Friday, April 26, 2013

The Four Immeasurables

Also known as the brahma-viharas: kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity.
  • Friendliness toward oneself and others, wishing well: safety, health, success, happiness, peace. 
  • Empathy for pain and suffering, and wishing oneself and others be free of it.
  • Appreciating the good in the world, rejoicing in happiness and success, one’s own and others’.
  • Clear and balanced in pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral experience, with friends, strangers, and enemies.
The bliss and stillness of stable attention (shamatha) and the clarity of insight (vipsahyana) are compelling, and extraordinarily helpful. But without doubt caring for others and appreciating the good also lead to the deepest insight, happiness, peace, and freedom.

HERE is a traditional method for cultivating the four immeasurables. And HERE is a one-page version.

Enjoy, with gentle persistence...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Integrating the flow

Gentle, accommodating, integrating awareness, grounded in the body... just noticing what you notice. No need to edit, filter, or rearrange... just catching glimpses of how your actual experience arises as a flowing changing mix of sensations, feelings, thoughts, stories, impulses, and behaviors. Trusting awareness... trusting the flow of experience... 

"No one steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river and they are not the same person." 
~ Heraclitis

Potential and power

Inwardly alert, open, calm

Outwardly upright, extended, filled with spirit

This is the foundation of [potential]

Add the hard and soft

        the [dynamic] and the relaxed

        motion and stillness

        contraction and extension

In the instant these converge there is power

~ Grand Master Wang Xiang Zhai

Friday, April 19, 2013

Psychology, politics

Meditation practice deconstructs dysfunctional psychological structures and behavioral patterns.

Activist practice deconstructs dysfunctional social and political structures and institutional patterns.

Meditation and activism at first they seem separate, even conflicting, but they are complementary -- intertwined and mutually supporting.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Rising or Entering?

We cannot transcend emotions or our humanity. We can transform our conflict with our humanity, to become more human, completely human, by entering our experience more fully. To do so takes a heart willing to engage the ceaseless transformation of things, one of which is ourselves ~ a ceaseless flow of experience arising.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Good news

What appears to be permanent is always changing.
What appears to be separate is intimately connected.
Know that ~ and what appears confined is freed,
and what arises as suffering becomes peace and joy.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Both And

The Lankavatara Sutra says:  Samsara is like an illusion or a dream ~ and karma is relentless.

Monday, April 8, 2013


Principles from the Metta Center for Nonviolence (

Fight injustice, not people. Everyone deserves respect; the point is not to “win,” but to build relationships.

Nonviolence will always improve things down the line; violence—of any kind—will always make them worse.

Basic human needs are universal; at the root of every conflict a “win-win” solution is possible.

Each of us has a piece of the truth, none of us has the whole truth.

Never show disrespect to another’s person—or accept it yourself. Nobody can degrade you without your permission.

The willingness to take on suffering rather than inflict it and relentless persistence in a right cause bring out the power of nonviolence.

Nonviolence has two modes: in obstructive program we stand in the way of wrongdoing—in constructive program we lead the way in creating solutions.

Never give up on another human being. If you assume people are rational, it helps to awaken their rationality.

Cling to essentials (like your human dignity); be willing to compromise on anything else (especially if it’s just a symbol).

Do not yield to threats. Ask yourself: “What are they holding over me?” Renounce that, and you are free.

When nonviolence succeeds there are no losers; gloating over “victories” can actually undo what we have gained by nonviolent action.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Light, Space, Flow

Space opens up when we recognize that things are not permanent or solid or fixed.

Compassion remembers the suffering that comes from not recognizing.

The light of awareness and the light of compassion are the same light.

Seeing that things are empty of permanence and solidity, compassion arises.

With compassion for oneself and others, insight arises.

Gaining confidence in compassion and awareness, faith arises: all experience is flowing and flexible, an unceasing interaction between beings inherently sensitive and responsive.

Insight and Compassion

Perceptions, which never existed in themselves, are mistaken for objects; 
Awareness itself, because of ignorance, is mistaken for a self; 
Through the power of dualistic fixation I wander in the realm of existence. 
May ignorance and confusion be completely resolved. 
~ Rangjung Dorje, Aspirations for Mahamudra (trans. Ken McLeod)

When we know the actual nature of what's arising, we can make choices that lead to freedom and happiness rather than choices that lead to struggle and suffering.

We look into what’s arising and we see that it’s actually just a flow of passing sensations, feelings, stories, and actions. What appear to be “real objects” are actually just "external" sense perceptions. What appear to be “real emotions” and “true thoughts” are just "internal" experiences. 

When you can relax and settle into the unceasing flow of sensations, feelings, and stories, then try looking into what experiences. Look at a sensation or a feeling or a thought. Then look at what experiences that sensation, feeling, or thought. 

"What is aware" is actually just another experience. We habitually mistake awareness for a self, but it turns out to be a compelling combination of sensations, feelings, and stories. 

The "self" is empty of permanence and solidity. The “self” is also empty of separateness: it always arises in the context of a situation, in interaction with an “object” or another "self." 

Is this not true? Don’t just analyze or try to determine whether these are logical statements. Test again and again how your experience actually arises. Be sure, in your own direct experience. 

Our senses of self come and go, depending on the situation or role we’re in. We walk into work and become a colleague or employee. We get together with friends and become another particular self. We interact with family and another self arises -- a father or mother or son or daughter or sibling. 

We habitually mistake the passing experience(s) of "self" for something solid, some thing that needs to be defined and defended. Lots of suffering there. 

When we really see and understand the nature of suffering, how it arises from confusion and clinging and aversion, we care about what happens. In insight practice we are not trying to generate a particular sensation or feeling or thought; we are trying to see clearly (vipashyana), to know the actual nature of all experiences, so that we can free ourselves from the confusion, attachment, and aversion that create so much suffering for ourselves and others. 

Of course if we don’t notice the suffering, or we don’t care about it, we may not have the incentive to look deeply. So alongside insight practice is the equally (or more) important practice of interacting with others in the world: the practice of kindness, compassion, generosity, ethics. Insight leads to compassion. Compassion leads to insight. 

Neither insight nor compassion are complete unless the other arises. If we focus exclusively on compassion, we may take things too seriously and end up embroiled in trying to save or fix the world. If we focus exclusively on insight, we can take things too seriously and end up lost in a tangle of thoughts, or pursue special states of mind. Better to practice insight with the motivation of compassion, and practice compassion with clarity of insight.