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Are ancient teachings meaningful to our modern lives? Can regular people like you and me get something out of studying and practicing a 2600 year old spiritual tradition? In this collection Daniel answers these questions and more. This is about meditation practice for the real world. This is about applying ancient teachings to our lives and finding new meanings.
I was watching a wonderful movie called “The Happiest Season” with my wife on Thanksgiving. It’s a romantic comedy/drama that you can find on Hulu. In it Kristen Stewart plays an orphan. Her parents passed when she was 19. As a result she doesn’t really like holidays.
That sounds sillier than it is.
Her girlfriend convinces her to go meet her family for Christmas. But her girlfriend has not come out to her parents. Lots of crazy things happen.
Equal parts hilarity and heart. Five stars.
There’s a scene where the family is meeting her for the first time and they have this attitude of “I’m so sorry about your parents.” They pat her on the shoulder and they have incredible concern for her.
And she’s just like “Um…it was a long time ago…”
It’s sort of played for uncomfortable comedy. The family is a little over the top with their sympathy, saying things like, “You’re so brave. And you don’t need to be.”
I’m telling you all this for a reason.
I didn’t really know how to explain it until I saw it in the context of this movie. That’s exactly what it’s like.
I lost my parents when I was 19 too. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a clear presentation of what it’s like. I started thinking holidays were stupid after my parents died. I became a negative person. I’ve definitely made more than my share of mistakes.
And the sympathy is exactly what it was like for many years too. Now that I’m 40, a lot more people my age have lost their parents. It’s not nearly as unusual as it was. But through my 20s and even into my 30s I received plenty of “Oh, I’m so sorry.”
It wasn’t easy. I carried the weight of that loss for a long time. I guess I still do. For years I was just miserable. And I also I wasn’t really capable of letting people get close to me. I didn’t know how to show up for relationships like I needed to. I was just sort of broken and numb.
I still carry some baggage. I have real attachment issues and fears of abandonment. That’s gotten better but it will probably never totally go away.
The truth is we’re all carrying emotional baggage from childhood. We like to think we outgrow that stuff, but I don’t think we do. Whether your parents were mean, or didn’t show the kind of love you needed, or passed away too soon like mine…that’s manifesting in our relationships. It can take a lifetime to figure out how to put that baggage down.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life. I’ve done many things that have harmed myself and also may things that have harmed others. That’s a really difficult thing for anyone to wrestle with. But when we start a mindfulness practice, when we start seeing ourselves clearly, then we see the good and the bad.
Ram Dass said, “You can no longer deceive yourselves as sincerely as you did before.”
I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’m sorry to anyone that I’ve ever harmed. I spent a lot of my life being a very negative and a very selfish person. That’s a hard thing to admit, but it’s the truth. And I believe in being honest with you.
I carry a fair bit of emotional baggage around the deaths of my parents. It impacted me deeply (as it would anyone) I’ve always thought I was lucky that I didn’t fall into drug addiction or some self destructive impulse. But what I did fall into was….not realizing my potential. I’m really only now realizing what a mess I made of my 20s and 30s. That’s not an excuse for any of the mistakes I’ve made, but it definitely had a big role in shaping who I am. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that if you had known me a few years ago you’d be thinking “Why would anyone take advice from him on anything?”
I was the most negative person around it took many many years of meditation practice to change that.
We need to practice kindness but we also need to remember to give ourselves kindness too. We have to reflect on our baggage and see what we really need to put down.
That’s why our meditation practice is so important. We need to learn to put down our baggage so we can live more fully. We need to learn to see things clearly so we can make the best decisions for ourselves. And we sure as hell need to cultivate compassion. It’s in short supply in the world today.
We don’t meditate to be good at meditating. We meditate because it helps us in our day-to-day lives. It’s also only one tool in our arsenal. We need to eat vegetables, spend some time outdoors, relax, and tell our friends that we love them. All of these things help us unleash our full potential.
October 4-11-18, 2020 | Zen Meditation is about seeing the truth by learning to be fully present in this moment. In this mini-course we are going to talk about awakening from the daydream of life, putting down our baggage, and transforming our suffering through present-moment awareness.
Daniel Scharpenburg is a meditation teacher, writer, and podcaster. In his day job he’s a union labor activist. Daniel’s goal is to bring meditation practice and Buddhism to people in a practical way that they can apply to their everyday lives. He teaches in small gatherings and retreats.
Scharpenburg has been practicing Buddhism and meditating for more than twenty years, with many different teachers. He spent time teaching at the Open Heart Project and at the Rime Buddhist Center before becoming an independent teacher. He was appointed a lay dharma teacher by the International Chan Buddhism Institute and was named a Lineage Holder in the Lay Caodong Chan Tradition. He also received meditation teacher training from the Rime Buddhist Center and from the Anchor Meditation Center.
Daniel is a co-owner of the website The Tattooed Buddha. His work has appeared in the publications Lion’s Roar, Elephant Journal, Patheos,and The Mighty.
Beth Herzig is a true “citizen of the world,” having lived in 3 U.S. States, 9 different countries on 4 continents by the time she completed her B.A. degree in English at Delta State University in Cleveland, MS. She now resides in Madison, MS with her two intelligent, beautiful daughters.
Besides being a small business owner and full-time mother, Beth has volunteered for many years with the Girl Scouts, where she is currently a Troop Leader and Service Unit Manager. She also volunteers her time and services generously to many other causes which are important to her.
Beth leads group meditations throughout the Jackson, MS, metro area and on-line. She is trained as a Meditation Leader in the Shamatha tradition. She completed Susan Piver’s Meditation Instructor Training (MIT), and has studied meditation and dharma practice with many renowned teachers, at Flowering Lotus and elsewhere. Beth has served on the Board of Directors of Flowering Lotus since 2017. She is currently Flowering Lotus’s Retreat Director, managing both residential and on-line meditation retreats throughout the year.
Daniel and Alicia talk about Baizhang and the Wild Fox. I invited my soon-to-be wife Alicia Marley onto the podcast again to talk about the second koan from the Gateless Barrier Collection. This is an odd koan with some magical things going on and the lesson might be a little hard to find. Our conversation ended up taking us pretty far afield from talking about the koan and we ended up asking questions like “is chanting important?” and “Can meditation make you a better criminal?”
I invited my soon-to-be wife Alicia Marley onto the podcast to talk about the first koan from The Gateless Barrier collection. She has no knowledge of zen koans, so I was wondering if her beginners perspective would help make things clear.
In this episode we talk about the title “The Gateless Barrier” (sometimes called The Gateless Gate, sometimes called The Barrier That Has No Gate) And we talk about the Koan that is called “Zhaozhou’s Dog”
I did a series of daily talks during the Covid-19 lockdown.
I wanted to do something during this crisis, something to try to help others (and myself). At first I thought it might be too ambitious to give talks every day, but I made it work and I’m pretty proud of the series. I had intended for it to end right at the end of the lockdown here in Kansas City, but the lockdown has been extended.
I’ll try something else next. Putting out this material has been good as far as giving me something to do, bringing something positive into the world when so many people are struggling with what’s going on.
What’s a Bodhisattva? A Bodhisattva is someone who is trying to unleash their potential for mindfulness and compassion. We’re on the Bodhisattva path because we’re trying our best.
This text “the 37 practices of a Bodhisattva” is a concise text written by a Tibetan teacher in the 14th century named Tokme Zangpo. It’s a summary of how we should behave as we are on the path to awakening. It’s like a list of 37 tips to help keep us on track.
Going through these every day has been enormously meaningful and helpful to me. I want to teach a class on this text at some point and I’m hoping an opportunity for that will appear.
So, I am sharing all of the videos here.
You don’t have to watch all of these and you don’t have to watch them in any order.
These teachings are offered free of charge, but if you feel compelled to make a donation to support this work, you can click here: