Christopher Titmuss Dharma Blog

A Buddhist Perspective

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I received an e-mail on a person’s response to challenging emotional states. Here is the email and my reply.

I received this email – a reminder of the benefits of spiritual practice/mindfulness/meditation and the support it provides in emotionally challenging situations.

Here is the email along with a short response from myself. The writer gave me permission to post her email on the blog.

Dear Christopher,

Last week, I experienced the most emotionally challenging situation in some years with intense feelings of sadness, despair, anger and overwhelm. In the midst of it, I also noticed change.

Would I have found myself in this situation some years ago, I would not have had faith in the fact that this too will change. The mental state of despair would have lasted for days if not weeks and would have resulted in nights without sleep and mental and physical exhaustion.

This is not my experience anymore.

Instead, whilst still experiencing quite intense suffering, there is something inside me that knows that this will not last. That just like everything, this feeling of despair will go away and be replaced by joy again. I now know what to do in a situation like this: Go out and walk. Look at nature and wildlife. Talk to friends. Concentrate on bodily sensations, even if it’s just possible for a few seconds to remain with these. Not beating myself up for how I feel and act. Not beating myself up for not sitting down to meditate. Not being ashamed.

In this difficult situation, I strangely experienced a feeling of happiness that I had not experienced before. I felt a gentle flame burning inside of me that didn’t want to be extinguished, not even in this situation of despair. A deep willingness to be alive in this world with all its suffering and beauty. For a short while, I was even thankful for this suffering, because it had shown me a resilience inside of me, I hadn’t felt in this way before.

This resilience has slowly developed over the last years and to know that it will grow even bigger in the years to come fills me with joy.

I am writing this text knowing that I might not feel this hopeful in an hours time, but what I do know is that there is something inside of me now that can never be taken away again.

There will be situations where I won’t be able to feel this way, but I do know that this doesn’t mean this light inside me is not here anymore – it is only invisible to me for a short while and will become visible again.

The change that has taken place inside me didn’t happen by accident. Some years ago, at the lowest point of my life, I was lucky (and persistent) enough to find a good therapist. I started practicing meditation and became interested in Buddhism. In the last year, my practice deepened through the help of very good teachers. I could not have done this by myself.

During these last years, I have learned some lessons. I forget them frequently, sometimes on a daily basis-hence I am writing them down for moments when I can’t see clearly.

  1. There is always light. If you can’t see it today, look for it again tomorrow. And the day after tomorrow.

2) Don’t hide your true feelings. Get help from outside if needed. Friends, a therapist, a teacher. Or a dog.

3) If you don’t feel like going for a walk, force yourself. If you can’t force yourself, don’t beat yourself up about it. In fact, don’t beat yourself up about anything. Just try again tomorrow.

4) If you’re caught between pride and love, choose love.

5) What other people think about you is none of your business.

6) Change inside can change every situation. Yet it sometimes needs outer change, in order to start inner change.

7) Listen.

8) In the darkest of your nights, go outside and hug a tree. It might not help, but surely the tree won’t mind anyway.

9) Your childhood might determine how easily you can be happy. It does NOT determine WHETHER you can be happy.

10) Fear is not a good advisor.

11) If you feel a purely positive impulse inside of you arising, don’t hesitate and wait for your mind to supply you with reasons not to act.Follow it.

12) You don’t help other people by making their problems your own. You help by being there, listening and keeping your calm.

13) Everything changes.

Love

Dear ..

Thank you for your very thoughtful reflection.

Your wise responses to the arising of emotions that can oppress consciousness develop a deepening of your trust in your capacity to accommodate these troubling moods – like dark and stormy clouds.

Wisdom knows that what arises will pass. The application of exposure to the light makes such a difference – outdoors, nature, creatures, friends, witnessing body sensations, formless days rather than formal meditation and remembering a thought is just a thought. You pinpointed key features for transition out of the dark cloud.
The dark thought comes from the mood not from the space found in exposure to the light.
Your resilience shines through. 
You wrote a beautiful statement. It would be worth your reading aloud as a statement of light – both in joyful times, quiet times and during the time when a cloud blocks the sunshine.
Your understanding of the dynamics of arising and passing will benefit others going through the same dynamics.
Love,
Christopher

www.christophertitmuss.net/donations

 



International Zoom Teachings/Practices. Noble Eightfold Path. Once a month start 8 January 2022. Organised in Israel.

An exploration of the Noble Eightfold Path provides an opportunity to appreciate the depth and breadth of the Buddha’s teachings through direct experience.

Every link bears a direct relationship to our daily life. The path points to a goal – wisdom, a fulfilled life and liberation from a problematic mind. Continue reading 



New Year Resolutions and Through the Year. Name your Resolution and Start to Apply Immediately. Here are around 30 resolutions this blogger made in the last three decades. Plus Tips

2022 has begun. Readers may entertain thoughts about New Year’s Resolutions.

We embark upon a resolution, big or small, to bring about a change in our life, often centred around renunciation, reduction or giving up certain kinds of behaviour or patterns. Continue reading 



Zoom Weekend Retreat, Friday 23 July to 25 July, 2021. Mindfulness. Meditation. On Donation.

Friday evening 23 July evening to Sunday afternoon at 25 July 2021.

Theme: Benefits of Mindfulness and Benefits Beyond Mindfulness

All are welcome. New and experienced meditators.

Retreat with Christopher Titmuss

Continue reading 



Twelve Points for the Sangha of Practitioners in Israel and elsewhere

I had a Skype meeting on Monday morning with Tamar Adelstein, 41, who is the new managing director for Tovana, Israel’s leading Dharma network.

Tamar has recently taken over from Ron Alon, who had 15 years of experience with the role. As well as teaching, he did a remarkable job supporting Israeli teachers, international teachers and Tovana’s vision.

With Tamar, he has a worthy successor. She has a wealth of international experience, studied law and gives support for those in need. Along with formal Dharma practice, she draws from her experience in Japan, Sri Lanka and Australia, as well as being a wife and mother of three children.

Tamar and I had a lengthy discussion via Skype. She had a variety of important questions knowing that I have 30 years of annual visits to Israel. Tovana’s senior and much loved teacher, Stephen Fulder is also reducing his time as the eldest administrator of Tovana after three decades in his role  with the Tovana board. Stephen has a new book out in English FIVE POWERS OF MIND. His transition also forms a feature of the evolution giving more responsibility to others.

After talking with Tamar, I wrote down a few points as loving reminders for Tovana and its extensive network. The points apply to Sanghas (Gatherings of Practitioners) , wherever the Dharma takes root.

Twelve Points for the Sangha of Practitioners in Israel and Elsewhere

1. Centres and practitioners must evolve or end up narrow minded and sectarian.
2. Tovana is in a major period of its evolution. You (Tamar) have joined at the right time, although challenging. There is extra stress for Sanghas/centres worldwide due to impact of Covid-19. We need to be patient with each other.
3. Personal retreats with a resident teacher is part of the evolution as use of the rented centre at Ein dor expands following a successful appeal for funds.
4. Teachers must exercise their authority in terms of length of time of stay of a solitary retreatant with regular inter-views with the teacher.
5. The biggest duality is between retreat and daily life. Teachers, managers and Dharma seniors need to co-operate to show the way to bridge this gap.
6. Retreats, techniques, methods can truly serve the practitioner; the practitioner does not become a canary in the cage of retreats.
7. Tovana has a foundation of ethics/mindfulness/meditation and heart/wisdom teachings for an awakened life. This is a core feature of Tovana and the Dharma.
8. Tovana offers teachings/practices without walls. Practitioners receive support and encouragement if they also explore yoga, psychotherapy, ordination, travel to the East, faith in God, pilgrimage and lifestyle. Non-violent politics support the poor and marginalised.  An engaged Sangha in Israel includes listening and responding to the plight of the people In Palestine – Gaza, West Bank and refugee camps in neighbouring countries.
9. Teachings include freedom to use the language of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and freedom not to use the same language of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Know your audience. Know your readers.
10. Dharma/meditation/mindfulness in Asia can find itself a bit lost in Buddhism, temples and religious beliefs. Dharma in the West can find itself equally lost in Secularism, neuroscience, and psychology – at the expense of the spiritual, the sacred and enlightening realisations. This way of life supports non-violence, non-abuse and dwells respectful to people, animals and the environment/resources.
11. Dharma offers a free spirited way of life. This view applies whether a practitioner is single, in a relationship, has a family, ordained as a monk or nun, of any religious faith or none.
12. Liberals and Conservatives are welcome in Tovana. Liberals need to stay receptive to fresh ways of contemporary explorations and wise approaches. Conservatives need to keep a mindful eye on the best of the 2600-year-old Buddhist tradition and draw directly from the 10,000 discourses of the Buddha. One example: Every link in the Noble Eightfold Path matters equally rather than limiting the Dharma to mindfulness and meditation.
Finally, let us never forget, we, the servants of the Dharma, have a wide range of resources, within and outside the tradition, to support our capacity to abide in a fulfilled way of life. We set no limits to the inquiry into life. Liberation reveals the Limitless.

Continue reading 




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