Best of "Buddhist quote of the moment"

Buddhist quote of the moment - it changes regularly. I will update this file if I remember ...

"Bhikkus, suppose a man in the course of a journey saw a great expanse of water, whose near shore was dangerous and fearful and whose further shore was safe and free from fear, but there was no ferryboat or bridge going to the far shore...And then the man collected grass, twigs, branches, and leaves and bound them together into a raft, and...got safely to the far shore. Then, when he had got across and had arrived at the far shore, he might think thus: "This raft has been very helpful to me...Suppose I were to hoist it on my head or load it on my shoulder, and then go wherever I want."...By doing so, would that man be doing what should be done with that raft?"

"No, venerable sir."

"...So I have shown you how the Dhamma is similar to a raft, being for the purpose of crossing over, not for the purpose of grasping."

Alagaddupama Sutta, in The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, trans. by Bhikku Bodhi


"Shantideva...mentions specific instances when it is advisable to remain like a mindless piece of wood. We can do this when our mind is very distracted or when the thought arises to belittle, slander, or abuse others. If pride, haughtiness or the intention to find fault with others arises, we can also remain impassive until our deluded motivation fades. Feeling pretentious, thinking to deceive others and wishing to praise our own qualities, wealth, or possessions are all occasions when it is wise to pretend that we are made out of wood. Whenever we have the desire to blame others, speak harshly or cause disruption we should practice this technique of non-reaction. "

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Meaningful to Behold


"If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people. To be born means that something which did not exist comes into existence. But the day we are "born" is not our beginning. It is a day of continuation. But that hould not make us less happy when we celebrate our "Happy Continuation Day."

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Since we are never born, how can we cease to be? This is what the Heart Sutra reveals to us. When we have a tangible experience of non-birth and non-death, we know ourselves beyond duality. The meditation on "no separate self" is one way to pass through the gate of birth and death.

Your hand proves that you have never been born and you will never die. The thread of life has never been interrupted from time without beginning until now. Previous generations, all the way back to single-celled beings, are present in your hand at this moment. You can observe and experience this. Your hand is always available as a subject for meditation. "

Present Moment, Wonderful Moment by Thich Nhat Hanh


The near enemies are qualities that arise in the mind and masquerade as genuine spiritual realization, when in fact they are only an imitation, servin to separate us from true feeling rather than connecting us to it...

The near enemy of lovingkindness is attachment...At first, attachment may feel like love, but as it grows it becomes more clearly the opposite, characterized by clinging, controlling, and fear.

The near enemy of compassion is pity, and this also separates us. Pity feels sorry for "that poor person over there," as if he were somehow different from us...

The near enemy of sympathetic joy (the joy in the happiness of others) is comparison, which looks to see if we have more of, the same as, or less than another...

The near enemy of equanimity is indifference. True equanimity is balance in the midst of experience, whereas indifference is a withdrawal and not caring, based on fear...

If we do not recognize and understand the near enemies, they will deaden our spiritual practice. The compartments they make cannot shield us for long from the pain and unpredictability of life, but they will surely stifle the joy and open connectedness of true relationships.

Jack Kornfield, A Path with Heart


Tibetan Teachings on death & rebirth by Lama Ole Nydhal

Huge list of Buddhist resources at Buddhanet


When I read that the Dalai Lama was to speak at a conference, I noticed that his name was preceded by the letters "H.H." I asked someone what those letters stood for, and I was told, "His Holiness." It's also the respectful title bestowed upon the Pope.

I began to wonder why the Dalai Lama and the Pope got to be His Holiness, and not the rest of us. To be sure, these spiritual leaders are very holy - but are they more holy than anyone else? Do the Dalai Lama or the Pope have any more God in them than the people who mop their floors? I imagine they would agree that we are all equally holy in the eyes of God.

I met a man who called everyone he met, "Buddha". "How are you doing today, Buddha?" he would ask me. "Beautiful sunset, don't you think, Buddha?" At first I felt jarred by his magnanimous appellation. Then I began to really like it. It felt better than "Dude".

This month, the month of May, we celebrate Buddha's birthday. Buddha was very holy. One of his students asked Buddha, "Are you the messiah?"

"No", answered Buddha.

"Then are you a healer?"

"No", Buddha replied.

"Then are you a teacher?" the student persisted.

"No, I am not a teacher."

"Then what are you?" asked the student, exasperated.

"I am awake", Buddha replied.

The goal of Buddhism, like any self-respecting spiritual path, is not to have titles or to make distinctions between degrees of holiness; it is to wake up. I love the famous Buddhist admonition, "If you see the Buddha on the road, kill him." This means that if you try to single out the Buddha and confine him to one form at the expense of all others, you have severely missed the point, and you must do away with your concept that this is the Buddha and all else is not.

The story is told of a holy man who lived in a large house on top of a remote mountain. Over time, news of the holy man's greatness spread throughout the land, and many seekers made their way over the mountains in hopes of having even a brief moment with this saintly being.

Each aspirant was greeted at the door by a servant, who ushered him or her into the house, and guided the visitor through several rooms. After a few minutes the servant and aspirant arrived at another door, which led out of the back of the house. The servant opened the door and indicated to the visitor that it was time to leave.

"But I was hoping to have even a few minutes with the holy man!" the aspirant would utter in frustration.

"You just did," answered the holy man as he closed the door.

The insecure mind takes refuge in hierarchies of spirituality, seeking to segment the universe into levels of power and worth. The Spirit of Love, on the other hand, will have none of the hierarchy game; all is God, all is powerful, all is spiritual, and all is worthy. As the third Zen Patriarch Hsin Hsin Ming declared, "The great way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. Make the slightest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart."

The "His Holiness" concept got me to thinking about other appellations of respect. Take "Your Honor", the title attributed to judges. Certainly judges merit honor, but are the other people in the courtroom any less honorable? I suggest that judges address the criminals before them as "Your Honor" as well; perhaps this practice would bring forth the honor within them. Most criminals were not treated with respect as children; beginning now might call forth their innate integrity. A Course in Miracles tells us that all actions are either pure expressions of love or calls for love. Addressing criminals as "Your Honor" might begin to satisfy that call in a healthy way.

Then there is "Your Majesty", "Your Grace", and "Your Highness", offered to royalty. Does that mean that everyone else is not majestic, graceful, or high? Hopefully not.

I've been thinking about what title I would like. I choose "Your Eminence".I like that because it implies that I emanate. That is my goal: to emanate. To emanate life, light, and joy. I don't care that much about being an Honor, Grace, Highness, or even Holiness; "Eminence" really makes my boat float.

So from now on, if you write, fax, email, or talk to me, I respectfully request that you address me as "Your Eminence". And when it comes time for me to address you, I'll do the same. Either we all emanate together, or none at all.

Okay, Buddha?

-----
About The Author

Alan Cohen is the author of 14 popular inspirational books including the award winning A Deep Breath of Life.

Check out Alan's web site at www.alancohen.com


For excerpts from Awakening the Buddha within - click here.

This file also may tend to grow in size. :)


180. Having accumulated suffering for no purpose Because of my honoring and serving this body, What use is attachment and anger For this thing that is similar to a piece of wood?

181. Whether I am caring for my body in this way, Or whether it is being eaten by vultures, It has no attachment or hatred towards these things - Why then am I so attached to it?

182. If (my body) knows no anger when derided And no pleasure when praised, For what reason Am I wearing myself out like this?

Shantideva, A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life, trans. by Stephen Batchelor


The purpose of meditation is not to concentrate on the breath, without interruption, forever. That by itself would be a useless goal. The purpose of meditation is not to achieve a perfectly still and serene mind. Although a lovely state, it doesn't lead to liberation by itself. The purpose of meditation is to achieve uninterrupted mindfulness. Mindfulness, and only mindfulness, produces Enlightenment.

Distractions come in all sizes, shapes and flavors. Buddhist philosophy has organized them into categories. One of them is the category of hindrances. They are called hindrances because they block your development of both components of meditation, mindfulness and concentration. A bit of caution on this term: The word "hindrances" carries a negative connotation, and indeed these are states of mind we want to eradicate. That does not mean, however, that they are to be repressed, avoided, or condemned.

Let's use greed as an example. We wish to avoid prolonging any state of greed that arises, because a continuation of that state leads to bondage and sorrow. That does not mean we try to toss the thought out of the mind when it appears. We simply refuse to encourage it to stay. We let it come, and we let it go.

Henepola Gunaratna, Mindfulness in Plain English


"People often confuse meditation with prayer, devotion, or vision. They are not the same. Meditation as a practice does not address itself to a deity or present itself as an opportunity for revelation. This is not to say that people who are meditating do not occasionally think they have recieved a revelation or experienced visions. They do. But to those for whom meditation is their central practice, a vision or a revelation is seen as just another phenemenon of consciousness and as such is not to be taken as exceptional. The meditator would simply experience the ground of consciousness, and in doing so avoid excluding or excessively elevating any thought or feeling. To do this one must release all sense of the "I" that might think it is privileged to communicate with the divine."

Gary Snyder, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Vol. I, #1

Tricycle website


If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are. "Interbein g" is a word that is not in the dictionary yet, but if we combine the prefi x "Inter-" with the verb "to be," we have a new verb, inter- be....

Looking even more deeply, we can see ourselves in this sheet of paper too. Th is is not difficult to see, because when we look at a sheet of paper, it is part of our perception. Your mind is in here and mine is also. So we can say that ev erything is in here with this sheet of paper. We cannot point out one thing that is not here - time, space, the earth, the rain, the minerals in the soil, the s unshine, the cloud, the river, the heat. Everything coexists with this sheet of paper.

Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step


Click here for some wisdom from the 14th Dalai Lama


"To sum up: First: a vivid state of mental tranquility and a sustaining energy together with a discerning intellect are indispensable requirements for attaining perfect insight. They are like the first steps of a staircase."

"Second, all meditation, with or without form, must begin from deeply aroused compassion and love. Whatever one does must emerge from a loving attitude for the benefit of others."

"Third, through perfect seeing, all discrimination is dissolved into a nonconceptual state."

"Finally, with an awareness of the void, one sincerely dedicates the results for the benefit of others. I have understood this to be the best of all ways."

The Life of Milarepa, trans. by Lobsang P. Lhalunga


I remember a short conversation between the Buddha and a philosopher of his time.

"I have heard that Buddhism is a doctrine of enlightenment. What is your method? What do you practice everyday?"

"We walk, we eat, we wash ourselves, we sit down."

"What is so special about that? Everyone walks, eats, washes, sits down..."

"Sir, when we walk, we are aware that we are walking; when we eat, we are aware that we are eating...When others walk, eat, wash, or sit down, they are generally not aware of what they are doing."

Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Keys


When I realize that the question, "What is right livelihood?" arises out of the idea/feeling of being a separate entity with its inevitable feelings of insecurity, insufficiency, discontent, guilt, loneliness, fear, and wanting, doesn't it follow inevitably that I yearn for a livelihood that will compensate me for what I feel lacking and hurting inside?...When our habitual ideas and feelings of separation begin to abate in silent questioning, listening, and understanding, then right livelihood ceases to be a problem. Whatever we may be doing during the twenty-four hours a day, be it work for money or work for fun, service, leisure, creation or recreation, cleaning toilets, or nothing at all, the doing now, this moment of no separation, is the fulfillment and it affects everyone and everything everywhere. Nothing else is more worthwhile. Everyone and everything is inextricably interweaving in this mysterious fabric called life

Toni Packet, in Claude Whitmyer's Mindfulness and Meaningful Work


Most writings on the doctrine of karma emphasize the strict lawfulness governing karmic actions, ensuring a close correspondence between our deeds and their fruits. While this emphasis is perfectly in place, there is another side to the working of karma - a side rarely noted, but so important that it deserves to be stressed and discussed as an explicit theme in itself. This is the modifiability of karma, the fact that the lawlessness which governs karma does not operate with mechanical rigidity but allows for a considerable wide range of modifications in the ripening of the fruit.

If karmic action were always to bear fruits of invariably the same magnitude, and if modification or annulment of karma-result were excluded, liberation from the samsaric cycle of suffering would be impossible; for an inexhaustiible past would ever throw up new obstructive results of unwholesome karma.

Nyanaponika Thera, The Heart of Buddhist Meditation


It is possible to take our existence as a "sacred world," to take this place as open space rather than claustrophobic dark void. It is possible to take a friendly relationship to our ego natures, it is possible to appreciate the aesthetic play of forms in emptiness, and to exist in this place like majestic kings of our own consciousness. But to do that, we would have to give up grasping to make everything come out the way we daydream it should. So, suffering is caused by ignorance, or suffering exagerated by ignorance or ignorant grasping and clinging to our notion of what we think should be, is what causes the "suffering of suffering." The suffering itself is not so bad, it's the resentment against suffering that is the real pain.

Allen Ginsberg, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Vol. II, #1


According to Buddhism for a man to be perfect there are two qualities that he should develop equally: compassion on one side, and wisdom on the other. Here compassion represents love, charity, kindness, tolerance and such noble qualities on the emotional side, or qualities of the heart, while wisdom would stand for the intellectual side or the qualities of the mind. If one develops only the emotional neglecting the intellectual, one may become a good-hearted fool; while to develop only the intellectual side neglecting the emotional may turn one into a hardheaded intellect without feeling for others. Therefore, to be perfect one has to develop both equally. That is the aim of the Buddhist way of life: in it wisdom and compassion are inseparably linked together.

Walpola Rahula, What the Buddha Taught


Intelligent practice always deal with just one thing: the fear at the base of human existence, the fear that I am not. And of course I am not, but the last thing I want to know is that. I am impermanence itself in a rapidly changing human form that appears solid. I fear to see what I am: an ever-changing energy field. I don't want to be that. So good practice is about fear. Fear takes the form of constantly thinking, speculating, analyzing, fantasizing. With all that activity we create a cloud cover to keep ourselves safe in make-believe practice. True practice is not safe; it's anything but safe. But we don't like that, so we obsess with our feverish efforts to achieve our verison of the personal dream. Such obsessive practice is itself just another cloud between ourselves and reality. The only thing that matters is seeing with an impersonal searchlight: seeing things as they are. When the personal barrier drops away, why do we have to call it anything? We just live our lives. And when we die, we just die. No problem anywhere.

Charlotte Joko Beck, Everyday Zen


Interview with Tenzin Palmo June, 2000 plus excerpts from Cave in the Snow


J  "People with opinions just go around bothering one another" - Buddha   [

Click here for more


When we trust with our open heart, whatever occurs, at the very moment that it occurs, can be perceived as fresh and unstained by the clouds of hope and fear. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche used the phrase, "first thought, best thought" to refer to that first moment of fresh perception, before the colorful and coloring clouds of judgment and personal interpretation take over. "First thought" is "best thought" because it has not yet got covered over by all our opinions and interpretations, our hopes and fears, our likes and dislikes. It is direct perception of the world as it is. Sometimes we discover "first thought, best thought" by relaxing into the present moment in a very simple way.

Jeremy Hayward, Tricycle:The Buddhist Review, Vol. IV, #3


An indispensable foundation for meditation practice is following certain moral precepts. It is a way of maintaining a basic purity of body, speech, and mind. The five precepts which should be followed are: not killing, which means refraining from knowingly taking any life, not even swatting a mosquito or stepping on an ant; not stealing, which means not taking anything which is not given; refraining from sexual misconduct...not lying or speaking falsely or harshly; and not taking intoxicants...Following these precepts will provide a strong base for the development of concentration, and will make the growth of insight possible.

Joseph Goldstein, The Experience of Insight


We try so hard to hang on to the teachings and "get it," but actually the truth sinks in like rain into very hard earth. The rain is very gentle, and we soften up slowly at our own speed. But when that happens, something has fundamentally changed in us. That hard earth has softened. It doesn't seem to happen by trying to get it or capture it. It happens by letting go; it happens by relaxing your mind, and it happens by the aspiration and the longing to want to communicate with yourelf and others. Each of us finds our own way.

Pema Chodron, Start Where You Are


In spiritual life there is no room for compromise. Awakening is not negotiable; we cannot bargain to hold on to things that please us while relinquishing things that do not matter to us. A lukewarm yearning for awakening is not enough to sustain us through the difficulties involved in letting go. It is important to understand that anything that can be lost was never truly ours, anything that we deeply cling to only imprisons us.

Christina Feldman and Jack Kornfield, Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart


"Discipline" is a difficult word for most of us. It conjures up images of somebody standing over you with a stick, telling you that you're wrong. But self-discipline is different. It's the skill of seeing through the hollow shouting of your own impulses and piercing their secret. They have no power over you. It's all a show, a deception. Your urges scream and bluster at you; they cajole; they coax; they threaten; but they really carry no stick at all. You give in out of habit. You give in because you never really bother to look beyond the threat. It is all empty back there. There is only one way to learn this lesson, though. The words on this page won't do it. But look within and watch the stuff coming up - restlessness, anxiety, impatience, pain - just watch it come up and don't get involved. Much to your surprise, it will simply go away. It rises, it passes away. As simple as that. There is another word for self-discipline. It is patience.

Henepola Gunaratna, Mindfulness in Plain English


Some people practice throughout their entire lives just by paying attention to breathing. Everything that is true about anything is true about breath; it's impermanent; it arises and it passes away. Yet if you didn't breathe, you would become uncomfortable; so then you would take in a big inhalation and feel comfortable again. But if you hold onto the breath, it's no longer comfortable, so you have to breathe out again. All the time shifting, shifting. Uncomfortableness is continually arising. We see that everything keeps changing.

Sylvia Boorstein, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Vol. II, #1


Most people think of enlightenment as a kind of magical attainment, a state of being close to perfection. At this level, one can perform amazing feats, see past and future lives of others, and tune in to the inner workings of the universe. This may be possible for a number of special beings, but for most of us enlightenment is much more in line with what Suzuki Roshi describes. It means having a quality of "beginningness," a fresh, simple, unsophisticated view of things. To have "beginner's mind" in how we approach things is a major teaching. In many ways, the process of enlightenment is clearing away the thoughts, beliefs, and ideas that cloud our ability to see things as they really are in their pristine form.

David A. Cooper, Silence, Simplicity and Solitude


Imagine walking along a sidewalk with your arms full of groceries, and someone roughly bumps into you so that you fall and your groceries are strewn over the ground. As you rise up from the puddle of broken eggs and tomato juice, you are ready to shout out, "You idiot! What's wrong with you? Are you blind?" But just before you can catch your breath to speak, you see that the person who bumped you is actually blind. He, too, is sprawled in the spilled groceries, and your anger vanishes in an instant, to be replaced by sympathetic concern: "Are you hurt? Can I help you up?"

Our situation is like that. When we clearly realize that the source of disharmony and misery in the world is ignorance, we can open the door of wisdom and compassion. Then we are in a position to heal ourselves and others.

B. Allan Wallace, Tibetan Buddhism from the Ground Up


"And what, monks, is Right Effort? Here, monks, a monk rouses his will, makes an effort, stirs up energy, exerts his mind and strives to prevent the arising of unarisen evil unwholesome mental states. He rouses his will...and strives to overcome evil unwholesome mental states that have arisen. He rouses his will...and strives to produce unarisen wholesome mental states. He rouses his will, makes an effort, stirs up energy, exerts his mind and strives to maintain wholesome mental states that have arisen, not to let them fade away, to bring them to greater growth, to the full perfection of development. This is called Right Effort."

Mahasatipatthana Sutta: The Greater Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness, in Thus Have I Heard: The Long Discourses of the Buddha, trans. by Maurice Walshe


Building a Community of Love


We can demonstrate that hte experience of steady practice influences the quality of our lives, but the nature of the essential urge toward enlightenment is enlightenment itself. The very fact that we are intrigued with the spiritual quest stems from the source of the Light, so to speak. Consequently, enlightenment is not an end; it is truer to say that it is the beginning.

David A. Cooper, Silence, Simplisity and Solitude


A...great distraction at times are so-called "running commentary" thoughts such as, "Now I am not thinking of anything," "Things are going very well now," "This is dreadful; my mind just won't stay still" and the like...All such thoughts should simply be noted as "Thinking," and, as Huang Po says, just "dropped like a piece of rotten wood." "Dropped," notice, not thrown down. A piece of rotten wood is not doing anything to irritate you, but is just of no use, so there is no point in hanging on to it...Nor is there any need to try to retrace the links in a chain of associated thoughts, nor to try to ascertain what it was that first started the chain. Any such impulse should itself be noted simply as "Thinking," and the mind should revert to the breathing. However badly things have just been going, one should take up again at the only place one can - where one is - and go on from there.

Bhikku Mangalo, The Practice of Recollection


Upon the oxen of a mind free from doubt I put the yoke and plow of skillful means and wisdom. Steadfastly I hold the reins without distraction. Cracking the whip of effort, I break up the clods of the five poisons.
I cast away the stones of a defiled heart,
And weed out all hypocrisy.
I cut the stalks and reap the fruit of action
Leading to liberation...
Realization does not arise out of words.
Understanding does not come from mere suggestions.
I urge all those who work for Enlightenment
To meditate with perseverance and effort.
Endurance and effort overcome the greatest of difficulties.
May there be no obstacles for those who seek Enlightenment.

The Life of Milarepa, trans. by Lobsang P. Lhalunga


During the student uprising in Burma, when the soldiers entered a temple to roust out dissidents, they would take off their shoes yet hold onto their guns. They were showing respect to the Buddha, while overlooking the dharma. It's essential to be accountable for our actions and not overlook the dharma in any domain.

Sharon Salzberg, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Vol. II, #3


Right aspiration is what develops in the mind once we understand that freedom of choice is possible. Life is going to unfold however it does: pleasant or unpleasant, disappointing or thrilling, expected or unexpected, all of the above! What a relief it would be to know that whatever wave comes along, we can ride it out with grace. If we got really good at it, we could be like surfers, delighting especially in the most complicated waves.

What Right Aspiration translates to in terms of daily action is the resolve to behave in a way that stretches the limitis of conditioned repsonse. If I want to build big biceps, I need to use every opportunity to practice lifting weights. If I want to live in a way that is loving and generous and fearless, then I need to practice overcoming any tendency to be angry or greedy or confused. Life is a terrific gym. Every situation is an opportunity to practice. In formal Buddhist language, this is called the cultivation of nonhatred, nongreed, and nondelusion.

Sylvia Boorstein, It's Easier Than You Think


Mindfulness is present-time awareness. It takes place in the here and now. It is the observance of what is happening right now, in the present moment. It stays forever in the present, perpetually on the crest of the ongoing wave of passing time. If you are remembering your second-grade teacher, that is memory. When you then become aware that you are remebering your second-grade teacher, that is mindfulness. If you then conceptualize the process and say to yourself, "Oh, I am remembering," that is thinking.

Henepola Gunaratna, Mindfulness in Plain English


The Dharma of the Buddha is not found in books. If you want to really see for yourself what the Buddha was talking about you don't need to bother with books. Watch your own mind. Examine to see how feelings come and go, how thoughts come and go. Don't be attached to anything, just be mindful of whatever there is to see. This is the way to the truths of the Buddha. Be natural. Everything you do in your life here is a chance to practice. It is all Dharma. When you do your chores try to be mindful. If you are emptying a spittoon or cleaning a toilet don't feel you are doing it as a favor for anyone else. There is dharma in emptying spittoons. Don't feel you are practicing only when you are sitting cross-legged. Some of you have complained that there is not enough time to meditate. Is there enough time to breathe? This is your meditation: mindfulness, naturalness in whatever you do.

Achaan Chaa, in Jack Kornfield's Living Dharma


The enlightenment of the Buddha was not primarily a religious discovery. It was not a mystical encounter with "God" or a god. It was not the reception of a divine mission to spread the "Truth" of "god" in the world. The Buddha's enlightenment was rather a human being's direct, exact, and comprehensive experience of the final nature and total structure of reality. It was the culmination for all time of the manifest ideals of any tradition of philosophical exploration or scientific investigation. "Buddha" is not a personal name; it is a title, meaning "awakened," "enlightened," and "evolved." A Buddha's enlightenment is a perfect omniscience. A buddha's mind is what theists have thought the mind of God would have to be like, totally knowing of every single detail of everything in an infinite universe, totally aware of everything - hence by definition inconceivable, incomprehensible to finite, ignorant, egocentric consciousness.

Robert A. F. Thurman, Essential Tibetan Buddhism


For a true spiritual transformation to flourish, we must see beyond [the] tendency to mental self-flagellation. Spirituality based on self-hatred can never sustain itself. Generosity coming from self-hatred becomes martyrdom. Morality born of self-hatred becomes rigid repression. Love for others without the foundation of love for ourselves becomes a loss of boundaries, codependency, and a painful and fruitless search for intimacy. But when we contact, through meditation, our true nature, we can allow others to also find theirs.

Sharon Salzberg, Lovingkindness


There's a Zen story in which a man is enjoying himself on a river at dusk. He sees another boat coming down the river toward him. At first it seems so nice to him that someone else is also enjoying the river on a nice summer evening. Then he realizes that the boat is coming right towards him, faster and faster. He begins to get upset and starts to yell, "Hey, hey watch out! For Pete's sake, turn aside!" But the boat just comes faster and faster, right toward him. By this time he's standing up in his boat, screaming and shaking his fist, and then the boat smashes right into him. He sees that it's an empty boat.

This is the classic story of our whole life situation.

Pema Chodron, Start Where You Are


The Buddhist path is designed to reveal ever deeper levels of reality. We live in a pluralistic society. We live in a racist society, a homophobic and sexist society; in addition, Buddhists of every color, each gender, and all sexual orientations embrace the sectarian prejudices that developed in Asia. We live in a society that is pleading for us to put our shoulders to the wheel. We are also, each and every one of us, whole and perfect as is, interrelated, essentially non-separated, and equal. This, too, must be realized. If we forsake the inside for the outside, it is not just Buddhism that is diminished but the horizons for true social transformations as well.

Helen Trorkov, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Vol. IV, #1


Remember that your thoughts are transformed into speech and action in order to bring the expected result. Thought translated into action is capable of producing a tangible result. You should always speak and do things with mindfulness of lovingkindness...

For all practical purposes, if all of your enemies are well, happy and peaceful, they would not be your enemies. If they are free from problems, pain, suffering, affliction, neurosis, psychosis, paranoia, fear, tension, anxiety, etc., they would not be your enemies. Your practical solution toward your enemies is to help them to overcome their problems, so you can live in peace and happiness. In fact, if you can, you should fill the minds of all your enemies with loving kindness and make all of them realize the true meaning of peace, so you can live in peace and happiness. The more they are in neurosis, psychosis, fear, tension, anxiety, etc., the more trouble, pain, and suffering they can bring to the world. If you could convert a vicious and wicked person into a holy and saintly individual, you would perform a miracle. Let us cultivate adequate wisdom and loving kindness within ourselves to convert evil minds to saintly minds.

Henepola Gunaratna, Mindfulness in Plain English


"And what, monks, is the Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering? It is that craving which gives rise to rebirth, bound up with pleasure and lust, finding fresh delight now here, now there: that is to say sensual craving, craving for existence, and craving for non-existence."

"And where does this craving arise and establish itself? Wherever in the world there is anything agreeable and pleasurable, there this craving arises and establishes itself."

"And what is there in the world that is agreeable and pleasurable? The eye in the world is agreeable and pleasurable, the ear...the nose...the tongue...the body...the mind in the world is agreeable and pleasurable, and there this craving arises and establishes itself. Sights, sounds, smells, tastes, tangibles, mind-objects in the world are agreeable and pleasurable, and there this craving arises and establishes itself."

Mahasatipatthana Sutta: The Greater Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness, in Thus Have I Heard: The Long Discourses of the Buddha, trans. by Maurice Walsh


As Shantideva says, there are many beings to whom one can make charity, but there are very few beings with respect to whom one can practice patience, and what is more rare is more valuable. An enemy is really most kind. Through cultivating patience one's power of merit increases, and the practice of patience can only be done in dependence upon an enemy. For this reason, enemies are the main instigators of the increase of meritorious power. An enemy is not someone who prevents the practice of religion but someone who helps practice.

The Dalai Lama, The Meaning of Life from a Buddhist Perspective


One finds that no matter how sincere one's intention to be attentive and aware, the mind rebels against such instructions and races off to indulge in all manner of distractions, memories and fantasies...The comforting illusion of personal coherence and continuity is ripped away to expose only fragmentary islands of consciousness separated by yawning gulfs of awareness...The first step in this practice of mindful awareness is radical self-acceptance.

Such self-acceptance, however, does not operate in an ethical vaccuum, where no moral assessment is made of one's emotional states. The training in mindful awareness is part of a Buddhist path with values and goals. Emotional states are evaluated according to whether they increase or decrease the potential for suffering. If an emotion, such as hatred or envy, is judged to be destructive then it is simply recognized as such. It is neither expressed through violent thoughts, words or deeds, nor is it suppressed or denied as incompatible with a "spiritual" life. In seeing it for what it is - a transient emotional state - one mindfully observes it follow its own nature: to arise, abide for a whie, and then pass away.

Stephen Batchelor, The Awakening of the West


The moment we want happiness, we start to cling to it in our mind. First, we cling to our own idea of happiness. We relate to the outside world as a source of satisfaction and look outward for the things we normally associate with happiness - accumulating wealth, success, fame or power. As soon as we become attached to any idea - happiness, success or whatever - there is already some stress. Clinging is itself a stressful state, and everything that derives from it is also stressful. For example, try to clench your hand to make a fist. As soon as you start to clench your hand, you have to use energy to keep your fingers clenched tightly. When you let go of the clenching, your hand is free again. So it is with the mind. When it is in a state of clenching, it can never be free. It can never experience peace or happiness, even if one has all the wealth, fame and power in the world.

Thynn Thynn, Living Meditation, Living Insight


Buddhism stands unique in the history of human thought in denying the existence of...a Soul, Self, or Atman. According to the teaching of the Buddha, the idea of self is an imaginary, false belief which has no corresponding reality, and it produces harmful thoughts of "me" and "mine," selfish desire, craving, attachment, hatred, ill-will, conceit, pride, egoism, and other defilements, impurities and problems. It is the source of all the troubles in the world from personal conflics to wars between nations. In short, to this false view can be traced all the evil in the world.

Walpola Rahula, What the Buddha Taught


The Buddha's teaching is all about understanding suffeing - its origin, its cessation, and the path to its cessation. When we contemplate suffering, we find we are contemplating desire, because desire and suffering are the same thing.

Desire can be compared to fire. If we grasp fire, what happens? Does it lead to happiness? If we say: "Oh, look at that beautiful fire! Look at the beautiful colors! I love red and orange; they're my favorite colors," and then grasp it, we would find a certain amount of suffering entering the body. And then if we were to contemplate the cause of that suffering we would discover it was the result of having grasped that fire. On that information, we would hopefully, then let the fire go. Once we let fire go then we know that it is something not to be attached to. This does not mean we have to hate it, or put it out. We can enjoy fire, can't we? It is nice having a fire, it keeps the room warm, but we do not have to burn ourselves in it.

Ajahn Sumedho, Teachings of a Buddhist Monk


The core of Dharma practice is freeing oneself from the attachments of this life. It focuses on the deeper issue of gaining complete release from discontent by means of freeing our minds from the afflictions of confusion, attachment, and anger. In a broader sense, Dharma practice is concerned with serving others, in terms of both their temporary and ultimate needs.

Does this mean that one who is committed to Dharma suddenly renounces all worldly enjoyments - no more vacations, no entertainment, no sensory pleasures? No. If one tries that approach it usually results in spiritual burnout; and the common rebound is equally extreme sensual indulgence.

For this reason, the practice of Buddhist Dharma is often called the Middle Way because it seeks to avoid the extremes of sensual indulgence and severe ascetism. The former leads to perpetual dissatisfaction and the latter damages one's physical and mental health...The Middle Way is a sensitive exertion of effort that is neither lax nor aggressive, and from this practice there ultimately arises an increasing satisfaction and delight in virtuous activity that is a result of our spiritual transformation.

B. Allan Wallace, Tibetan Buddhism from the Ground Up


One sure clue as to whether we're being motivated by aspiration or expectation is that aspiration is always satisfying; it may not be pleasant, but it is always satisfying. Expectation, on the other hand, is always unsatisfying, because it comes from our little minds, our egos. Starting way back in childhood, we live our lives looking for satisfaction outside ourselves. We look for some way to conceal the basic fear that something is missing form our lives. We go from one thing to another trying to fill up the hole we think is there.

Charloote Joko Beck, Everyday Zen


When you dwell in stillness, the judging mind can come through like a foghorn. I don't like the pain in my knee...This is boring...I like this feeling of stillness; I had a good meditation yesterday, but today I'm having a bad meditation...It's not working for me. I'm no good at this. I'm no good, period. This type of thinking dominates the mind and weighs it down. It's like carrying around a suitcase full of rocks on your head. It feels good to put it down. Imagine how it might feel to suspend all your judging and instead to let each moment be just as it is, without attempting to evaluate it as "good" or "bad." This would be true stillness, a true liberation.

Meditation means cultivating a non-judging attitude toward what comes up in the mind, come what may.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are


The experience of the practice itself teaches us that any conception or ideal of awakened being can only be a hindrance - neither practice nor awakening is about ideas or images. And yet, however limited the finger-pointing at the moon, still we point, we turn to one another for direction. So I have come to think that if the bodhisattva's task is to continue to practice until every pebble, every blade of grass, awakens, surely the passions, difficult or blissful, can also be included in that vow. And if awakening is also already present, inescapably and everywhere present from the beginning, how can the emotions not be part of that singing life of grasses and fish and oil tankers and subways and cats in heat who wake us, furious and smiling, in the middle of the brief summer night?

Jane Hirshfield, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Vol. IV, #3


We need to understand the concept of practice and what makes it spiritual. Practice is an activity that is regularly performed and is an open-ended process, never reaching a point of perfection. We can develop skills or even mastery with practice, but there always remains a quality of something new to learn.

If approached with a dull mind, even the most exotic practice becomes a rote expression. A person could spend a lifetime in practice this way and accomplish no more than a perfunctory exterior form without any spiritual substance. Unfortunately, many people find themselves following a traditional practice for the wrong reasons. They make all the right moves, but there is no heart in it.

We should approach the most mundane practice with a bright, open beginner's mind and regularly discover new insights, whether brushing our teeth, washing the dishes, or making the bed.

David A. Cooper, Silence, Simplicity and Solitude


Whether people are beautiful and friendly or unattractive and disruptive, ultimately they are human beings, just like oneself. Like oneself, they want happiness and do not want suffering. Furthermore, their right to overcome suffering and be happy is equal to one's own. Now, when you recognize that all beings are equal in both their desire for happiness and their right to obtain it, you automatically feel empathy and closeness for them. Through accustoming your mind to this sense of universal altruism, you develop a feeling of responsibility for others: the wish to help them actively overcome their problems. Nor is this wish selective; it applies equally to all.

The Dalai Lama, Cmpassion and the Individual


Imagine walking along a sidewalk with your arms full of groceries, and someone roughly bumps into you so that you fall and your groceries are strewn over the ground. As you rise up from the puddle of broken eggs and tomato juice, you are ready to shout out, "You idiot! What's wrong with you? Are you blind?" But just before you can catch your breath to speak, you see that the person who bumped you is actually blind. He, too, is sprawled in the spilled groceries, and your anger vanishes in an instant, to be replaced by sympathetic concern: "Are you hurt? Can I help you up?"

Our situation is like that. When we clearly realize that the source of disharmony and misery in the world is ignorance, we can open the door of wisdom and compassion. Then we are in a position to heal ourselves and others.

B. Allan Wallace, Tibetan Buddhism from the Ground Up


Suppose we use a travelling metaphor for the universal spiritual quest. The main map the Buddha offered for the trip to happiness and contentment is called the Eightfold Path, but I have often thought it should be called the Eightfold Circle. A path goes from here to there, and the nearer you are to there, the farther you are from here. A path is progressive...on a genuine path you would need to start at the beginning and proceed in a linear way until the end. With a circle, you can join in anywhere, and it's the same circle.

When the Buddha taught this path, he said it had a specific number of constituent parts; people could be sure they were going the right way if they saw any one of the eight special markers...The order in which the traveler sees the signs doesn't matter. If we look at any sign closely, it becomes apparent that each one has all of the others hidden inside it. Even a tiny bit of Right Understanding, the suspicion that it is possible to be contented even when we aren't pleased, arouses Right Aspiration to make a lot of Right Effort to develop more Right Understanding...It's all connected.

Sylvia Boorstein, It's Easier Than You Think


Bodhidharma brought Zen Buddhism from India to China. He was well known for being fierce and uncompromising. There is a story about how he kept nodding off during meditation, so he cut off his eyelids. When he threw them on the ground, they turned into a tea plant, and then he realized he could simply drink the tea to stay awake! He was uncompromising in that he wanted to know what was true, and he wasn't going to anybody else's word for it. His big discovery was that by looking directly into our own heart, we find the awakened Buddha, the completely unclouded experience of how things really are.

Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times


Some people think that Buddhist practice and meditation are about stopping thoughts. As the saying goes, if that were true, a coconut would be enlightened..... Let's remember that upon attaining enlightenment the Buddha smiled. This is very important. He didn't have to smile. He could have grimaced or remained neutral, but he smiled..... After reading Milarepa 25 times I had the insight that Mila was in fact a comedian.

