Bodhi Mind Reflection

My Spiritual Journey

Randal Henzler (Chung Lun 傳倫)

Amituofo Sangha.  I offer my story of how my contentment and happiness have increased over the past nine years.  I give every ounce of credit to my spiritual journey.  It’s been a hard, slow, and painful journey so far.  It includes periods of stagnation and even regression as well as progress.  Things aren’t perfect yet – but they are much, much better.

First a reminder.  Each of us is on our own, unique, spiritual journey.  Personal causes and conditions – our karma – place us in this present moment with our specific combination of abilities, needs, aspirations, and resources.  It’s my experience that it doesn’t work to follow another’s spiritual path.  What’s required is to enter the spiritual forest and forge my own path.  Even Lord Buddha, king among teachers, truly just points the direction – and gives us inspiration.  So this is just MY story, not advice.

Quick bio.  Pretty much all I do is work on my spiritual practice.  I live alone, am not in a serious relationship, have excellent relations with my two adult children and ageing parents.  My finances are sufficient.  My health is good.  I discovered spirituality during a catastrophic marriage explosion nine years ago.  At that time, I was highly intellectual, emotionally retarded, physically fit, and lived in a spiritual wasteland thanks to my Catholic upbringing.  I discovered Buddha Jewel monastery seemingly by accident during my divorce.  I didn’t know anything about Buddhism.  For several years, I spent a lot of time at the monastery.  Took every dharma course that was offered, attended ceremonies, helped with maintenance, went to every onsite retreat, took the 3 Refuges and 5 Precepts, learned to put on my robe and how to prostrate.  Many things I encountered at the monastery seemed odd or confusing to me (e.g. the Heart Sutra…hello!), yet I had a distinct sense there was something profound to it all.  During those years I moved away from my toxic relationship environment.  My spiritual journey was underway.

What followed has been an eclectic exploration of spirituality.  I stopped visiting the monastery, I can’t recall why.  I began to study spiritual teachings from a diverse group of teachers across the spiritual landscape:  Buddhism, Hinduism, Shamanism, Christianity and some new-age stuff.  I study the science of Western psychology as well as the philosophy of the East.  I am more learned in Theravada Buddhism than Mahayana.  No spiritual teacher I have ever encountered recommends this eclectic approach.  Better to choose one discipline and deep dive.  Oh well, I do what works for me.  I’m just sharing my story.

And there’s my meditation practice which has also been all over the board in terms of technique and commitment.  It’s just been the last two or three years that I have been reliably meditating half hour morning and evening every day.  I also attend meditation retreats three or four times a year.  This rigor has really helped me.  Abbess Jian Yan Shifu once said, “You should meditate half hour every day unless you’re very busy…….then you should meditate an hour”. I’ve matured to understand how right she is.

The biggest shift in the quality of my practice is when I began to find ways to bring my spiritual practice into the ‘non-spiritual’ parts of my life.  I’ve come to see that the separation between my practice and my ‘real life’ is not helpful for either.  With the separation, my practice too often got left out because I deemed other aspects of my life more important.

Two slogans exemplify the root of my practice.  What two?

  1. Know my mind just as it is
  2. Keep calmly knowing change

Abbess Jian Yan Shifu said it even simpler when she taught the ABC idea the first week of class.   ‘B’ is ‘Being with it’.

There are five areas where I focus.  Here are the five.

Effort.  This is the fourth paramita Shifu taught us.  She uses ‘diligence’ but we both mean the same thing: virya.  Sloth and torpor is one of Buddhism’s five hindrances.  I see these in me as my natural state.  If I don’t very consciously exert effort, I will wallow in a spiritual treading-water state.  I need to strive ardently; patiently but persistently.  That being said, I’m reminded of Shifu’s story about the strings of a lute.  Nothing causes more regress than when I apply too much effort in my practice.  Then my string is too tight and breaks.  It’s a balancing act for me, a constant challenge, to find that ‘middle path’ of effort.

Renunciation.  I’m no monk.  I have my sensual delights.  Early in my practice I tried giving them all up – to great disaster.  As I’ve matured in my practice, I’ve come to accept the more ‘middle path’ with my sensual delights – with my cravings and clinging.  I use renunciation daily very strategically, making small commitments to lessening my attachments.  I’ve found that’s the only way I can be successful.  And I am, but progress is slow.  Some attachments I even accept, at least for now.  I wish I could do better in this area, but I can’t.

Speech.  It pains me to notice how poorly I handle my speech.  Intellectually, I totally get what I’m supposed to do.  No lying, no gossip, no idle talk, speak only at the appropriate time, don’t speak with a twist, etc.  But for some reason words come out of my mouth, or into my texts or emails, that are often not wholesome.  I expend serious effort trying to correct this.  It dismays me how I fall back again and again into ‘wrong speech’.  I once shared with a teacher that I was struggling to remain silent during a 10-day retreat (which is required).  He smiled and said, “Silence is easy….compared with right speech”.

View.  This is my favorite area of practice focus.  Shifu spoke about dualistic views and shared the story of the horse trainer – the man who said ‘maybe’ when his friends gave their view of situations.  My nature is to hold on to my views very strongly, to be attached to my views.  It’s as if I believe I have a phone line with God and have been imbued with ‘the Truth’.  I have my views about my body, the environment, politics, society, finances, justice… goes on and on. Though it seems to me I determine my views after careful listening, rational contemplation, and deep analysis, this is not so. They are a result of prior causes and conditions and not ‘mine’ at all.  Simon and Garfunkel song lyrics from The Rock:  A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.  I’m sure the Buddha would agree.  More than any other reason, I see the cause of my discontent and unhappiness to be attachment to my views.  It feels very liberating when I am able to let my views go.  The Buddha once said in the Pali Canon (in the context of metaphysical speculation), “I hold the view that leads to no quarreling with others”.  I really like that attitude.

Awareness.  This is Shifu’s “A” in the important ABC idea she taught us, and it is key for my contentment and happiness.  My monkey mind feeds me thoughts, completely without my permission and uninvited, and then through its clever means, can sweep me away for long moments or even hours at a time.  This happens on and off the cushion.  This is the most difficult part of my practice.

Here are some specific things I do or did to increase my contentment and happiness.

  • Read Dan Harris’ 10% Happier book. He taught me it’s ok to have doubts, ok to be skeptical, ok to struggle – and that the fruits of the spiritual effort will come.
  • ‘Meditate’ / Practice awareness while I am engaged in mindless activities of my life. When I am washing dishes, chopping vegetables, brushing my teeth, for example.  When I am able to stay present during those kinds of tasks, I have brought my practice into my ‘real life’.
  • Rent my home rather than own it. I was a home owner for decades and know the time and attention that takes.  There are downsides to renting of course, but it is simpler and less distracting.  This opens more space for my practice.
  • Have a gong chime at random times. I use the website, and every 15-60 minutes it will sound a gong which shocks me into awareness if I’ve been swept away by my monkey mind.
  • Write pithy sayings on flashcards. These are mostly sayings from spiritual talks or books, but I have some from Shakespeare (There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so), John Milton (The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven), and lots from Buddha Jewel (The fool adjusts the body, the wise adjusts the mind).  I have amassed hundreds of flashcards and continue to add more.  I flip through them instead of engaging in social media, news, music, or movies.  I tape a fair number of them in places around my home: on my bathroom mirror, my refrigerator handle, my desk.  My flashcards are an important aid in helping me stay aware.
  • Shrink my possessions. Fewer things lead to fewer distractions.  When I moved into my home I made this proclamation:  I will not let anything cross my threshold that I don’t either need or have an attachment to.  It took three months and the pleading of my son before I bought a microwave.  If I add a book or a pair of pants, I will donate one I already have.  I periodically walk through my home challenging myself to find ten things I can let go of.  It’s not easy, but I feel lighter, freer; I carry less anchor.
  • Listen to dharma talks. I used to listen to music or the news.  Then I discovered the public library is filled with spiritual audiobooks.  Youtube also has a zillion dharma talks.  When I’m doing mindless tasks like cleaning or cooking, I have a talk playing.  When I exercise, same.  Most importantly, when I’m driving.  I used to feel discontent and anger when I drove.  Now I drive in the slow lane, give myself ample time to get to my destination, and seep myself in the dharma.
  • Read spiritual books. Like listening to dharma talks, these are hugely helpful for my practice.  I read a wide range of religious/spiritual authors as I said.  I find a lot of the same ideas expressed from different perspectives, which is helpful.  Where I find differences, I contemplate them which deepens my practice.
  • Look for opportunities for solitude. The popular press and political science say we are social beings.  I find great spiritual progress in solitude.  Society it distracting for me.
  • Attend meditation retreats. These hurt but are very helpful to me.
  • Attend Buddha Jewel online course twice a week. Shifu offers our course twice each week.  I attend both sessions whenever I’m available.  I learn most during the second listening.
  • Restrain my senses. For example, if I’m working on reducing my craving for sugar, I skip the cookie aisle while shopping in the grocery store.  If I’m working on my lust, I don’t go to the beaches when I suspect beautiful bodies will be there.  This is the primary way I make progress on renunciation.
  • Consider repulsive aspects. In the example above, I may imagine myself as a diabetic or obese.  I may focus attention on what human bodies look like just 1/8 inch under the skin.  This is another tool that helps my renunciation practice.
  • Eat attentively. Instead of distracting myself by reading, talking, or watching, I eat in silence trying to remain attentive to the sight, smell, taste, and texture of each mouthful of food I eat.  If I am trying to restrain the quantity of food I eat, I attempt to stop eating “five mouthfuls before I’m full”.
  • Study the famous Satipatthana Sutta. First taught to me by Shifu, it contains different techniques to raise awareness/mindfulness during meditation.  This has helped my meditation practice more than anything else.
  • Keep a Self-Discipline log. Each month I list the dozen or so behaviors I particularly want to focus on increasing, decreasing, or maintaining.  My two meditation sessions are on the list every month.  Same with exercise.  Each day I put a smiley face or a frown next to each behavior.  I’ve been doing this for years.  It really helps me nudge forward.

And finally, I feel it’s important to mention that I’m not very good at my spiritual practice.  I think I started too late in life – I have so much conditioning and such a rigid mind.  Nevertheless, I keep this flashcard on my meditation cushion, read it, and move it twice a day when I meditate:  “No matter how hard it is; no matter how long it takes”.



Randal Henzler (Chung Lun 傳倫)



簡單自我介紹一下。我做的大多是心靈生活上的修行。我獨居、沒有認真的交往對象、和兩個成年孩子及年邁雙親保持絕佳的關係。我的經濟條件充足、健康良好。我在九年前災難性的婚變中發現禪修。當時的我高智商、低情商、身材適中,天主教家庭的成長過程讓我置身於心靈荒原中。在離婚期間,我意外的發現佛寶寺,當時的我,對佛教一無所知。之後有好幾年,我花很多時間在精舍,上每一堂開設的課程、出席法會、幫忙維修、參與禪修、受三皈五戒、學習搭衣和如何頂禮。許多在精舍遇到的事對我來說似乎都很奇特或困惑(例如:心經⋯⋯哈囉!) ,但我能清楚的感受到,一定有些深奧微妙的道理在其中等待我去發掘。在那幾年,我遠離毒害我的環境,進入我的心靈之旅。





  1. 如實了知自己這念心
  2. 平靜地接受無常

住持見眼師父在第一週上課教正念ABC 時說得更簡化,「B」(Being with it) 就是「面對」。








  • 閱讀丹·哈里斯「快樂,多10%就足夠」一書。他教我有疑問、持懷疑態度或努力掙扎都是好的,這樣才可收穫精神付出的果實。
  • 「禪修」。在生活中不用動腦的活動中練習保持覺性,例如洗碗時、切菜時、刷牙時。當我可以在那些事中活在當下,我就把修行帶入「真實人生」了。

  • 租屋取代擁有房屋。過去數十年中我有自己的房子,因此了解維護房子要花費很多時間和精力。當然租屋也有缺點,但相較之下簡單許多也較不需分神照顧,這讓我有更多空檔修行。

  • 不定時的磬響。我用這個網站,每15到60分鐘,會有磬聲響起,讓我警覺自己是否又跟著猿心跑了。

  • 在卡片上抄錄佳句。大部分都是摘自心靈談話或書籍,但也有少數來自莎士比亞(事無好壞,好壞由心)、約翰•彌爾頓(心自有乾坤,能轉地獄為天堂、化天堂為地獄),還有許多來自佛寶寺(愚者調身,智者調心)。我已累積數百張小卡,而且在繼續增加中,我用翻閱它們來取代使用社交媒體、看新聞、聽音樂或看電影。我在家中各處張貼不少卡片:浴室鏡子、冰箱把手、書桌等。我的卡片是幫助我保持覺性的重要幫手。

  • 縮簡物品。越少東西就越少分心。當我搬進現在的居處時,我鄭重的告訴自己:我絕不讓任何我不需要或我會執著的東西進入我的家門。經過三個月的考慮加上兒子的懇求,我才買微波爐。如果我增加一本書或一條褲子,我就會捐出已有的一件。我定期在家中四處巡走並挑戰自己去找十件可以捨離的東西。這並不容易,但我覺得更輕鬆、更自由;身上的擔子也更輕了。

  • 聽佛法開示。我以前會聽音樂或新聞,後來發現公立圖書館有許多心靈有聲書。YouTube也有億萬筆佛法開示。當我做不須動腦的事,例如打掃或煮飯時,我就邊聽開示,運動時也是。最重要的是在我開車時,以前我開車常覺得不滿或生氣,現在我會開在慢車道,讓自己在抵達目的地前有充分時間浸潤在佛法中。

  • 看心靈方面的書籍。跟聽佛法開示一樣,這對我修行有很大幫助。我閱讀範圍廣泛的宗教與心靈相關書籍。我從不同面向中找到許多相同的觀點,這頗有幫助。當我發現不同點時,我會加以思考藉以深化修行。

  • 尋找獨處機會。媒體和政治學說我們是社交動物,我卻在獨處時找到巨幅的精神成長。社會會分散我的注意力。

  • 參加禪修。雖然很痛但對我很有幫助。

  • 一週上兩次佛寶寺線上課程。師父一週開兩堂課,只要有空我兩堂都上。在第二次重複聽課時,我學到最多。

  • 收攝六根。例如當我努力減少對糖的貪戀時,我會在購物時跳過餅乾走道。如果我在克制慾念上下功夫,我就不去海灘,因為我想那裏會有漂亮誘人的胴體。這是我在「放下」上進步的主要方法。

  • 負向思考。在上面的例子中,我可能會把自己想成糖尿病或肥胖者。我可能專注地想人的皮膚下八分之一寸的地方是什麼樣子。這是另一個幫助我放下的方法。

  • 專心吃飯。我用安靜專心地吃飯取代閱讀、講話或東看西看,並試著專注地感受色、香、味,和每一口食物的口感。如果我想節制所吃的量,我試著在「吃飽前五口」停下不吃。

  • 學習有名的《念住經》。一開始是師父教我,在靜坐時可以用不同的方法提起覺性/正念。這比其他任何方式都更有益於我的靜坐練習。

  • 製作自律檢核表。每個月我列出約十幾項我想特別強化、避免或維持的行為。跟運動一樣,我的每日兩次靜坐計畫每個月都在清單上。每天我會在每個行為後標示笑臉或哭臉 ,我已這樣做好幾年了。這個自律表確實給了我向前進的動力。