Everyday Dharma Week One – Know Your Potential – Lama Willa Miller

For the next 7 weeks this blog will include teachings and tips from the book Everyday Dharma: Seven Weeks to Finding the Buddha in You, by Lama Willa Miller. Everyday Dharma is designed to be akin to a spiritual manual.  We invite you to read along with us over the next seven weeks.  And, be sure to comment below and let us know how it’s going.

The word wisdom sounds so far away in time, like something that we will achieve later, after getting a head of gray hair, after years of life experience and effort. But it is really as close as your own mind. The Buddhist tradition identifies two kinds of wisdom: analytical wisdom and innate wisdom. While analytical wisdom is trained and developed, innate wisdom is always with you and can only be allowed to emerge. In Tibetan, one word for innate wisdom is yeshe, which means “primordial wisdom” or “always having known.” Primordial wisdom is a kind of knowing you have had since the day you were born. This wisdom is not something newly created in the mind or acquired from somewhere outside yourself. It is your wisdom-nature.

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- “discover your innate wisdom through meditation”

One of the most direct ways that Buddhists train to discover innate wisdom is through meditation. Meditation should follow us from the very beginning of a spiritual journey to the very end. One simple wisdom meditation is called the Three Arrivals. This is a very basic practice for discovering how to be simply aware; or, to put it in other terms, how to be simply present here and now. When we are simply present in the here and now, wisdom emerges naturally.”  – Lama Willa Miller from Everyday Dharma: Seven Weeks to Finding the Buddha in You 

Week One of Everyday Dharma, “Know Your Potential”,  includes exercises to help us become aware of our body, our breath, our struggles, and our gifts. This chapter also introduces a fundamental meditation called the “Three Arrivals”, which helps you to connect to your body, breath, and mind. The Three Arrivals is the foundation that the other practices are built upon. You can listen Lama Willa’s guided version of the Three Arrivals for free on iTunes

Another exercise from the first week is to list three people you admire and then identify their good traits and characteristics. According to Lama Willa, “Emulating consciously or mindfully is a way to transform the inspiring people who surround you into prototypes for wise thought and action.”

“If you meet someone who causes your defects to wane, and your positive qualities to grow like a waxing moon, cherish that sacred friend more than your own body: that is the practice of a bodhisattva.” – Ngulchu Thogme 

Who are your heroes and what are their admirable traits? What kind things can you do for your body? Please feel free to share how  you are doing with Week 1 in the comments below.

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- Lama Willa Miller

Lama Willa Miller received a doctorate from Harvard University in Religion, and is currently Visiting Lecturer in Buddhist Ministry at Harvard Divinity School. Her academic teaching interests include Tantra and the Body, Buddhism and Ecology, and Buddhist Contemplative Care, among other topics. She is the founder of Natural Dharma Fellowship in Boston and Wonderwell Mountain Refuge in Springfield, New Hampshire.

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