Thought for the Day: September 1, 2008
Buddhism teaches us a path that makes the world a stepping stone to
higher understanding; while New Age and Self-helps' focus on happiness
that is a stone to trip over. Because motivation is so important, the
Buddha dharma removes all sense of selfishness from the path, and teaches
that as long as actions are selfishly motivated, no matter how righteous
they may appear, their results will be confined to the here and now.
Thought for the Day: September 3, 2008
The world can be either a bridge or quicksand depending on how we see it.
Enjoying what comes one's way by chance, without seeking anything, is the
surest way to pass over it without entanglements.
Thought for the Day: September 4, 2008
A set time each day should be alloted for meditation practice. Just as the
physical body needs its daily nourishment to stay healthy, so does our
dharma body. This is why all texts recommend a consistent daily practice.
Thought for the Day: September 5, 2008
Rather than lay down afflictive emotions, it is far better to consciously carry
them around. When disturbing emotions arise the first response should be
to look at them with a mind towards understanding why they are arising.
The viewpoint should be one of acceptance rather than rejection. No
matter how unpleasant they may be, we earned them.
Thought for the Day: September 6, 2008
If you believe that you are unhappy because you have few possessions, then
having many possessions would multiply that unhappiness.
Thought for the Day: September 7, 2008
It is not so important how we appear outwardly, but how we are inwardly;
why we do what we do, what we expect from what we do, what is the basis
of our actions.
Thought for the Day: September 8, 2008
Building a dharma practice requires a steady application of effort that is
balanced to meet our goals while working within our ability. Too much
practice is as bad as too little. While complete enlightenment is a goal we
all share; each of us has more immediate limitations to see through which
can be considered short term goals. Becoming a good human being is a
short term goal we all share; but what obstructs that is different for each of
us as individuals. Strengthening our strong points and lifting up our weak
ones are short term goals that lead to long term results.
It is tempting to chase flowers in the sky while ignoring our limitations; but
the dharma was never meant to be an escape from the here and now.
Frankly looking at our human weaknesses and addressing them will make
us worthy of more lofty realizations. A humble attitude full of humility will
make the path easier and more realistic because the goals are within our
Thought for the Day: September 9, 2008
While it is important to study with good teachers; we don't need to pay
unreasonable fees for the privilege. If the fee seems unreasonable, it probably
is. It may be better to cuddle with a good book for the afternoon, than pay
an unreasonable fee.
This being said, it is important to support genuine dharma organizations
and teachers according to our means, as this is an excellent way of
cultivating merit and practicing the giving Paramita.
Thought for the Day: September 10, 2008
Those who blame others know no comfort.
Thought for the Day: September 12, 2008
Everything we do comes out of emptiness and that is why we have an
inexhaustible source of energy. If it were otherwise, we would be limited, as
our fuel source would one day be exhausted. So why is it that some say,
"Since all is empty, why bother with the discipline that leads to
enlightenment?" This view is rooted in the misunderstanding of emptiness
to mean the absence of the world as we know it. And being deeply attached
to the world, their viewpoint is rooted in fear, not understanding. However,
true emptiness is the realization that the world too is empty. It is those who
hold this view that think, "Since everything is empty, why not practice the
path and engage in the discipline it requires. Since the doer and his actions
are empty, the effort too is empty.
Thought for the Day: September 14, 2008
Unless we are living in a cave or monastery, we will have to deal with all
the concerns that some call mundane existence. As dharma practitioners it
is especially important to view these concerns as opportunities rather than
obstructions. Unpleasant circumstances of mortgage payments, job loss,
medical bills, etc., which seem to be such large obstructions to us, would
no doubt be dwarfed by the cold, hunger, and solitude of life in a cave, or
the austere discipline of monastic life under a truly accomplished master. It
is up to each individual to extract meaning from the conditions that govern
his life, avoiding all philosophical rationalizations, and embracing them as
opportunities to practice mindfulness and clarity within adversity --- the
same way a yogi might deal with the difficulties of his life.
Thought for the Day: September 15, 2008
The causes and conditions that lead one to practice Buddhism are as
varied as people practicing it. Often it is the case, however, that
dissatisfaction with one's material life lead one to Buddhism, or another
spiritual path. The Buddha, however, was born a Prince, had a lovely wife
and child, and a Kingdom to inherit. The fact that he had the insight to
doubt the real value of all that he had, renounced it, and set out alone in
his quest for truth, is a remarkable testimony of his insight. It should also
be a lesson to those of us who are complacent because we are satisfied with
our lives and see no reason to look deeper. As my teacher often said, "To
enjoy one's blessings, is to exhaust one's blessings."
Thought for the Day: September 16, 2008
The Taoist philosopher Chaung Tse said, "I don't know about doing
things, I just know about leaving things alone." This is often interpreted as
a passive approach to life; but in reality it is every bit as active as it is
passive, in fact it is a perfect balance between the two.
There is a propensity to act that is innate in all of us. This can be easily
seen by our desire to do something even when there is nothing to do. It is
difficult to go against this driving force. Ignoring it generally does not
work; most of us who try are run over by the flood of thoughts and
impulses that arise, and we become miserable. But, the Taoist found that if
the mind is properly trained the unconscious momentum to act can be stilled.
Thought for the Day: September 21, 2008
Rather than give us answers, Buddhism teaches us to ask the right
Thought for the Day: September 26, 2008
If we keep our practice of Buddhism to ourselves it will not become an
obstructing source of pride. If others view us as a good human being,
that is enough.
Thought for the Day: September 26, 2008
If one's discipline is pure one always has a clear conscience and is not
weighted down by doubt. If one's discipline is not pure one will have
little faith in oneself. This is why discipline is the foundation of all
schools of Buddhism. Even if it seems one is making no progress on
the path, if one is keeping pure discipline one will never doubt one's
ability to eventually move forward. But, if discipline is not intact, the
lack of progress will create a doubt of the worthiness of oneself and the
path, and one will abandon practice completely.