Buddhism | Mindfulness | Meditation

These two quotes from two different Buddhist teachers are quite helpful. One explains the problem that we face, the source of our discontent. The other tells us how the problem is solved.

“Lack of vigilance is like a thief, who slinks behind when mindfulness abates.
And all the merit we have gathered in. He steals, and down we go to lower realms.”

–Shantideva, The Way of the Bodhisattva

“The more I doubted, the more I meditated, the more I practiced. Whenever doubt arose I practiced right at that point. Wisdom arose. Things began to change. It’s hard to describe the change that took place. The mind changed until there was no more doubt. I don’t know how it changed. If I were to try telling someone, they probably wouldn’t understand.”

Ajahn Chah, Food for the Heart

The Four Agreements | Don Miguel Ruiz | Toltecs

The Four Agreements

In a simple way, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz show us how human beings distort our reality, trapping ourselves in negative beliefs that we never challenge. In the book don Miguel, also a Toltec shaman, gives us four agreements to help us break free from our limiting belief system:

1.Don’t take anything personally,
2.Don’t make assumptions,
3. Be impeccable with your word and
4. Always do your best.


It is interesting to note that if practiced consistently, each of the first three agreements would  take us to inner silence.  The fourth one refers to doing your best, just your best, with the other three.

“All paths, Arjuna, lead to me.” Krishna—The Baghavad Gita (4:11)

Amazon.com Widgets

www.miguelruiz.com

Buddha | Prajnaparamita | Anne Bancroft

250px-sermon_in_the_deer_park_depicted_at_wat_chedi_liem-kayess-1There is a tiny book out there that can fit in anybody’s shirt pocket. It is titled, the pocket Buddha reader. It was edited by Anne Bancroft; and it has outstanding selections of the Buddha’s teachings. Below, I am adding an interesting excerpt (pg 33) to give you an idea.

“…the infinitely varied forms of this world, in all their relativity, far from being a hindrance and a dangerous distraction to the spiritual path, are really a healing medicine. Why? Because by the very fact that they are interdependent on each other and therefore have no separate self, they express the mystery and the energy of all-embracing love. Not just the illumined wise ones but every single being in the interconnected world is a dweller in the boundless infinity of love”. –Prajnaparamita (The perfection of  Wisdom)

A note from Wikipedia: “The Perfection of Wisdom Sutras or Prajñāpāramitā Sutras are a genre of Mahayana Buddhist scriptures dealing with the subject of the Perfection of Wisdom. The term Prajñāpāramitā alone never refers to a specific text, but always to the class of literature.” www.wikipedia.com

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”–Mohandas Gandhi

Amazon.com Widgets

Buddhism | Non-Attachment | Brad Warner

Although I am not a Buddhist I think the Buddha is one the greatest teachers the world has ever known. And one of the  Buddhist authors I recommend to better understand Buddhism is Brad Warner. In the excerpt below he clarifies the usually misunderstood concept of non-attachment. I think it is worth your time.

Brad Warner’s Hardcore Zen: Attached to Non-Attachment

“There is an idea within Zen Buddhist philosophy that’s sometimes expressed with the word “non-attachment.” But it has nothing to do with the weird belief that we should all be completely aloof from everything in life. Dogen, the 13th century monk who wrote extensively about Zen, talks some about not being attached to self and not being attached to views. But this is a completely different thing from cultivating an attitude where a person strives to be an island unto him or herself, loving nothing, caring about nothing and generally just not giving a shit about much at all.

The notion that we should cultivate such an attitude is extremely dangerous. It’s one of those beliefs that cult leaders use to dominate a community. We all form attachments to those close to us. When we’re told to cut ties with family and friends and with the mainstream society, we’ll naturally form ties with the community and its leader. That’s a very slippery slope. Even when the community and its leader start off relatively cool, that kind of power corrupts quickly and thoroughly.

The don’t-give-a-shit attitude cultivated by far too many who proudly label themselves Buddhists is one of those things that people who dislike Buddhism always use to trash it. And rightly so, because it’s a crap idea! Unfortunately for them, the idea isn’t Buddhism at all. It’s a kind of psychosis — what the psychiatric community calls sociopathy. That’s not what Buddhist practice is intended to bring about.

In fact, this bizarre idea of “non-attachment” runs completely counter to the Buddhist worldview. It’s utterly impossible for anyone ever to be unattached in that way. What we call self and what we call non-self are one and the same. Our real attachments to everyone and everything we encounter run so deep and strong we couldn’t possibly break them no matter how hard we tried. We are fundamentally attached to everything. And of course you’re going to form even deeper attachments to those people and things that are more closely related to you, like your family, friends and home. Don’t sweat it.

Non-attachment to self and views is something entirely different. It means not trying to force yourself to be one single solid unchangeable thing forever and ever world without end amen. What you call your “self” is constantly in a state of flux, mutating and metamorphosing at every moment. But most of us fight against that. We try to establish a fixed personality — a “self.” We waste all kinds of energy defining and defending this fiction we’ve worked hard to create. Stop doing that and you’re free to use all that energy in far more constructive and beneficial ways. Personally, I don’t think the word “non-attachment” is a very good way of describing this so I don’t use it (FYI, even in the passages I referred to, Dogen never actually used the word “non-attachment” since he didn’t write in English).

As far as your attachment to the things you ought to be attached to is concerned, the worst that Buddhist practice is going to do is to make you a little less emotionally frantic about that stuff. When my mom died last year, I didn’t sit around all glassy eyed going, “I have no grief for, lo, I am not attached.” I cried. Hard. But at the same time I didn’t hang on to my grief as tightly as I might have.

Let’s take grief as a case in point that’s applicable to the rest of what we might call emotional attachments. The initial wave of grief you feel at the loss of someone you love just happens. No need to dwell on how or why. It’s just there. And you react; you cry or feel sullen or act in whatever way your cultural upbringing has conditioned you to respond. After that, though, is where things get complicated. The habit of latching onto emotions and incorporating them into the sense of self is so strong that we’ll grab on hard to even the most unpleasant feelings that come along. We hang on for dear life lest our sense of who we are should collapse if we let go. We very literally feel like we’ll die if we don’t. Habits like this have us abusing our bodies and minds in ways that lead to all kinds of trouble. But they’re not necessary. You won’t vanish if you stop reinforcing your image of who you are at every moment.

You can’t undo habits this deep instantly. You shouldn’t even try. But once you become aware of them you find that you always have a clear choice whether to respond habitually or not. Not responding habitually doesn’t mean you become cold, robotic and “non-attached” in the sense a lot of people seem to envision non-attachment. It just means you don’t push your body/mind more than it needs to be pushed.

You still love all the people you loved before. You may even hate the same people you hated before. Even hate doesn’t have to be a terrible thing when you don’t latch onto it and call it your self. It arises and fades away like any other emotion and there’s no need to act upon it. But that’s a topic too big to go into here. In any case, the kind of “attachments” the guy who wrote me that letter remain fully intact. You still love your family and your friends and your kitty cat too.

So don’t get all attached to the idea of non-attachment. OK?”

Brad Warner is the author of Hardcore Zen and Sit Down and Shut Up! He maintains a blog about Buddhist stuff and a My Space Page  too. If you’re in Southern California and you want to try some Zazen for yourself, he has a group that meets every Saturday in Santa Monica.

His blog: www.hardcorezen.blogspot.com

The Diamond Sutra | Buddha | Excerpts

250px-sermon_in_the_deer_park_depicted_at_wat_chedi_liem-kayess-1Today I read the Diamond Sutra.

If you are ready, check it out. Like a diamond, it cuts through concepts and beliefs. You can find it in “A Buddhist Bible” by  Dwight Goddard.

Excerpts:

Then Buddha asked Subhuti, “What do you think, Subhuti, has the Buddha arrived at the highest, most fulfilled, most awakened and enlightened mind? Does the Buddha teach any teaching?”

Subhuti replied, “As far as I have understood the lord Buddha’s teachings, there is no independently existing object of mind called the highest, most fulfilled, awakened or enlightened mind. Nor is there any independently existing teaching that the Buddha teaches. Why? Because the teachings that the Buddha has realized and spoken of cannot be conceived of as separate, independent things and therefore cannot be described. The truth in them is uncontainable and inexpressible. It neither is, nor is it not. What does this mean? What this means is that Buddhas and disciples are not enlightened by a set method of teachings, but by an internally intuitive process which is spontaneous and is part of their own inner nature.”

******************

“Regard this fleeting world

As a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream,

A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,

A flickering lamp, a phantom and a dream”

–The Buddha, Diamond Sutra

http://www.diamond-sutra.com/diamond_sutra_translation.html

Kabir | Poet | Mystic | Philosopher

Kabir

Kabir

Like Ramana Maharshi, who was also awake, Kabir did not have a particular religion.  He was also very critical of all sects in India, which is probably a reason for his universal appeal.  It is said that when he died his Hindu and Muslim followers were quarreling over his remains. They then heard a voice asking them to lift the shroud covering the body. When they did they only found flowers.

Some of his poems:

Do not go to the garden of flowers!

O friend! go not there;

In your body is the garden of flowers.

Take your seat on the thousand petals of the

lotus, and there gaze on the infinite beauty.

**************                –Kabir

Hang up the swing of love today!

Hang the body and the mind between the

arms of the beloved, in the ecstasy of love’s joy:

Bring the tearful streams of the rainy clouds

to your eyes, and cover your heart with

the shadow of darkness:

Bring your face nearer to his ear, and speak

of the deepest longings of your heart.

Kabir says: `Listen to me brother! bring the

vision of the Beloved in your heart.’

********************

Are you looking for me? I am in the next seat.

My shoulder is against yours.

you will not find me in the stupas, not in Indian shrine

rooms, nor in synagogues, nor in cathedrals:

not in masses, nor kirtans, not in legs winding

around your own neck, nor in eating nothing but

vegetables.

When you really look for me, you will see me

instantly —

you will find me in the tiniest house of time.

Kabir says: Student, tell me, what is God?

He is the breath inside the breath.

More about Kabir at: http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/K/Kabir/

http://www.boloji.com/kabir/intro.htm

Sri Ramana Maharshi | Sage

Sri Ramana Maharshi is one of my favorite teachers, and one of the greatest sages of the last century, a Buddha.  Although he was born in India, he was not a member of any particular religion.  Enjoy his websites below!Ramana Maharshi

Ramana Maharshi

“It was in 1908 that I first contacted Sri Ramana Maharshi, then in the Virupaksha Cave, when I was a boy of twelve. Had you seen him in those days, you would hardly have taken him for a mere human being. His figure was a statue of burnished gold. He simply sat and sat, and rarely spoke. The words he spoke on any day could easily be counted. He had an enchanting personality that shed a captivating luster on all, and a life-giving current flowed from him charging all those nearby, while his sparkling eyes irrigated those around him with the nectar of his Being.”

T.K. Sundaresa Iyer, At the feet of Bhagavan

T.K. Sundaresa Iyer, At the feet of Bhagavan

“At the age of sixteen Ramana Maharshi left his home, his family, and all he knew. He felt drawn to Arunachula – a small mountain in Southern India. He lived there for the rest of his life. His only possessions were a piece of cloth to cover himself, and a walking stick. Little by little word of a sage living alone on Arunachula mountain became known. Many felt drawn to sit in his presence. He seldom spoke. But occasionally he would respond to questions.  This site: http://sentient.org/ is dedicated to the peace and fulfillment toward which he pointed.”

Sentient beings are in essence buddhas
It is like water and ice. There is no ice without water,
There are no buddhas outside sentient beings.
What a shame, sentient beings seek afar,
Not knowing what is at hand. It is like wailing from thirst
In the midst of water.

–Hakuin Ekaku, 1685-1768

http://www.sriramanamaharshi.org/bhagvan.html

%d bloggers like this: