Thought for the Day: October 1, 2011
The intellect is the rudder that guides our thought between worry and ignoring. It is a
tool that worry discards and ignoring doesn't pick up.
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Thought for the Day: October 3, 2011
When thoughts are scattered and unruly watch the breath; dissolve them into it.
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benefited from your contributions. May you have a favorable rebirth and be blessed by
hearing the dharma and finding a good teacher.
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Thought for the Day: October 5, 2011
This evening during a dharma study at my home we were talking about the
predisposition we have to find comfort in a "position" or a reference point for
ourselves; whereas freedom is being free of such a predisposition to such a reference
point. In Taoism this is referred to as "the true man of no fixed position." My neighbor,
Rik, related how long before he studied any "dharma" he decided to watch a football
game without choosing a side. He enjoyed the experiment very much and continued on
for a few games more. The end result? He stopped watching football.
We bind ourselves up to entire ways of life and social activity because of preferences,
preferences that we continually reinforce. On a superficial level the result is the "habit"
of living a certain way; on a deeper level the result is endless turning in the cycle of
birth and death. Yung Chia's opening line of his Song of Enlightenment, expresses the idea
very simply: "The great way is not difficult for those who have no preferences, but for
those who do, heaven and earth are separated far apart."
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Thought for the Day: October 7, 2011
Our natural curiosity about knowledge objects is itself the most worthy object of
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Thought for the Day: October 8, 2011
Attachments are one of the primary walls that rise up and obscure any glimmer of
realization that rises within our consciousness. But, attachments are not "fixed" and what
may be an attachment for one person will not be for another. Buddhism teaches that we
individual to discover what this means. My teacher was very ascetic, for example,
another renowned dharma Master for his detachment to food and drink, yet this Master
was very heavy and religiously ate ten times a day! Discipline is very important in
breaking up attachments, but how this manifests in each one of us is "our own business"
and cannot be otherwise. There is no right or wrong here; but there is honesty and
integrity that is played out within our own mind and the cultivation of complete
openness and vulnerability. A sense of renunciation generally brings with it a sense of
happiness. And this is what should be cultivated
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Thought for the Day: October 9, 2011
The "inner voice" whispers quietly as the subway of our mind roars with many voices.
Even if we try to listen there are many voices competing for our attention. Allow these
voices to dissolve into the mantra.
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Thought for the Day: October 12, 2011
Meditation should always be a source of happiness; if we understand this the burden of
seeking "enlightenment will be removed. Be happy with a little progress day by day, and
don't worry about becoming enlightened. If we attain blissful states, never cling to them
or try to develop them. Simply let them go, as you would a negative emotion.
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Spiritual tales come wrapped in many ways. Tonight a wealthy women told me a
beautiful story. She was living in Los Angeles and went to get gas for her bright red She
said "OK" and while he was pumping gas she thought "why not invite him to the pulled
out and started driving he became terrified thinking she was going to shoot him and
begged him to stop and let him out. But, she kept him inside until she pulled into the
"Biltmore," a five star hotel, and then let him out. "Let's go to the gym," she said.
Needless to say the staff was shocked, but she had the right to bring a guest and he was
which he did, and she pointed him to the dressing room, where he went with his duffel
bag and later met her in the steam room. Afterwards, she said she had errands to run
and asked him if he wanted to tag along. He said yes, and upon getting in the car asked
protested that her place was full of boxes and that she was a Jehovah Witness, and
would drive her crazy. She insisted, however, and after her errands, she drove him to
his mom's. On the way she thought that it would not be right for the son to go without a
present and she purchased some strawberries and vanilla ice cream and some flowers.
Then she went to the house, which was a forty-five minute drive and arrived with the
son and waited with him as he knocked on the door. His mom finally came in her walker
and upon seeing him dropped it and fell into his arms crying. She said she has been
praying for him to come for six years to unpack the boxes, which he just left there after
they moved. His new friend was busy making flower arrangements and then served
mother and son the vanilla ice cream and strawberries The mother cried and said that
her son had not forgotten her favorite dessert. She then left him there with her and gave
him her beeper number and promised to come get him if he wished to return to
homeless life. Three days later he beeped her and he was again on the streets.
The short space here does not do justice to the story because of space constraints and
my writing limitations. But, the women who told it is an Olympian, a wealthy business
women, and recently happily married. Yet, with all her experiences, this was one of her
most cherished. It says a lot about not being judgemental of others and being open and
spontaneous in our thinking and not being pushed around by what others may think..
The opportunity to bring happiness to others often appears in unexpected ways; as this
women's story of keen intuition, openness, and simple kindness reflects.
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Thought for the Day: October 15, 2011
When we think of the practice of "non-attachment" what generally comes to mind are
the things in our life we are attached to, maybe a nice car, clothes, good food, a person,
status, and as many more as there are people on the planet. But, meditation, charity
work, and other forms of devotional activity generally don't come to mind; and in most
cases probably need not because these aren't "attachments" for most of us. But, they
sutras dealing with the actual methods of practice for the attainment of enlightenment,
devotes itself to the undesirable consequences of becoming "attached" to the form of
ones practice, or the status of being a spiritual practitioner. It also cautions on the
dangers of becoming "stuck" in blissful meditation states because of our attachment to
them, causing us to not progress further, and then eventually falling from these states.
Spiritual practice establishes a relationship with oneself, and like any other relationship,
we must keep it balanced and harmonious. If we notice that we are developing a
"spiritual side" that contrasts too much with our "other side" we are becoming out of
balance and developing an "attachment to dharma practice." Our active life should be
an expression of our meditative life; the two are interwoven. They each support the
other; like any other good relationship. In my own life, I tend to cling to meditation, and
have had to work hard not to, and often my own teacher's cautions went right over my
We create our own ideas of what is spiritual and what is not. It is these ideas that need
to be frequently looked at and analyzed if we are to keep our spiritual practices truly
spiritual, or in other words make everything we do a truly beneficial activity. The finer
the line between our devotional activities and our "ordinary" activities the better.
Eventually we should see no distinction.
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Thought for the Day: October 16, 2011
and last evening I read a beautiful verse that describes how this can happen on even a
very advanced level. The verse is from the Ghanavyhua Sutra. It goes like this:
The teachings upon emptiness were given
That all views that living beings hold ,
Might be relinquished and dismissed.
But if the view of emptiness just heard
Is not itself refuted and destroyed,
There is no remedy for such a view,
And one is like the sick forsaken by their nurse.
But just as with a fire that does not stay
once all there is to burn has been consumed,
When it has burned the tinder wood of views,
The fire of emptiness itself goes out.
And when such views are thus removed,
The fire of perfect wisdom springs,
Defilements are consumed, afflictions burned away,
And then the mind, in all its beauty manifests.
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Thought for the Day: October 17, 2011
If things don't work out the way you wanted them to it shouldn't be a source of regret,
necessarily, because the way you wanted them to work out may be the real problem, not
the way they worked out.
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Thought for the Day: October 18, 2011
but to deny the way that they appear to exist. They appear to exist as independent solid
objects, apart from the mind, and have a selfhood of their own, in other words, chairness,
houseness, appleness, an underlying reality that forms their foundation and is real and
this way is that the material world becomes less of an object of grasping and
attachment and more an object of utter amazement, that while empty of any nature of
their own, things never the less do appear. And, this is a true wonder! The Avatamsaka
Sutra says it beautifully when it proclaims: Wonderful Existence does not obstruct True
Emptiness; True Emptiness does not obstruct Wonderful Existence.
A commonsensical way of saying this is: imagine a room full of furniture. If we remove
all the furniture we say the room is "empty." This is nihilism and is not the Buddhist
view. A Buddhist would say the room full of furniture is "empty" because the furniture
itself is empty.
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Thought for the Day: October 20, 2011
I often think about the incredible intuition of the great masters who have discovered
the secrets of the breath. How quiet their minds must have been to even give thought
of the breath's possibilities. They discovered that by watching the breath for a few
minutes every day mental clarity will gradually emerge, and that if pursued more payed
attention to all the details of their lives and simplified their lives to enable them to do
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Thought for the Day: October 21, 2011
Recognizing what can be left undone, is as important as recognizing what need be
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Thought for the Day: October 22, 2011
example, our anger is a big burden not only to our spiritual lives but our conventional
lives as well. The Buddha says: "Hatred harms the hater." In order to wash away
afflictive emotions, and there are many, hatred being one of them, we must approach
the problem through reasoning about it. In still contemplation we should dissect our
anger, for example, from many angels. If we are not thorough enough, we may lose
our anger for a while, but then it arises again. It is like seeing a coiled rope in dim light
and mistaking it for a snake, which causes you great alarm. But if you return with a
flashlight and see it as a rope; the fear is gone and well not arise again. However, if
you may still have doubts, and again become afraid. The point is, when we set out to
rid ourselves of disturbing emotion through right analyses, we must look at the
problem from many angels, and root out our problems one by one through analytical
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Thought for the Day: October 23, 2011
Praise and blame should both be examined equally. The Buddha taught that we
should constantly examine our own minds and our behaviour and increase all that is
good and gradually abandon all negative qualities. But, the praise and blame we hear
from others is not always reliable. We may be praised for an action that is negative
and blamed or criticized for a wholesome act. So, while we should listen to others,
for most often their objectivity can help us see what is difficult to see in ourselves, it
nevertheless should be scrutinized in terms of the path we are on.
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Thought for the Day: October 24, 2011
The reason so many relationships fail, is because we don't understand that every
relationship with someone else must begin with a relationship with ourselves.
Thought for the Day: October 25, 2011
The view of self is the basis of all disturbing emotions. Therefore Buddhism takes its
aim at the false view of selfhood rather than each and every afflictive emotion. If it is
proved that a tree does not exist, there is no need to disprove the existence of a
forest, as the Master Miphalm once said.
The assumption that there is something real that is the owner of all our experiences is
deeply ingrained over countless lifetimes. Great selfless masters who have penetrated
the illusory nature of the self have compassionately taught the dharma out of great
pity on all those burdened by it. These teachings if studied repeatedly will gradually
establish the correct basis of understanding that will act as a rudder for any form of
meditation we may engage ourselves in. Without this basis, we may develop
concentration power, but be off target with it. My teacher, Master Hsuan Hua, often
said it is like aiming at the moon, if you are one inch off when you start, you will be a
thousand miles off at the end.
Without study and contemplation, meditation practice by itself will be a useless
enterprise. If we don't know how to direct the concentration power meditation
generates, it will never lead to a sense of fulfilment. Correctly practiced, however,
meditation brings happiness rooted in understanding, as it gradually dissolves the
views of self and leaves afflictive emotions and attachments orphaned.
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Thought for the Day: October 26, 2011
Respect for others begins with self respect.
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claim that there is something to see that we aren’t seeing, but rather convince us
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Thought for the Day: October 28, 2011
People who practice Tantra while full of desire will never succeed no matter how
hard they try. It is like cooking sand grains, expecting to get cooked rice. Khenpo
Jikphun, one of the great Masters of tantra and one of the great revivalists of Tibetan
Buddhism after the Cultural Revolution, thought the point was so important that he
remained a life long celibate just for the sake of making the point clear to others, even
though a suitable consort (dakini) offered herself and he felt it karmically best for him.
Better to call a spade a spade.
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available to teach them personally, also pointing out that since books can't scold them,
it has some advantages.
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Although afflictions are endless; their root is one: view of a personal self.
Although attachments are endless, their root is one, view of a selfhood of
phenomena (holding that material things are composed of something real.) The
great master Miphalm points out that if the false view of a personal self is
destroyed all afflictions will vanish, so "go for the root, and don't worry about
twigs and branches," as a great Chan master once put it. Also, see the empty
nature that all appearances share, and attachment to the multiplicity of material
objects will dissolve.
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attachment. But, some things stick in our mind like glue and the mirror like quality
becomes more like quicksand that sucks us in. In Buddhism this mind is the
"constructed mind" and its root is the view of a personal self that owns the and many
more because we set ourselves up to do so by our thinking. The world of
appearances has nothing to do with how we react to the world. If it did, the world
would appear the same to everyone. But, it doesn't, and it doesn't because we all think
about it in varying ways.
So what is the right way to view the world? Well, that is the good part. There isn't any
"right" way that is right for everyone. But, what is right for everyone is to allow the
world to present itself brand new every day and ever moment of every day. This is a
difficult undertaking, but basically involves breaking the habit of viewing the world
the way we want to view it, and thereby allow the world to present itself as it really is;
which is wonderfully different for everyone.
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