The Buddha and his Dysfunctional Family

The Buddha and his Dysfunctional Family


Just because a man is called “Sir,”

it does not mean he is free from habits and clinging. (Sn.620)

King Suddhodhana and Queen Mahamaya of Sakya engaged in the preparation of the birth of their child due to be born in the land of Koliya, east of the Sakyan kingdom of north India. While en route with her entourage, guards and servants to Koliya (the small kingdom of the Queen’s birth), Queen Mahamaya suddenly went into labour and gave birth to a baby boy under a sal tree in full blossom in the park in Lumbini on the full moon of May of 563 BC. Born into the warrior caste, Gautama had the duty to follow in his father’s footsteps and become the future king as well as enforce the military, political and religious institutions of the nation state. …

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The Wisdom of Political Action

The Wisdom of Political Action

Let him see each arisen state. Let him know that and be sure of that,

invincibly, unshakeably. (MN.131)

4763 words

In the space of two generations, Buddhism in Asia, as a force for tolerance, non-violence, kindness, and wisdom has declined significantly. Civil wars, authoritarian rule, violence and economic plundering have had a major impact on traditional Buddhist culture. The Chinese government has impacted upon the religious culture of Tibet while modernizing its mediaeval infrastructure. As Buddhism takes some form of rebirth in the West, it faces as great a challenge for renewal and revitalization as in the East. Many Buddhists, East and West, remain noticeably mute on issues such as climate change, war and cultural and environmental destruction. …

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Mindful Eating. Why are People Fat? And Getting Fatter

Mindful Eating.

Why are People Fat?

And Getting Fatter

My late mother said to me years ago in a memorable poetic one-liner. “We are digging our grave with a knife and fork.”

We live in a society of fat and sick people, unhappy with their body weight, unhappy with their diet and unhappy with their sense of worth as a human being.

Obesity contributes to the painful consequences of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, weakening of organs, especially kidney disease, depression, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and weakening of powers of the mind. Sickness and unhappiness due to unhealthy food consumption make enormous demands upon our beloved NHS (National Health Service).

Hereditary and genetic factors only contribute to a small percentage of such ills in body and mind.

Research in the UK shows that two out of every three adults are overweight or obese. The government defines obesity as 20% above an ideal weight for the height and BMI (body mass index). A BMI of 25-29.9 makes a person overweight. A BMI of 30 or above classifies a person as obese.

For example, I am deliberately on the thin side. Male, 180 centimetres, weighing 66 kilograms. According to the government health department, my ideal weight should be 72 kilograms. I would need to be more than 86 kilogrammes to be classified as obese. That is 20 kilograms more than my current weight. Three times as many people in the UK have become obese since 1980.

Here are 30 conditions that contribute to becoming fatter and fatter with pointers to develop mindfulness of eating.

In alphabetical order:

  1. A poor diet affects the brain, the hormones and the biology of a human being. So people get fatter and fatter.
  2. An increase in levels of oxygen into the cells for extended period helps the metabolism to burn off excess calories.
  3. Children get fed unhealthy food from sugary drinks, colas, crisps and sweets to keep them quiet.
  4. Children often eat alone watching television or eat in the back of a car packaged food brought in from the local shop that affects their mood, teeth and growth.
  5. Diet, immediate environment, the production and promotion of junk food and drink impacts upon the mind generating dependency and addiction to unhealthy food and resistance to healthy food.
  6. Excessive talking while eating and TV meals feed unmindful eating.
  7. Food is cheaper than ever before. Junk food is kept and uneaten organic food gets thrown away after a few days. We spend around 10% of disposable income on food, not 25% as two generations ago.
  8. Habits in eating push the person onto constantly consuming the same kind of food and drink. It is a challenge to break the habit and introduce a healthy option.
  9. Many people engage in work using their mind with little application to physical exertion. Some people grow their own fruit and vegetables in the garden or allotments with walking to an allotment and digging becoming a form of exercise
  10. Millions believe they cannot afford to buy healthy, organic food, made locally. Change requires very prudent use of money – as two generations ago – for many families.
  11. Mindfulness needs to extend to every item in the kitchen cupboard and refrigerator to live a conscious and caring lifestyle.
  12. Mistaken belief is that low fat food contribute to losing weight. Difference between low fat and regular fat food and drink is small.
  13. More and more consumption of sugar, salt and fats, including saturated fat, impacts on health.
  14. More and more sugar consumption and alcohol consumption increases weight due to impact on hormones and cells contributing to obesity.
  15. Parents show a lack of creativity in making meals at home so children demand sweet things or food with little real food content.
  16. People believe that they do not have enough will power to get their weight down. This is a form of propaganda from the industry, who claim that every individual has will power and choice. The food industry view ignores the controlling influence of addiction and power of habits.
  17. People confuse painful mental sensations that unsettle the stomach region with  unsettling hunger pains.
  18. People consume more and more calories, especially found in processed food with numerous chemicals that impact on the cells of the body in harmful ways.
  19. People continue to eat the same amount of food as they get older. In their 20’s, the metabolism and physical exercise burnt off the calories. As people get to the 40s, 50s and older, the metabolism burns off far fewer calories. People get fatter and fatter because they are eating the same amount of food as a decade or more ago.
  20. People drink more and more fruit juices and sugary drinks. The mind/biology is unable to recognise too much sugar in such liquid drinks but can recognise more easily excessive sugar in solid foods. Fruit juices contribute to calorie intake.
  21. People eat half of their meals outside of home or buy take away meals with no knowledge of what has gone into the food and the way it was cooked.
  22. People gain more weight during major events, such as Christmas, weddings, holidays and eating in a group. People consume more food over a weekend or extended periods at home. Few lose weight despite future their resolutions while engaged in bouts of excessive or unhealthy eating.
  23. People spend more and more money on unhealthy food.
  24. People will consume more food when experiencing difficult emotions such as anxiety and agitation. They will tend to eat more due to difficult mind states, such as boredom and depression.
  25. Some very obese individuals/families parade themselves on television in competitions to lose weight week by week. Promoters treat them as human freaks like in the Victorian era and subject them to painful views or dismiss them from the show for not matching up to others. Dramatic weight loss, through will power, easily leads to a later reaction against, and the weight shoots back up.
  26. The body does not digest easily animal products, such as meat and cheese, and so weigh goes up.
  27. The food industry propagates the message that it is a person’s choice to become fatter and fatter. This view indoctrinates people into self-blame and lack of self-worth, so the industry can continue to poison slowly but surely a large and larger percentage of the population. Campaigns against the food industry and factory farms give support to health and survival for humans and animals, birds and fish.
  28. Too mjuch consumption of carbohydrates, such as in bread, does not digest easily with a kind of impact like glue on the cells. Weight will drop off naturally through modest changes in diet and amount of food consumed.
  29. Thin, and in some cases, pencil thin models, have been set up as the measurement of the ideal body in the West by the fashion and clothes industry.
  30. Unmindful eating contributes to weight gain. Fast eating, failure to chew the food well before swallowing and forgetting to leave space in the stomach for rapid digestion increases weight gain.

Mindful eating of healthy food, time spent outdoors and regular exercise, contribute to a balanced diet, a balanced weight and the sense of self-worth.

Wise counsel, co-operation and love contribute to a mindful diet and a healthy weight.

PS. It is important to bear in mind that some people appear heavy but that is simply a physical disposition. Such people with such a disposition may well eat a moderate and nutritious diet while living mindful lives, The experience much inner contentment. Be mindful not to be judgemental due to appearance.


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The Buddha of Mindfulness. The Politics of Mindfulness

The Buddha of Mindfulness.

The Politics of Mindfulness

3323 words

Ever since, Buddhist monks, nuns and Dharma teachers from the Theravada tradition brought mindfulness/meditation to the West, it has been received with open arms. A variety of retreats, course and programmes, residential and non-residential, take place throughout the West week in, week out. …

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