Religion is not just some dry intellectual idea but rather your basic philosophy of life: you hear a teaching that makes sense to you, find through experience that it relates positively with your psychological makeup, get a real taste of it through practice, and adopt it as your spiritual path.
That's the right way to enter the spiritual path.
Be gentle first with yourself – if you wish to be gentle with others.
PRAYER FOR FREEDOM FROM SUFFERING
May all beings everywhere plagued with sufferings of body and mind quickly be freed from their illnesses.
May those frightened cease to be afraid, and may those bound be free.
May the powerless find power, and may people think of befriending one another.
May those who find themselves in trackless, fearful wilderness the children, the aged, the unprotected be guarded by beneficent celestials, and may they swiftly attain Buddhahood.
May we dedicate these prayers to the people suffering all over the world.
Every morning, when we wake up, we have twenty-four brand-new hours to live. What a precious gift! We have the capacity to live in a way that these twenty-four hours will bring peace, joy, and happiness to ourselves and others.
Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see. The Question is whether or not we are in touch with it. We don't have to travel far away to enjoy the blue sky. We don't have to leave our city or even our neighborhood to enjoy the eyes of a beautiful child. Even the air we breathe can be a source of joy.
We can smile, breathe, walk, and eat our meals in a way that allows us to be in touch with the abundance of happiness that is available. We are very good at preparing to live, but not very good at living. We know how to sacrifice ten years for a diploma, and we are willing to work very hard to get a job, a car, a house, and so on. But we have difficulty remembering that we are alive at the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive.
Every breath we take, every step we make, can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity. We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment. ...
Thich Nhat Hanh
My religion is to live and die without regret.
Sometimes one creates a dynamic impression by saying something,
and sometimes one creates as significant an impression by remaining silent.
Through violence, you may 'solve' one problem, but you sow the seeds for another.
One has to try to develop one's inner feelings, which can be done simply by training one's mind.
This is a priceless human asset and one you don't have to pay income tax on!
First one must change.
I first watch myself, check myself, then expect changes from others.
Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.
Without them, humanity cannot survive.
I myself feel, and also tell other Buddhists that the question of Nirvana will come later.
There is not much hurry.
If in day to day life you lead a good life, honesty, with love,
with compassion, with less selfishness,
then automatically it will lead to Nirvana.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
The basis of Buddhist practice is not merely sitting in silent meditation, but common sense. If we behave arrogant and selfish, what can we expect from the people around us?
A nice explanation from Taming the Mind by Thubten Chodron:
Dr. Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and founder of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Non-violence, in his June 9 lecture at the University of Puerto Rico, shared the following story as an example of "non-violence in parenting":
"I was 16 years old and living with my parents at the institute my grandfather had founded 18 miles outside of Durban, South Africa, in the middle of the sugar plantations. We were deep in the country and had no neighbours, so my two sisters and I would always look forward to going to town to visit friends or go to the movies.
One day, my father asked me to drive him to town for an all-day conference, and I jumped at the chance. Since I was going to town, my mother gave me a list of groceries she needed and, since I had all day in town, my father ask me to take care of several pending chores, such as getting the car serviced. When I dropped my father off that morning, he said, 'I will meet you here at 5:00 pm, and we will go home together.'
After hurriedly completing my chores, I went straight to the nearest movie theatre. I got so engrossed in a John Wayne double-feature that I forgot the time. It was 5:30 before I remembered. By the time I ran to the garage and got the car and hurried to where my father was waiting for me, it was almost 6:00.
He anxiously asked me, 'Why were you late?' I was so ashamed of telling him I was watching a John Wayne western movie that I said, 'The car wasn't ready, so I had to wait,' not realizing that he had already called the garage. When he caught me in the lie, he said: 'There's something wrong in the way I brought you up that didn't give you the confidence to tell me the truth. In order to figure out where I went wrong with you, I'm going to walk home 18 miles and think about it.'
So, dressed in his suit and dress shoes, he began to walk home in the dark on mostly unpaved, unlit roads. I couldn't leave him, so for five-and-a-half hours I drove behind him, watching my father go through this agony for a stupid lie that I uttered.
I decided then and there that I was never going to lie again. I often think about that episode and wonder, if he had punished me the way we punish our children, whether I would have learned a lesson at all. I don't think so. I would have suffered the punishment and gone on doing the same thing. But this single non-violent action was so powerful that it is still as if it happened yesterday. That is the power of non-violence. "
Edited by Origami 13 Jan `05, 2:17PM
One day a father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing his son how poor people live.
They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.
On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, "How was the trip?"
" It was great, Dad."
"Did you see how poor people live?" the father asked.
"Oh yeah," said the son.
"So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?" asked the father.
The son answered: "I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them."
The boy's father was speechless.
Then his son added, "Thanks, Dad, for showing me how poor we are."
I was at the temple when I had a sudden stomachache. I dashed to the nearest restroom... and to my expectations, being a busy day with hundreds of people, it was out of toilet paper. I struggled to the next available toilet- a less "popular" one, searching desperately in each cubicle. Thank goodness there was a roll with a few scanty rounds of paper on it. I had an urge to rip it all out, to use all of whatever was left. But the thought struck me that there might be another poor fellow out there facing the same problem I did. Brimming with gratitude to the last person who saved some paper for me, I used slightly less than half of what was left...
About two hours later.... Surprise, surprise... I was hit by another stomachache! Once again, I dashed to the restroom- the first which I approached earlier. Nope, it hasn't been stocked up with fresh rolls of paper yet. Feeling rather hopeless, I returned to the less "popular" one, almost convinced there would be no paper left... Surprise, surprise... in the same cubicle I used, whatever remained of the paper still remains. The "others" that I had thought of saving paper for turned out to be myself! I became the "others!" Guess what I did? Brimming with gratitude to the last person who saved some paper for me, even though it was me, I used only half of what was left...
What is the moral of the story? It pays to be grateful- to have a heart of gratitude to all the blessings in life- even if it is mere toilet paper in a public toilet. We should never "squander" our blessings by taking them for granted. Whatever goes around comes around in the name of karma. It pays to be kind, to have Compassion for others- because you never know who it could be! In the end, being kind to others is being kind to yourself too.
From: [email protected]; contribute your article or your thoughts [email protected]
My friends, I implore all those who read this to tell the people you know about the advice Lama Zopa Rinpoche has given for natural disasters.
My fellow brother has posted an email regarding a Californian quake. http://www.sgforums.com/?action=thread_display&thread_id=112440
The teachings this year by HH Dalai Lama was finished before the tsunami struck. Most of the people left on the 22nd of Dec. They should be back by 23 Dec in Singapore. I was still in India till end of the year. If Singapore was not blocked by the Sumatran Islands, I'll have no family or country to come back to.
We Singaporean have accumulated a lot of merits to be born where we are. Let us do our little bit to help the victims reduce their negative karma.
One incident about natural disasters happening to one of my teachers happened in the states. Geshe Sopa who stays in Deer Park in Wisconsin was on his way home when the area there was struck by tornado. The whole area in Wisconsin was badly struck and Geshe Sopa was on the road back home. The police stopped their car but Geshe Sopa was worried about his monks and students staying there. Geshe Sopa explained to the police that he was going home and the police then found out that Deer Park was a tibetan monastery. He then said that the tornado miraculously went aroung the monastery and destroyed everything around it. The houses around were destroyed but not the Park. By the pure practice and morality of the monks the disaster was averted.
Please let more people know about the advice. Even if you do not believe it, please pass it on. May all who hear, see or know about this be the catalyst to help more people avoid disasters.
A tough comment from Lama Yeshe in 'The Tantric Path of Purification':
"Why are we bored, lonely and lazy? Because we don't have the will to totally open our hearts to others. If you have the strength of will to totally open your heart to others, you will eliminate laziness, selfishness and loneliness. Actually, the reason you get lonely is that you are not doing anything. If you were busy, you wouldn't have time to get lonely. Loneliness can only enter an inactive mind. If your mind is dull and your body inactive, then you get lonely. Basically, this comes from a selfish attitude, concern for yourself alone. That is the cause of loneliness, laziness and a closed heart."
There was a young monk in China who was a very serious practitioner of the Dharma.
Once, this monk came across something he did not understand, so he went to ask the master. When the master heard the question, he kept laughing. The master then stood up and walked away, still laughing.
The young monk was very disturbed by the master's reaction. For the next 3 days, he could not eat, sleep nor think properly. At the end of 3 days, he went back to the master and told the master how disturbed he had felt. When the master heard this, he said, "Monk, do you know what your problem is? Your problem is that YOU ARE WORSE THAN A CLOWN!"
The monk was shocked to hear that, "Venerable Sir, how can you say such a thing?! How can I be worse than a clown?" The master explained, "A clown enjoys seeing people laugh. You? You feel disturbed because another person laughed. Tell me, are u not worse than a clown?"
When the monk heard this, he began to laugh. He was enlightened.
Two monks were returning to the monastery in the evening. It had rained and there were puddles of water on the road sides. At one place a beautiful young woman was standing unable to walk accross because of a puddle of water. The elder of the two monks went up to a her lifted her in his alms and left her on the other side of the road, and continued his way to the monastery.
In the evening the younger monk came to the elder monk and said, "Sir, as monks, we cannot touch a woman ?"
The elder monk answered "yes, brother".
Then the younger monk asks again, " but then Sir, how is that you lifted that woman on the roadside ?"
The elder monk smiled at him and told him " I left her on the other side of the road, but you are still carrying her "
INSTRUCTIONS FOR LIFE
1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
2. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
3. Follow the three Rs: Respect for self Respect for others and Responsibility for all your actions.
4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
6. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
7. When you realise you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
8. Spend some time alone every day.
9. Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.
10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
11. Live a good, honourable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll be able to enjoy it a second time.
12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don't bring up the past.
14. Share your knowledge. You'll die, but may achieve immortality.
15. Be gentle with the earth.
16. Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.
17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
19. Approach love and compassion with reckless abandon.
The morning after Philip Kapleau and Professor Phillips arrived at Ryutakuji Monastery they were given a tour of the place by Abbot Soen Nakagawa. Both Americans had been heavily influenced by tales of ancient Chinese masters who'd destroyed sacred texts, and even images of the Buddha, in order to free themselves from attachment to anything. They were thus surprised and disturbed to find themselves being led into a ceremonial hall, where the Roshi invited them to pay respects to a statue of the temple's founder, Hakuin Zenji, by bowing and offering incense.
On seeing Nakagawa bow before the image, Phillips couldn't contain himself, and burst out: "The old Chinese masters burned or spit on Buddha statues! Why do you bow down before them?"
"If you want to spit, you spit," replied the Roshi. "I prefer to bow."
From: One Bird One Stone: 108 American Zen Stories by Sean Murphy
"If there is something you truly want to know, then you truly want to listen to your own wisdom.
You know, meditation is learning how to listen with your own wisdom, so that you can see.
I think why meditation is amazingly important,
is that somehow our unconscious world is much bigger.
It is huge, universal, and we don't understand that one.
Meditation allows this world to be light and knowable, understandable.
That is why it is important.
Normally we are totally robbed by the egotistic, conventional mind,
not allowing the fundamental mind to be functioning.
That is why one should have confidence, truly... through experience,
one has confidence in one's spiritual journey."
By Lama Thubten Yeshe
Humans prepare for the future all their lives, yet meet the next life totally unprepared.
It is never too late.
Even if you are going to die tomorrow,
Keep yourself straight and clear and be a happy human being today.
If you keep your situation happy day by day,
you will eventually reach the greatest happiness of Enlightenment.
If your spiritual practice and the demands of your everyday life are not in harmony, it means there's something wrong with the way you are practicing.
Your practice should satisfy your dissatisfied mind while providing solutions to the problems of everyday life.
If it doesn't, check carefully to see what you really understand about your religious practice.
When Lord Buddha spoke about suffering, he wasn't referring simply to superficial problems like illness and injury, but to the fact that the dissatisfied nature of the mind itself is suffering. No matter how much of something you get, it never satisfies your desire for better or more. This unceasing desire is suffering; its nature is emotional frustration.
We are not compelled to meditate by some outside agent, by other people, or by God.
Rather, just as we are responsible for our own suffering, so are we solely responsible for our own cure.
We have created the situation in which we find ourselves, and it is up to us to create the circumstances for our release.
Lama YesheEdited by Origami 27 Jan `05, 2:21PM
"A good spiritual friend who will help us to stay on the path, with whom we can discuss our difficulties frankly, sure of a compassionate response, provides an important support system which is often lacking. Although people live and practice together, one-upmanship often comes between them. A really good friend is like a mountain guide. The spiritual path is like climbing a mountain: we don't really know what we will find at the summit. We have only heard that it is beautiful, everybody is happy there, the view is magnificent and the air unpolluted. If we have a guide who has already climbed the mountain, he can help us avoid falling into a crevasse, or slipping on loose stones, or getting off the path. The one common antidote for all our hindrances is noble friends and noble conversations, which are health food for the mind."
"Live with compassion
Work with compassion
Die with compassion
Meditate with compassion
Enjoy with compassion
When problems come,
Experience them with compassion."
A praise of compassion by Lama Zopa Rinpoche:
"May I become food and drink in the aeons of famine for those poverty-stricken suffers.
May I be a doctor, medicine and nurse for all sick beings in the world until everyone is cured.
May I become never-ending wish-fulfilling treasures materialising in front of each of them as all the enjoyments they need.
May I be a guide for those who do not have a guide, a leader for those who journey, a boat for those who want to cross over, and all sorts of ships, bridges, beautiful parks for those who desire them, and light for those who need light.
And may I become beds for those who need a rest, and a servant to all who need servants.
May I also become the basic conditions for all sentient beings, such as earth or even the sky, which is indestructible.
May I always be the living conditions for all sentient beings until all sentient beings are enlightened."
HOW TO BE COMPASSIONATE TO ENEMIES?
Someone asked the following question to His Holiness the Dalai Lama:
How does a person or group of people compassionately and yet straightforwardly confront another person or group of people who have committed crimes of genocide against them?
His Holiness: "When talking about compassion and compassionately dealing with such situations one must bear in mind what is meant by compassionately dealing with such cases. Being compassionate towards such people or such a person does not mean that you allow the other person to do whatever the other person or group of people wishes to do, inflicting suffering upon you and so on. Rather, compassionately dealing with such a situation has a different meaning.
When a person or group of people deals with such a situation and tries to prevent such crimes there is generally speaking two ways in which you could do that, or one could say, two motivations. One is out of confrontation, out of hatred that confronts such a situation. There is another case in which, although in action it may be of the same force and strength, but the motivation would not be out of hatred and anger but rather out of compassion towards the perpetrators of these crimes.
Realising that if you allow the other person, the perpetrator of the crime, to indulge his or her own negative habits then in the long run the other person or group is going to suffer the consequences of that negative action. Therefore, out of the consideration of the potential suffering for the perpetrator of such crimes, then you confront the situation and apply equally forceful and strong measures.
I think this is quite relevant and important in modern society, especially in a competitive society. When someone genuinely practices compassion, forgiveness and humility then sometimes some people will take advantage of such a situation. Sometimes it is necessary to take a countermeasure, then with that kind of reasoning and compassion, the countermeasure is taken with reasoning and compassion rather than out of negative emotion. That is actually more effective and appropriate. This is important. For example my own case with Tibet in a national struggle against injustice we take action without using negative emotion. It sometimes seems more effective."
"Health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die."
Buddhists do not have a morbid fascination with death, but, as Tibetan Master Drakpa Gyaltsen said:
'Humans prepare for the future all their lives, yet meet the next life totally unprepared.'
"Forgiveness is a form of realism. It doesn't deny, minimize, or justify what others have done to us or the pain that we have suffered. It encourages us to look squarely at those old wounds and see them for what they are. And it allows us to see how much energy we have wasted and how much we have damaged ourselves by not forgiving.
Forgiveness is an internal process. It can't be forced, and it doesn't come easy. It brings with it great feelings of wellness and freedom. But we experience this only when we want to heal and when we are willing to work for it.
Forgiveness is a sign of positive self-esteem. We no longer identify ourselves by our past injuries and injustices. We are no longer victims. We claim the right to stop hurting when we say, "I'm tired of the pain, and I want to be healed." At that moment, forgiveness becomes a possibility-although it may take time and much hard work before we finally achieve it.
Forgiveness is letting go of the past. It doesn't erase what happened, but it does allow us to lessen and perhaps even eliminate the pain of the past. The pain from our past no longer dictates how we live in the present, and it no longer determines our future.
It also means that we no longer need resentment and anger as an excuse for our shortcomings. We don't need them as a weapon to punish others nor as a shield to protect ourselves by keeping others away. And most importantly, we don't need these feelings to identify who we are. We become more than merely victims of our past.
Forgiveness is no longer wanting to punish those who hurt us. It is understanding that the anger and hatred that we feel toward them hurts us far more than it hurts them. It is seeing how we hide ourselves in our anger and how those feelings prevent us from healing. It is discovering the inner peace that becomes ours when we let go of the past and forget vengeance.
Forgiveness is moving on. It is recognizing all that we have lost because of our refusal to forgive. It is realizing that the energy that we spend hanging on to the past is better spent on improving our present and our future. It is letting go of the past so that we can move on.
We all have been hurt. And at one time or another most of us have made the mistake of trying to run away from the past. The problem is that no matter how fast or how far we run, the past always catches up to us-and usually at the most inopportune time. When we forgive, we are dealing with the past in such a way that we no longer have to run.
For me, learning how to forgive wasn't easy. But I did learn, and my life is better for it - even here on death row."
Michael B. Ross