanā can be useful for those who find mindfulness practice challenging, as it can be of great support in developing the ability to focus the mind. When the mind is able to be still, it is easier to observe the arising and passing away of mind states, thoughts, and emotions, without getting caught up in them.

Finally, it’s important to note that the practice of samatha bhāvanā is not just for those who practice Insight Meditation. It is a valuable practice for anyone looking to develop a tranquility and clarity. It can be used to reduce stress and anxiety, improve focus and concentration, and even improve physical health.

Samatha bhāvanā can be incorporated into Insight Meditation to improve one’s spiritual practice and gain better harmony and clarity. Although a focus on concentration alone might cause an imbalance in one’s practice, integrating these two techniques should be done gradually and under the supervision of a skilled teacher. Ultimately, an approach that includes the practice of samatha bhāvanā can bring a new dimension to Insight Meditation for Western practitioners and can lead to a deeper understanding and connection with the nature of reality.

By Johnathan Woodside

Satya Narayana Goenka

Satya Narayana Goenka

Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious & Spiritual Leaders By Acharya S. N. Goenka (English)

Mr. S. N. Goenka


Mr. Goenka is a teacher of Vipassana meditation in the tradition of the late Sayagyi U Ba Khin of Burma (Myanmar).

Although Indian by descent, Mr. Goenka was born and raised in Burma. While living in Burma he had the good fortune to come into contact with U Ba Khin, and to learn the technique of Vipassana from him. After receiving training from his teacher for fourteen years, Mr. Goenka settled in India and began teaching Vipassana in 1969. In a country still sharply divided by differences of caste and religion, the courses offered by Mr. Goenka have attracted thousands of people from every part of society. In addition, many people from countries around the world have come to join courses in Vipassana meditation.

Mr. Goenka has taught tens of thousands of people in more than 300 courses in India and in other countries, East and West. In 1982 he began to appoint assistant teachers to help him to meet the growing demand for courses. Meditation centres have been established under his guidance in India, Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, France, the United Kingdom, Japan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Nepal and other countries.

The technique which S. N.Goenka teaches represents a tradition that is traced back to the Buddha. The Buddha never taught a sectarian religion; he taught Dhamma – the way to liberation – which is universal. In the same tradition, Mr. Goenka’s approach is totally non-sectarian. For this reason, his teaching has a profound appeal to people of all backgrounds, of every religion and no religion, and from every part of the world.

Mr. Goenka was the recepient one of the prestigious Padma Awards from the President of India for 2012. This award is the highest civilian award given by the Indian Government.

U.N. Peace Summit

In the Summer of 2000, Mr. Goenka, the principal teacher of Vipassana Meditation visited the United States and spoke, along with other world spiritual leaders, at the “Millennium World Peace Summit” at the United Nations World Headquarters in New York.

S. N. Goenka Addresses Peace Summit

By Bill Higgins
Date: August 29, 2000
NEW YORK – Vipassana Acharya S. N. Goenka addressed the delegates to the Millennium World Peace Summit as they gathered in the United Nations General Assembly Hall today – first ever gathering of religious and spiritual leaders in the UN.
Mr. Goenka’s speech, in the session entitled Conflict Transformation, focussed on the themes of religious harmony, tolerance and peaceful coexistence.

“Rather than converting people from one organized religion to another organized religion,” said Mr. Goenka, “we should try to convert people from misery to happiness, from bondage to liberationand from cruelty to compassion.”

Mr. Goenka gave his speech during the Summit’s afternoon session to a group that included roughly two thousand delegates and observers. Mr. Goenka spoke in the session that followed CNN founder Ted Turner’s speech. Mr. Turner is one of the Summit’s financial patrons.

In keeping with the Summit’s theme of seeking world peace, Mr. Goenka stressed in his speech that peace in the world cannot be achieved unless there is peace within individuals. “There cannot be peace in the world when people have anger and hatred in their hearts. Only with love and compassion in the heart is world peace attainable.”

An important aspect of the Summit is the effort to reduce sectarian conflict and tension. Regarding this Mr. Goenka said, “When there is anger and hatred within, one becomes miserable irrespective of whether one is a Christian or a Hindu or a Muslim.”

Similarly he said to a thunderous applause, “One who has love and compassion with a pure heart experiences the Kingdom of Heaven within. This is the Law of Nature, or if one would rather, God’s will.”

Appropriately to a crowd that included major world religious leaders he said, “Let us focus on the commonalties of all religions, on the inner core of all religions which is purity of heart. We should all give importance to this aspect of religion and avoid conflict over the outer shell of the religions, which is various rites, rituals, festivals and dogmas.”

In summing up Mr. Goenka quoted the Emperor Ashoka who in one of his Rock Edicts said, “One should not honor only one’s own religion and condemn other religions. Instead, one should honor other religions for various reasons. By so doing one helps one’s own religion to grow and also renders service to the religions of others. In acting otherwise one digs the grave of one’s own religion and harms other religions as well. Someone who honors his own religion and condemns other religions may do so out of devotion to his religion, thinking, “I will glorify my religion’; but his actions injure his own religion more gravely. Concord is good. Let all listen and be willing to listen to the doctrines professed by others.”

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called the Summit “a gathering of the world’s pre-eminent religious and spiritual leaders in a united call for peace that will hopefully strengthen the prospect for peace as we enter the new millennium.”

Spiritual leaders who’ve been invited to the U.N.’s first-ever conference of this kind include Pramukh Swami of Swami Narayana Movement, Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Swami Agniwesh, Mata Amritanandamayi Devi and Dada Wasvani as well as eminent scholars such as Dr Karan Singh and L. M. Singhvi.

In reference to the participants’ religious and cultural diversity, Annan has said, “the United Nations is a tapestry, not only of suits and saris but of clerics’ collars, nuns’ habits and lamas’ robes; of miters, skullcaps and yarmulkes.”

Though Annan has been repeatedly questioned about the Tibetan leaders absence, he has attempted to steer questions back to the Summit’s goal, which he says are “to restore religion to its rightful role as peacemaker and pacifier – the problem of conflict is never the Bible or the Torah or the Koran. Indeed, the problem is never the faith – it is the faithful and how we behave towards each other. You must, once again, teach your faithful the ways of peace and the ways of tolerance.”

The U.N. leader’s hope is that since 83% of the world’s population adheres to a formal religious or spiritual belief system, these religious leaders can influence their followers towards peace.

The U.N. is hoping the conference will move the world community towards, in the words of one document, “to acknowledge its spiritual potential and recognize that it is within our power to eradicate the worst form of human brutality – war – as well as one of the root causes of war – poverty. The time is ripe for the world’s spiritual leadership to work more closely with the United Nations in its effort to address the pressing needs of humankind.”

The Summit will end this Thursday on 31 August when participants will sign a Declaration for World Peace and form an International Advisory Council of Religious and Spiritual Leaders, which will work with the United Nations and the U.N. Secretary-General in peacemaking and peacekeeping efforts.

“The goal of the International Advisory Council of Religious and Spiritual Leaders is to enhance and strengthen the work of the United Nations,” said Bawa Jain, the Secretary-General of the World Peace Summit. “It is our earnest hope that in times of conflict, the world’s great religious and spiritual leaders can be parachuted into these hotspot to seek non-violent resolutions to the conflicts.”

U.N. Address

Universal Spirituality for Peace By S. N. Goenka

Universal Spirituality for Peace, by S.N. Goenka – Real Video Format

The following is the complete text of the address given by Mr. Goenka on Tuesday, 29 August 2000 in the United Nations General Assembly Hall to the participants of the Millennium World Peace Summit.

When there is darkness, light is needed. Today, with so much agony caused by violent conflict, war and bloodshed, the world badly needs peace and harmony. This is a great challenge for religious and spiritual leaders. Let us accept this challenge.

Every religion has an outer form or shell, and an inner essence or core. The outer shell consists of rites, rituals, ceremonies, beliefs, myths and doctrines. These vary from one religion to another. But there is an inner core common to all religions: the universal teachings of morality and charity, of a disciplined and pure mind full of love, compassion, goodwill and tolerance. It is this common denominator that religious leaders ought to emphasize, and that religious adherents ought to practice. If proper importance is given to the essence of all religions and greater tolerance is shown for their superficial aspects, conflict can be minimized.

All persons must be free to profess and follow their faith. In doing so, however, they must be careful not to neglect the practice of the essence of their religion, not to disturb others by their own religious practices, and not to condemn or belittle other faiths.

Given the diversity of faiths, how do we surmount the differences and achieve a concrete plan for peace? The Buddha, the Enlightened One, was often approached by people of different views. To them he would say, “Let us set aside our differences. Let us give attention to what we can agree on, and let us put it into practice. Why quarrel?” That wise counsel still retains its worth today.

I come from an ancient land that has given rise to many different schools of philosophy and spirituality over the millennia. Despite isolated instances of violence, my country has been a model of peaceful co-existence. Some 2300 years ago it was ruled by Ashoka the Great, whose empire extended from present-day Afghanistan to Bangladesh. Throughout his realm, this compassionate ruler caused edicts to be inscribed on stone, proclaiming that all faiths should be respected; and as a result, followers of all spiritual traditions felt secure under his sway. He asked people to live a moral life, to respect parents and elders, and to abstain from killing. The words in which he exhorted his subjects are still relevant today:

One should not honor only one’s own religion and condemn other religions. Instead, one should honor other religions for various reasons. By so doing one helps one’s own religion to grow and also renders service to the religions of others. In acting otherwise one digs the grave of one’s own religion and harms other religions as well. Someone who honors his own religion and condemns other religions may do so out of devotionto his religion, thinking, ‘I will glorify my religion’; but his actions injure his own religion more gravely. Concord is good. Let all listen and be willing to listen to the doctrines professed by others. (Rock Edict12)

Emperor Ashoka represents a glorious tradition of tolerant co-existence and peaceful synthesis. That tradition lives on among governments and rulers today. An example is the noble monarch of Oman, who has donated land for churches and temples of other faiths while practicing his own religion with all devotion and diligence. I am sure that such compassionate rulers and governments will continue to arise in future in many lands around the world. As it is said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

It is all too clear that the votaries of violence primarily hurt their own kith and kin. They may do so directly, through their intolerance, or indirectly, by provoking a violent response to their actions. On the other hand, it is said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” This is the law of nature. It may equally be called the decree or way of God. The Buddha said, “Animosity can be eradicated not by animosity but only by its opposite. This is an eternal Dharma [spiritual law].” What is called Dharma in India has nothing to do with Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism or any other “ism”. It is this simple truth: before you harm others, you first harm yourself by generating mental negativity; and by removing the negativity, you can find peace within and strengthen peace in the world.

Peace of Mind For World Peace

Every religion worthy of the name calls on its followers to live a moral and ethical way of life, to attain mastery over the mind and to cultivate purity of heart. One tradition tells us, “Love thy neighbor”; another says, Salaam walekum – “May peace be with you”; still another says, Bhavatu sabbamangalam or Sarve bhavantu sukhinah – “May all beings be happy.” Whether it is the Bible, the Koran or the Gita, the scriptures call for peace and amity. From Mahavir to Jesus, all great founders of religions have been ideals of tolerance and peace. Yet our world is often driven by religious and sectarian strife, or even war – because we give importance only to the outer shell of religion and neglect its essence. The result is a lack oflove and compassion in the mind.

Peace in the world cannot be achieved unless there is peace within individuals. Agitation and peace cannot co-exist. One way to achieve inner peace is Vipassana or insight meditation – a non-sectarian, scientific, results-oriented technique of self-observation and truth realization. Practice of this technique brings experiential understanding of how mind and body interact. Everytime negativity arises in the mind, such as hatred, it triggers unpleasant sensations within the body. Every time the mind generates selfless love, compassion and good will, the entire body is flooded with pleasant sensations. Practice of Vipassana also reveals that mental action precedes every physical and vocal action, determining whether that action will be wholesome or unwholesome. Mind matters most. That is why we must find practical methods to make the mind peaceful and pure. Such methods will amplify the effectiveness of the joint declaration emerging from this World Peace Summit.

Ancient India gave two practices to the world. One is the physical exercise of yoga postures (Asanas) and breath control (Pranayama) for keeping the body healthy. The other is the mental exercise of Vipassana for keeping the mind healthy. People of any faith can and do practice both these methods. At the same time, they may follow their own religions in peace and harmony; there is no necessity for conversion, a common source of tension and conflict.

For society to be peaceful, more and more members of society must be peaceful. As leaders, we have a responsibility to set an example, to be an inspiration. A sage once said, “A balanced mind is necessary to balance the unbalanced mind of others.”

More broadly, a peaceful society will find a way to live in peace with its natural setting. We all understand the need to protect the environment, to stop polluting it. What prevents us from acting on this understanding is the stock of mental pollutants, such as ignorance, cruelty or greed. Removing such pollutants will promote peace among human beings, as well as a balanced, healthy relationship between human society and its natural environment. This is how religion can foster environmental protection.

Non-Violence: the Key to a Definition of Religion

There are bound to be differences between religions. However, by gathering at this World Peace Summit, leaders of all the major faiths have shown that they want to work for peace. Let peace then be the first principle of “universal religion”. Let us declare together that we shall abstain from killing, that we condemn violence. I also urge political leaders to join in this declaration, given the key role they play in bringing either peace or war. Whether or not they join us, at least let us all make avow here and now: instead of condoning violence and killing, let us declare that we unconditionally condemn such deeds, especially violence perpetrated in the name of religion.