- Prof Robert Thurman, talking in Cleveland


Morality as taught by way of rules is extremely powerful and valuable in the development of practice. It must be remembered first that it, like all the techniques in meditation, is merely a tool to enable one to eventually get to that place of unselfishness where morality and wisdom flow naturally. In the West, there's a myth that freedom means free expression - that to follow all desires wherever they take one is true freedom. In fact, as one observes the mind, one sees that following desires, attractions, repulsions is not at all freedom, but is a kind of bondage. A mind filled with desires and grasping inevitably entails great suffering. Freedom is not to be gained through the ability to perform certain external actions. True freedom is an inward state of being. Once it is attained, no situation in the world can bind one or limit one's freedom. It is in this context that we must understand moral precepts and moral rules.

Jack Kornfield, Living Dharma


Practice is twofold. The first part is training; the second is the act itself. And these are not two things: when you train, the act itself is happening, when you are the act itself, your training is deepened.

Practice is to work "as if." The lawyer practices as if she or he were and attorney. The doctor practices as if she or he were a physician. Being and learning are one and the same.

It is just as though you were trying to play the piano with Mozart's hands. At first such action "as if" is awkward, but with practice your music becomes your own best creation. In the same way, your zazen becomes your own best inspiration, and your interaction with others expresses the love which has been in your heart from the very beginning.

Robert Aitken, Encouraging Words


In traditional Buddhist texts the five energies of Lust, Aversion, Torpor, Restlessness and Doubt are called "Mind Hindrances"...because they obscure clear seeing, just as sandstorms in the desert or fog on a highway can cause travelers to get lost. They hinder the possibility of us reconnecting with the peaceful self that is our essential nature. They confuse us. We think they are real. We forget that our actual nature is not the passing storm. The passing storm is the passing storm. Our essence remains our essence all the time.

Five different energies seem like a limited menu, but they present themselves in an infinite variety of disguises. Ice cream sundaes are different from pizzas are different from sex, but fundamentally they are all objects of the lustful desire...Grumbly mind is grumbly mind; sleepy mind is sleepy mind; restless mind is restless mind; doubtful mind is doubtful mind.

The fact that it's in the nature of minds for storms to arise and pass away is not a problem...[It] helps in keeping the spirits up to remember that the weather is going to change. Our difficult mind states become a problem only if we believe they are going to go on forever.

Sylvia Boorstein, It's Easier Than You Think


One finds that no matter how sincere one's intention to be attentive and aware, the mind rebels against such instructions and races off to indulge in all manner of distractions, memories and fantasies...The comforting illusion of personal coherence and continuity is ripped away to expose only fragmentary islands of consciousness separated by yawning gulfs of awareness...The first step in this practice of mindful awareness is radical self-acceptance.

Such self-acceptance, however, does not operate in an ethical vaccuum, where no moral assessment is made of one's emotional states. The training in mindful awareness is part of a Buddhist path with values and goals. Emotional states are evaluated according to whether they increase or decrease the potential for suffering. If an emotion, such as hatred or envy, is judged to be destructive then it is simply recognized as such. It is neither expressed through violent thoughts, words or deeds, nor is it suppressed or denied as incompatible with a "spiritual" life. In seeing it for what it is - a transient emotional state - one mindfully observes it follow its own nature: to arise, abide for a whie, and then pass away.

Stephen Batchelor, The Awakening of the West


Most of the time we go through the day, through our activities, our work, our relationships, our conversations, and very rarely do we ground ourselves in an awareness of our bodies. We are lost in our thoughts, our feelings, our emotions, our stories, our plans. A very simple guide or check on this state of being lost is to pay attention to those times when you feel like you are rushing. Rushing does not have to do with speed. You can rush moving slowly, and you can rush moving quickly.

We are rushing when we feel as if we are toppling forward. Our minds run ahead of ourselves; they are out there where we want to get to, instead of being settled back in our bodies. The feeling of rushing is good feedback. Whenever we are not present, right then, in that situation, we should stop and take a few deep breaths. Settle into the body again. Feel yourself sitting. Feel the step of a walk. Be in your body.

The Buddha made a very powerful statement about this; "Mindfulness of the body leads to nirvana." Such awareness is not a superficial practice. Mindfulness of the body keeps us present.

Joseph Goldstein, Transforming the Mind, Healing the World


Ancient Pali texts liken meditation to the process of taming a wild elephant. The procedure in those days was to tie a newly captured animal to a post with a good strong rope. When you do this, the elephant is not happy. He screams and tramples, and pulls against the rope for days. Finally it sinks through his skull that he can't get away, and he settles down. At this point you begin to feed him and to handle him with some degree of safety. Eventually you can dispense with the rope and post altogether, and train your elephant for various tasks. Now you've got a tamed elephant that can be put to useful work. In this analogy the wild elephant is your wildly active mind, the rope is mindfulness, and the post is our object of meditation, our breathing. The tamed elephant who emerges from this process is a well-trained, concentrated mind that can then be used for the exceedingly tough job of piercing the layers of illusion that obscure reality. Meditation tames the mind.

Henepola Gunaratna, Mindfulness in Plain English


All results come from causes that have the ability to create them. If we plant apple seeds, an apple tree will grow, not chili. If chili seeds are planted, chili will grow, not apples. In the same way, if we act constructively, happiness will ensue; if we act destuctively, problems will result. Whatever happiness and fortune we experience in our lives comes from our own positive actions, while our problems result from our own destructive actions.

According to Buddhism, there is no one in charge of the universe who distributes rewards and punishments. We create the causes by our actions, and we experience their results. We are responsible for our own experience. The Buddha didn't create the system of actions and their effects, in the same way that Newton didn't invent gravity. Newton simply described what exists. Likewise, the Buddha described what he saw with his omniscient mind to be the natural process of cause and effect occurring within the mindstream of each being. By doing this, he showed us how best to work within the functioning of cause and effect in order to experience happiness and avoid pain.

Thubten CHodron, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Vol. VI, #3


Cultivating the mind is very much like cultivating a crop. A farmer must know the proper way to prepare the soil, sow the seed, tend to the growth of the crop, and finally harvest it. If all these tasks are done properly, the farmer will reap the best harvest that nature allows. If they're done improperly, an inferior harvest will be produced, regardless of the farmer's hopes and anxieties.

Similarly, in terms of meditation it is crucial to be thoroughly versed in the proper method of our chosen technique. While engaged in the practice, we must frequently check up to see whether we are implementing the instructions we have heard and conceptually understood. Like a good crop, good meditation cannot be forced, and requires cultivation over time.

B. Allan Wallace, Tibetan Buddhism fron the Ground Up


In a well-known phrase, the Buddha said, "Hatred can never cease by hatred. Hatred can only cease by love. This is an eternal law." We can begin to transcend the cycle of aversion when we can stop seeing ourselves personally as agents of revenge. Ultimately, all beings are the owners of their own karma. If someone has caused us harm, they will suffer. If we have caused harm, we will suffer. As the Buddha said in the Dhammapada:

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with an impure mind
And trouble will follow you
As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart...
Speak or act with a pure mind
And happiness will follow you
As your shadow, unshakable.
Happiness and unhappiness depend on our actions.

Sharon Salzberg, Lovingkindness


There are many ways up the mountain, but each of us must choose a practice that feels true to his own heart. It is not necessary for you to evaluate the practices chosen by others. Remember, the practices themselves are only vehicles for you to develop awareness, lovingkindness, and compassion on the path toward freedom, a true freedom, a true freedom of spirit.

As the Buddha said, "One need not carry the raft on one's head after crossing the stream." We need to learn not only how to honor and use a practice for as long as it serves us - which in most cases is a very long time - but to look at it as just that, a vehicle, a raft to help us cross through the waters of doubt, confusion, desire, and fear. We can be thankful for the raft that supports our journey, and still realize that though we benefit, not everyone will take the same raft.

Jack Kornfield, A Path With Heart


We shield our heart with an armour woven out of very old habits of pushing away pain and grasping at pleasure. When we begin to breathe in the pain instead of pushing it away, we begin to open our hearts to what's unwanted. When we relate directly in this way to the unwanted areas of our lives, the airless room of ego begins to be ventilated.

Pema Chodron, Start Where You Are


When people start to meditate or to work with any kind of spiritual discipline, they often think that somehow they're going to improve, which is a sort of subtle aggression against who they really are. It's a bit like saying, "If I jog, I'll be a much better person." "If I could only get a nicer house, I'd be a better person." "If I could meditate and calm down, I'd be a better person"...

But loving-kindness - maitri - toward ourselves doesn't mean getting rid of anything. Maitri means that we can still be crazy after all these years. We can still be angry after all these years. We can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness. The point is not to try to change ourselves. Meditation practice isn't about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It's about befriending who we are already. The ground of practice is you or me or whoever we are right now, just as we are. That's the ground, that's what we study, that's what we come to know with tremendous curiosity and interest.

Pema Chodron, The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving-Kindness


When we are driving, we tend to think of arriving, and we sacrifice the journey for the sake of the arrival. But life is to be found in the present moment, not in the future. In fact, we may suffer more after we arrive at our destination. If we have to talk of a destination, what about our final destination, the graveyard? We do not want to go in the direction of death; we want to go in the direction of life. But where is life? Life can be found only in the present moment. Therefore, each mile we drive, each step we take, has to bring us into the present moment. This is the practice of mindfulness.

When we see a red light or a stop sign, we can smile at it and thank it, because it is a bodhisattva helping us return to the present moment. The red light is a bell of mindfulness. We may have thought of it as an enemy, preventing us from achieving our goal. But now we know the red light is our friend, helping us resist rushing and calling us to return to the present moment where we can meet with life, joy, and peace.

Thich Nhat Hanh, Present Moment, Wonderful Moment


The emperor of China asked a renowned Buddhist master if it would be possible to illustrate the naure of self in a visible way. In response, the master had a sixteen-sided room appointed with floor-to-ceiling mirrors that faced on another exactly. In the centre he hung a candle aflame. When the emperor entered he could see the individual candle flame in thousands of forms, each of the mirrors extending it far into the distance. Then the master replaced the candle with a small crystal. The emperor could see the small crystal reflected again in every direction. When the master pointed closely at the crystal, the emperor could see the whole room of thousands of crystals reflected in each tiny facet of the crystal in the center. The master showed how the smallest particle contains the whole universe.

True emptiness is not empty, but contains all things. The mysterious and pregnant void creates and reflects all possibilities. From it arises individuality, which can be discovered and developed, although never possessed or fixed. The self is held in no-self, as the candle flame is held in great emptiness.

Jack Kornfield, A Path with Heart


Buddha was not interested in the elements comprising human beings, nor in metaphysical theories of existence. He was more concerned about how he himself existed in this moment. That was his point. Bread is made from flour. How flour becomes bread when put in the oven was for Buddha the most important thing. How we become enlightened was his main interest. The enlightened person is some perfect, desirable character, for himself and for others. Buddha wanted to find out how human beings develop this ideal character - how various sages in the past become sages. In order to find out how dough became perfect bread, he made it over and over again, until he became quite successful. That was his practice.

Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind


I always say that there's a kind of implicit mindfulness and wisdom in metta practice. The very process of letting go of a distraction implies in some way seeing its transparency, not freaking out over it, not being angry about it, not getting involved with it, not identifying with it. You may not consciously say to yourself, "Oh, look, this moment is changing," but you can't let go of the distraction unless you are actually seeing that. You would be trying to push it away from anger rather than actually letting go. So to do the metta practice, you actually bring forth that level of wisdom.

Sharon Salzberg, Spirit Rock Meditation Center Newsletter, 1997

Sharon's Homepage


Ordinarily, we spend all our time comparing and discriminating between this and that, always looking around for something good to happen to us. And because of that, we become restless and anxious about everything. As long as we are able to imagine something better than what we have or who we are, it follows naturally that there could also be something worse. We are constantly pursued by misgivings that something bad will happen. In other words, as long as we live by distinguishing between the better way and the worse way, we can never find absolute peace such that whatever happens is all right. This anxiety or lack of peace of mind is like that felt by the Japanese high-school student aiming to succeed in the entrance exams.

When we let go of our thoughts that distinguish better from worse and instead see everything in terms of the Universal Self, we are able to settle upon a different attitude toward life - the attitude of magnanimous mind that whatever happens, we are living out Self which is only Self. Here a truly peaceful life unfolds.

Kosho Uchiyama, Opening the Hand of Thought


It's impossible to take note of your mind all of the time. You would tie yourself up in knots and run off the road. Instead of going to an extreme, begin by concentrating on one particular emotion in yourself. Choose the emotion that bothers you the most, or the one that is most prominent in you...

For many people, anger is a good starting point because it is easily noticed and dissolves faster than most other emotions. Once you begin to watch your anger, you will make an interesting discovery. You will find that as soon as you know you are angry, your anger will melt away by itself. It is very important that you watch without likes or dislikes. The more you are able to look at your own anger without making judgments, without being critical, the more easily the anger will dissipate.

Thynn Thynn, Living Meditation, Living Insight

Dr Thynn Thynn at Buddhanet


What happens when we do not let go? Asians have a very clever trap for catching monkeys. People hollow out a coconut, put something weet in it, and kame a hole in the bottom of the coconut just big enough for the monkey to slide its open hand in, but not big enough for the monkey to withdraw its hand as a fist. They attach the coconut to the tree, and the monkey comes along and gets trapped. What keeps the monkey trapped? Only the force of desire, of clinging, of attachment. All the monkey has to do is let go of the sweer, open its hand, slip it out, and be free. But only a very rare monkey will do that.

Joseph Goldstein, Transforming the Mind, Healing the World


When we sit down to meditate, we are trying to transcend our everyday consciousness, the one with which we transact our ordinary business, the one used in the world's market-place as we go shopping, bring up our children, work in an office or in our business, clean the house, check our bank statements, and all the rest of daily living. That kind of consciousness is known to everyone and without it we can't function. It is our survival consciousness and we need it for that. It cannot reach far enough or deep enough into the Buddha's teachings, because these are unique and profound; our everyday consciousness is neither unique nor profound, it's just utilitarian.

In order to attain the kind of consciousness that is capable of going deeply enough into the teachings to make them our own and thereby change our whole inner view, we need a mind with the ability to remove itself from the ordinary thinking process. That is only possible through meditation. There is no other way. Meditation is therefore a means and not an end in itself. It is a means to change the mind's capacity in such a way that we can see entirely different realities from the ones we are used to.

Ayya Khema, When the Iron Eagle Flies


When you take photographs, just before you click the shutter, your mind is empty and open, just seeing without words. When you stand in front of a blank sheet of paper, about to make a painting or a calligraphy, you have no idea what you will do. Maybe you have some plan for a painting, or you know what symbol you want to calligraph, but you don't actually know what will appear when you put brush to paper. What you do out of trust in open mind will be fresh and spontaneous. Opening to first thought is the way to begin your action properly.

Jeremy Hayward, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Vol. IV, #3


Nonviolence belongs to a continuuum from the personal to the global, and from the global to the personal. One of the most significant Buddhist interpretations of nonviolence concerns the application of this ideal to daily life. Nonviolence is not some exalted regimen that can be practiced only by a monk or a master; it also pertains to the way one interacts with a child, vacuums a carpet, or waits in line. Besides the more obvious forms of violence, whenever we separate ourselves from a given situation (for example, through inattentiveness, negative judgments, or impatience), we "kill" something valuable. However subtle it may be, such violence actually leaves victims in its wake: people, things, one's own composure, the moment itself. According to the Buddhist reckoning, these small-scale incidences of violence accumulate relentlessly, are multipled on a social level, and become a source of the large-scale violence that can sweep down upon us so suddenly...One need not wait until war is declared and bullets are flying to work for peace, Buddhism teaches. A more constant and equally urgent battle must be waged each day against the forces of one's own anger, carelessness, and self-absorption.

Kenneth Kraft, Inner Peace, World Peace


If everything is impermanent, then everything is what we call "empty," which means lacking in any lasting, stable, and inherent existence, and all things, when seen and understood in their true relation, are not independent but interdependent with all other things. The Buddha compared the universe to a vast net wovwn of a countless variety of brilliant jewels, each with a countless number of facets. Each jewel reflects in itself every other jewel in the net and is, in fact, one with every other jewel.

Think of a wave in the sea. Seen in one way, it seems to have a distinct identity, an end and a beginning, a birth and a death. Seen in another way, the wave itself doesn't really exist but is just the behaviour of water, "empty" of any separate identity but "full" of water. So when you really think about the wave, you come to realize that it is something made temporarily possible by wind and water, and is dependent on a set of constantly changing circumstances. You also realize that every wave is related to every other wave.

Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying


When the Buddha said, "Do not pursue the past," he was telling us not to be overwhelmed by the past. He did not mean that we should stop looking at the past in order to observe it deeply. When we review the past and observe it deeply, if we are standing firmly in the present, we are not overwhelmed by it. The materials of the past which make up the present become clear when they express themselves in the present. We can learn from them. If we observe these materials deeply, we can arrive at a new understanding of them. That is called "looking again at something old in order to learn something new."

If we know that the past also lies in the present, we understand that we are able to change the past by transforming the present. The ghosts of the past, which follow us into the present, also belong to the present moment. To observe them deeply, recognize their nature, and transform them, is to transform the past.

Thich Nhat Hanh, Our Appointment with Life


It is a great turning point in our spiritual lives when we go from an intellectual appreciaiton of a path to the heartfelt confidence that says, "Yes, it is possible to awaken. I can, too." A tremendous joy accompanies this confidence. When we place our hearts upon this practice, the teachings come alive. That turning point, which transforms an abstract concept of a spiritual path into our own personal path, is faith.

Sharon Salzberg, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Vol. VI, #3


Awakening entails economic pursuits that foster self-respect and self-reliance and that serve to integrate, rather than disperse, the energies of the local community. From the perspective of the Dharma, economic goals include not only production and profit, but also their human and environmental impact. The conservation and material resources, their humane use, and their equitable distribution are taken as preeminent concerns.

Joanna Macy, in Claude Whitmyer's Mindfulness and Meaningful Work


I once heard a story about a visit to heaven and hell. In both places the visitor saw many people seated at a table on which many delicious foods were laid out. Chopsticks over a meter long were tied to their right hands, while their left hands were tied to their chairs. In hell, however much they stretched out their arms, the chopsticks were too long for them to get food into their mouths. They grew impatient and got their hands and chopsticks tangled with one another's. The delicacies werre scattered here and there.

In heaven, on the other hand, people happily used the long chopsticks to pick out someone else's favorite food and feed it to him, and in turn they were being fed by others. They all enjoyed their meal in harmony.

Shundo Aoyama, Zen Seeds

Positive actions are difficult and infrequent. It is hard to have positive thoughts when our minds are influenced by emotions and confused by adverse cicumstances. Negative thoughts arise by themselves, and it is rare that we do a positive action whose motivation, execution, and conclusion are perfectly pure. If our stock of hard-won positive actions is rendered powerless in an instant of anger, the loss is immeasurably more serious than that of some more abundant resource.

- The 14th Dalai Lama

The First Noble Truth declares unflinchingly, straight out, that pain is inherent in life itself just because everything is changing. The Second Noble Truth explains that suffering is what happens when we struggle with whatever our life experience is rather than accepting and opening to our experience with wise and compassionate response. From this point of view, there's a big difference between pain and suffering. Pain is inevitable; lives come with pain. Suffering is not inevitable. If suffering is what happens when we struggle with our experience because of our inability to accept it, then suffering is an optional extra.

I misunderstood this when I started my practice and believed if I meditated hard enough I would be finished with all pain. That turned out to be a big mistake. I was disappointed when I discovered the error and embarassed that I had been so naive. It's obvious we are not going to finish with pain in this lifetime.

The Buddha said, "Everything dear to us causes pain."...Those of us who have chosen relational life have made the choice that the pain is worth it.

Sylvia Boorstein, It's Easier Than You Think

                                         

The Great Way is obvious to all my friends. They point it out quite readily on request, sometimes without request. Their words are painful because they threaten my character. I have to choose between the Great Way and me. An easy choice on paper - a hard one in fact.

Robert Aitken, Encouraging Words

More Buddhist quotes plus the hundredth monkey article

We can never obtain peace in the world if we neglect the inner world and don't make peace with ourselves. World peace must develop out of inner peace. Without inner peace it is impossible to achieve world peace, external peace. Weapons themselves do not act. They have not come out of the blue. Man has made them. But even given those weapons, those terrible weapons, they cannot act by themselves. As long as they are left alone in storage they cannot do any harm. A human being must use them. Someone must push the button. Human beings must do it.

The Dalai Lama, The Dalai Lama: A Policy of Kindness, edited by Sidney Piburn

This enlightenment of the Buddha's was profound and brilliant, accurate and powerful, and also warm and compassionate. It was like the sun behind the clouds. Anyone who has taken off in an airplane on a grim and gloomy day knows that beyond the cloud cover the sun is always shining. Even at night the sun is shining, but then we can't see it because the earth is in the way, and probably our pillow also. The buddha explained that behind the cloud cover of thoughts - including very heavy clouds of emotionally charged thoughts backed up by entrenched habitual patterns - there is continual warm, bright, loving intelligence constantly shining. And even though in the midst of thoughts, emotions, and habitual patterns, intelligence may become dulled and confused, it is still this intelligence in the midst of the thoughts and emotions and habits that make them so very captivating, so resourceful and various, so inexhaustible.

Samuel Bercholz, Entering the Stream

The Buddha compares his teaching to the rainfall that descends without discrimination on the earth. That this rain causes some seeds to grow into flowers and some into great trees implies no differentiation in the rain but rather is due to the capacities of the seeds that it nurtures. Thus, the teachings of the Buddha is of a single flavor but benefits beings in a variety of ways according to their capacity.

Donald S. Lopez, Jr., Buddhism in Practice

A good spiritual friend who will help us to stay on the path, with whom we can discuss our difficulties frankly, sure of a compassionate response, provides an important support system which is often lacking. Although people live and practice together, one-upmanship often comes between them. A really good friend is like a mountain guide. The spiritual path is like climbing a mountain: we don't really know what we will find at the summit. We have only heard that it is beautiful, everybody is happy there, the view is magnificent and the air unpolluted. If we have a guide who has already climbed the mountain, he can help us avoid falling into a crevasse, or slipping on loose stones, or getting off the path. The one common antidote for all our hindrances is noble friends and noble conversations, which are health food for the mind.

Ayya Khema, When the Iron Eagle Flies







       

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