Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Building Bridges: A World Religions Program for 8th-9th Grades

Taking It Home: Buddhism 2: Right Living

Don't use what you learn from Buddhism to be a Buddhist; use it be a better whatever-you-already-are. — His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso

IN TODAY'S WORKSHOP... we discussed Buddhism, in particular, Zen Buddhism. We wrestled to obtain meaning from a koan that was both serious and funny. We talked about the concept of a bodhisattva, and thought about ways we could bring more compassion and loving kindness into our lives.


  • Where and when do you feel most peaceful?


Taming the Monkey Mind

The tendency of the human brain to flash from one idea to another is often referred to in Buddhism as the "monkey mind." Most of us understand this immediately: Even when we try to concentrate on something we really like, our thoughts can be unmanageable, leaping around like a monkey. Today's media reinforce short attention spans, and our monkey minds grow more ungovernable by the day. The Buddhist answer? Meditation.

Bringing focus and stillness to our minds on a regular basis, even for short periods, will increase our attention spans over time and allow us to give energy to whatever is most important to us, escaping the tyranny of the monkey mind.

Try a sitting meditation for just 10 minutes a day. If you miss a day, just take it up again the next day. Overall consistency is what is important. Set a timer or an alarm clock so you do not have to check the time. Sit comfortably with your back supported, or lean against a meditation pillow, so you can completely relax. Try to relax your body totally. Clear your thoughts and concentrate only on your breathing. In... out ... in... out. Do not force anything. Do not change anything. Just observe. If your thoughts wander (and they will!), gently bring them back. After a few sessions of this brief time meditating, see if you are feeling calmer and more centered.

Eight Verses for Training the Family

Review the Eight Verses for Training the Mind. While they may seem foreign to us in some respects, these teachings support peaceful relationships, especially among people who fundamentally trust each other. Perhaps you can apply the precepts of the Eight Verses to your own life. They may also prove beneficial to your family.

With members of your family, or with a group of friends, undertake to rewrite the Eight Verses in language that makes sense to you. Paraphrase the ideas in a way that might help you frame how to think about, live in harmony with, and benefit each other. When you have the verses in a form you like, post them in a shared place in your home, so you all can be reminded.

Peace in the World

When you have undertaken something so important and valuable, why not share it with others? Once you have the Eight Verses in a form that is powerful and useful to you, share it! If you have an email account, use an especially wonderful fragment of your version of the Eight Verses as your email signature. If you have a Facebook page or a blog, post it there. Write about it for a school assignment. Send it to a newspaper as a letter to the editor, or to a website promoting world peace. Spread your own message of peace, love, and understanding!