Friday, September 30, 2011

In the Shadow

uppajjitva nirujjhanti ~ having arisen, they fall

          Whether people be of high or low birth, rich or poor, old or young, enlightened or confused, they are all alike in that they will one day die. It is not that we don’t know that we are going to die, but we grasp at straws. While knowing that we will die someday, we think that all the others will die before us and that we will be the last to go. Death seems a long way off.
          Is this not shallow thinking? It is worthless and is only a joke within a dream. It will not do to think in such a way and be negligent. Insofar as death is always at one’s door, one should make sufficient effort and act quickly.
          ~ Hagakure (In the Shadow of Leaves)

The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.
~ Episcopal Bishop Gerald Burrill

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Moments Between Liking, Craving & Grasping

“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Good or Bad?

Yogis tend to tell me that something is "good" or "bad". Or they'll come and ask me whether what happened to them was good. Please don't take an experience as "good" or "bad". It's only good if you understand more about the nature of what has happened, its causes and effects, whether it was wholesome or unwholesome and the value of the experience.

Please reflect on this: Is there any object worthy of greed or anger? Do you truly recognize that craving, aversion, and delusion (and all their relatives) are all unwholesome mental states?

~ Sayadaw U Tejaniya, Dhamma Everywhere, p. 80

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What's Your Motive?

Know that there are three types of [practitioner]:

The inferior are said to be those who by any of the various means strive for their own benefit to merely attain the pleasures of samsara.

The mediocre are said to be those who turn their back on samsara's pleasures and also refrain from evil deeds, yet merely pursue a personal peace.

The superior are said to be those who, through understanding their own suffering, deeply desire to completely end the suffering of all other beings.

~ Atisha (980–1054), translated by Erik Pema Kunzang

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Shabkar's Song of Compassion

by Shabkar Tsokdruk Rangdrol (1781-1851)

Avalokiteshvara, mighty Great Treasure of Compassion,
From my heart I invoke your blessing.
By this blessing, may compassion be born in my mind
And in the minds of all beings under the sky.

If a man has compassion, he is a Buddha;
Without compassion, he is a Lord of Death.

With compassion, the root of Dharma is planted;
Without compassion, the root of Dharma is rotten.

One with compassion is kind even when angry;
One without compassion will kill even as he smiles.

For one with compassion, even his enemies will turn into friends;
Without compassion, even his friends turn into enemies.

With compassion, one has all Dharmas;
Without compassion, one has no Dharma at all.

With compassion, one is a Buddhist;
Without compassion, one is worse than a heretic.

Even if meditating on voidness, one needs compassion as its essence.
A Dharma practitioner must have a compassionate nature.

Compassion is the distinctive characteristic of Buddhism.
Compassion is the very essence of all Dharmas.

Great compassion is like a wish-fulfilling gem.
Great compassion will fulfill the hopes of self and others.

Therefore, all of you, practitioners and lay people,
Cultivate compassion and you will achieve buddhahood.

May all men and women who hear this song,
With great compassion benefit all beings!

Translated by Matthieu Ricard.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

Right Here in this Body

"I tell you, friend, that it is not possible by traveling to know or see or reach a far end of the cosmos where one does not take birth, age, die, pass away, or reappear.

But at the same time, I tell you that there is no making an end of suffering and stress without reaching the end of the cosmos.

Yet it is just within this fathom-long body, with its perception and intellect, that I declare that there is the cosmos, the origination of the cosmos, the cessation of the cosmos, and the path of practice leading to the cessation of the cosmos."

~ Shakyamuni Buddha, in the Rohitassa Sutta (SN 2.26)
    translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Friday, September 9, 2011

Calm, Clear, Kind, Strong

Calm abiding eases turmoil and struggle

Clear seeing ends the confusion of not knowing how things are

Kindness and compassion wish all to be happy and free

Presence is strength and power

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Prayer for Those Affected by Fire

Praying for the safety and peace of those affected by the forest fire in eastern Washington: ancient trees, wildlife, residents, the Greek Orthodox Christian community at the Monastery of St. John the Forerunner, the Buddhist community at Ser Cho Osel Ling Land of the Clear Light Golden Dharma, the firefighters, and travelers passing through.

May all be safe, healthy, happy, at peace.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What Am I?

Curious, how preoccupied we tend to be with ourselves, so self-centered, and yet how little we actually know about it. We spend our life defining and defending it, trying to please its every wish, agreeing with its opinions, obeying its orders, and yet... what is it?

When a sense of self arises, turn with curiosity and kindness and look deeply -- look into what you call self. What is it? What is it made of?

What sensations arise with this self?

What feelings and emotions?

What stories does this self tell?

What impulses and behaviors follow the arising of a self?

When this self appears, how does it affect how the world looks?

Look and look again until you know its true nature, lest you become, in the words of Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, "the slave of a ghost."

Whatever the phenomena through which we think of seeking our self identity, it turns out to be transitory. It becomes false, for what lasts for a moment is deceptive...
~ Buddha Shakyamuni, The Origin and Cessation of Suffering (Dvayatanupassana Sutta)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Frittered Away

... By mistake I fell into the web of the mundane, and thirty years of my life have been frittered away...

~ Tao Yuanming

Without Will

There is certainly one truth about this practice: it seems that if we give ourselves away to it, completely, for even a moment, then without will, an unexpected intuition may manifest which can change a life.

~ from the Mt. Cobb Sai Sho Zen-ji newsletter, September 2, 2011

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Fight or Flight Reactions

The sympathetic nervous system's fight or flight reactions to danger, real or imagined:
  • Acceleration of heart and lung action
  • Paling or flushing, or alternating between both
  • Inhibition of stomach and upper-intestinal action (digestion slows or stops)
  • General effect on the sphincters of the body
  • Dilation of blood vessels for muscles
  • Inhibition of the lacrimal gland (responsible for tear production) and salivation
  • Dilation of pupil
  • Relaxation of bladder
  • Auditory exclusion (loss of hearing)
  • Tunnel vision (loss of peripheral vision)
  • Disinhibition of spinal reflexes
  • Shaking


~ from The Book of Qualities by Ruth Gendler

Trust is the daughter of Truth. She has an objective memory, neither embellishing nor denying the past. She is an ideal confidante -- gracious, candid, and discreet. Trust talks to people who need to hear her, she listens to those who need to be heard, she sits quietly with those who are skeptical of words, her presence is subtle, simple, and undeniable.

Trust rarely buys round-trip tickets because she is never sure how long she will be gone and when she will return. Trust is at home in the desert and the city, with dolphins and tigers, with outlaws, lovers, and saints. When Trust bought her house, she tore out all the internal walls, strengthened the foundation, and rebuilt the door. Trust is not fragile, but she has no need to advertise her strength. She has a gambler's respect for the interplay between luck and skill; she is the mother of Love.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Please Don't Forget It

"When we dream of first being filthy and then getting clean, when we do not know we are dreaming, both the filth and the cleanliness seem to truly exist. When we know we are dreaming, the filth is mere appearance and the cleanliness is mere appearance. In the true nature of the dream, there is neither filth nor cleanliness. That is easy to understand -- please don't forget it."

~ Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche

   Sun of Wisdom, p. 112. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Steal It

When I notice something of mine,
I steal it and give it to others.

~ Shantideva 8:159