Certain spiritual leaders have had the sagacity and courage to condemn violence committed in the name of their own faith. There may be different philosophical and theological views of the act of seeking forgiveness or regretting past violence and killing; but the very acknowledgment of violence performed in the past implies that it was wrong and that it will not be condoned in future.

Under the aegis of the United Nations, let us try to formulate a definition of religion and spirituality highlighting non-violence, and refusing to countenance violence or killing. There would be no greater misfortune for humanity than a failure to define religion as synonymous with peace. This Summit could propose a concept of “universal religion” or “non-sectarian spirituality”, for endorsement by the U.N.

I am sure that this Summit will help focus the world’s attention on the true purpose of religion:

Religion sets us not apart;
it teaches peace and purity of heart.

I congratulate the organizers of this historic Summit for their vision and efforts. And I congratulate the religious and spiritual leaders who have had the maturity to work for reconciliation, giving hope to humanity that religion and spirituality will lead to a peaceful future.

May all beings be free from aversion and be happy.

May peace and harmony prevail.

Candy Bar Kindness – A practice of Renunciation

Candy Bar Kindness – A practice of Renunciation


Place this extremely rich and delicious candy bar in your refrigerator.

Each time the craving to nibble, eat, or taste the candy bar arises, gently say “No.” to the mind. Say “no” to the mind with tenderness and understanding. This is a “no” of lovingkindness. In the same way you might say “no” to a sweet little child who wants to play too close to a fire. It’s a guarding “no” of mature understanding and kindness.

This is a simple practice of renunciation. Not a “no” motivated by aversion but a wise “no” that sees clearly craving in the mind. Allow the practice of saying “no” to expand naturally to those areas where skillful discrimination and a kind “no” are needed.

When the candy bar no longer calls your name. Make your personal decision to eat it. After the first bite, return to the first instruction and begin the practice again.

May I find within me the motivation and trust of my own greatness of heart, and may it arise within me as a resource and power for my own benefit and that of all beings. May it be so.

By Johnathan Woodside

Shock The Monkey

Shock The Monkey

The practice of renunciation is the practice of non-addiction. It is the practice of saying “no” to the mind. It’s not a “no” motivated by aversion but a wise “no” that sees clearly craving in the mind. Where there is fixation and dependency a skillful discrimination and kind “no” are needed.

This afternoon while I was on a walk in the woods everything was communicating the liberating lesson of change. The expansive river, swollen with the recent rains, was racing beside me on the path I followed. The cool breeze sang through the trees while sunlight danced on the leaves. The song of birds and insects competed for dominance. Everything was teaching the great lesson that nothing whatsoever is to be clung to. Everything is changing.

After my walk I returned to my car. I opened the car door and slowing took my seat. Settling in I adjusted and closed the door. I placed my keys in the ignition and started the car. A song on the radio rushed in to the burning interior to greet me. It was Shock The Monkey by Peter Gabriel. I relaxed back into my seat, smiling, I let the beat of the song move through me. Head nodding and foot tapping, hearing the song in a new way my mind recognizes the practice of renunciation in the lyrics.   

If we frequently entertain patters of thinking or behavior that cause us pain yet enchant us beyond our resolutions to abandon them, it can feel like a prison. It’s been described as a monkey that rides on one’s back, chattering, clawing, and biting. This monkey can be cunning, sometimes charming with sweet whispers of empty promises, and other times defecating a stream of self-loathing down our back. This monkey is not our friend.

This monkey for the most part is used to getting its way. It has seen that if it whines and screams enough our eyes glaze over and our resolve begins to weaken. It’s as if the monkey is not only agile but a grand master sorcerer as well. The monkey weaves a spell so powerful that we are beguiled and believe that the fabrications of our thinking and the desires of our behavior are reliable and lasting, capable of some dependable happiness.

The metaphorical monkey is complicated, it is pain, and in our delusion, it is the method by which we avoid relating to pain. Yet one moment can be enough to change the pattern of avoiding and introduce a new relationship of mindful observation. We can “Shock” the monkey by not avoiding the pain but by being with it, without greed, without aversion, and without delusion.

Peter Gabriel’s song can be a rallying cry to let the monkey go free and take our life into our own hands. Happiness is found in the letting go, not in the having.

“Just cause you got the monkey off your back doesn’t mean the circus has left town.”
— George Carlin

By Johnathan Woodside