To those of you who are struggling with doubt about meditation practice, if you believe that your life conditions are too intense, too chaotic for practice to bear fruit, I would like to offer some reassurance. At age three, my son was diagnosed with autism. It is distressing to see your child unable to cope with everyday situations, to see them overcome with fear and anxiety to the point of real violence, to not be able to socialise with other families in ways you’d once taken for granted, to view the future with deep uncertainty. But most of all, the diagnosis brought me face to face with my own conditioning, my own insistences, my preferences for life to unfold the way I wanted it to.… Continue reading...
Stoicism and parenting an autistic child
Another school run, another test from the Stoic gods. I had just finished listening to The Stoic Test Challenge by William Irvine, as I drove through the narrow, winding lanes and up to the school where I took two attempts to reverse park under the disapproving gaze of an impatient mum. The Stoic test I had been expecting was underway.
Irvine explains that the Stoic test is a way of reframing setbacks. Instead of bewailing our fortunes, we see problems as an opportunity to exercise Stoic values of resilience, resourcefulness, patience, and tranquility. We can then take satisfaction from how competently we resolve problems and, more importantly, how calm we remain while doing so. It is a wiser path to meaning and contentment than compensating for our hardships with pleasure, disgruntlement, and entitlement (none of which work).… Continue reading...
“Sati is not heavy, not harsh, not rigid. It is supple, light, invisible. It has not flavor of its own. It is uncontracted, unmanipulative attention that allows phenomena to arise and pass according to their own nature without the tethers of reactivity and control.”
—Jesse Maceo Vega-Frey, Insurgent Heart
There’s a fascinating dharma book available on Kindle called Insurgent Heart: A Vipassana Manual for the Guerrilla Yogi. Jesse Maceo Vega-Frey is a student of Michele McDonald, who invented the RAIN acronym. Jesse teaches vipassana in the tradition of Mahasi Sayadaw.
The book is unique in that it reclaims the martial metaphors of the Buddhist canon with a surprisingly apt twist: he uses asymmetrical guerrilla warfare as an analogy for Buddhist meditation in lay life.… Continue reading...