Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Via Ram Dass / Words of Wisdom - November 29, 2017

If we have finally decided we want God, we’ve got to give it all up. The process is one of keeping the ground as we go up, so we always have ground, so that we’re high and low at the same moment – that’s a tough game to learn, but it’s a very important one. The game isn’t to get high – the game is to get balanced and liberated.
- Ram Dass -

Via Daily Dharma: Joy Arises from Simplicity

Once we are willing to be directly intimate with our life as it arises, joy emerges out of the simplest of life experiences.

—Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara, “Simple Joy

Via 7 of 12 Daily Dharma: Break through Walls with Dharma

The dharma breaks through every wall we erect because its ultimate goal is compassion, but compassion arises only when we embrace the foreigner as the self.

—Kurt Spellmeyer, “Globalism 3.0

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Via Ram Dass / Words of Wisdom - November 26, 2017

The sooner one develops compassion in this journey, the better. Compassion lets us appreciate that each individual is doing what he or she must do, and that there is no reason to judge another person or oneself. You merely do what you can to further your own awakening.  

-  Ram Dass -

Via Daily Dharma: Spiritual Goal-Setting

If you aren’t careful, you’ll spend your whole life doing nothing besides waiting for your ordinary-person hopes to someday be fulfilled.

—Kodo Sawaki Roshi, “To You

Via Daily Dharma: We Are All Believers

When we see that belief gives color to every stratum of our experience of reality, we can embrace others as kindred believers, regardless of the shades we tend to favor.

—Pamela Gayle White, “Real Belief

Friday, November 24, 2017

Via Daily Dharma: Don’t Spend Your Time on Trivial Pursuits

It is easy to fritter away your time in frivolous pursuits that do not lead anywhere. But living in this way is like eating junk food: it is ultimately unsatisfying.

—Judy Lief, “Train Your Mind: Don’t Be Frivolous

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Via Daily Dharma: Grounding Oneself in Wisdom and Compassion

In an ecosystem of dharma awareness a spiral of gratitude radiates out, grounded in the wisdom teachings and compassion of heart and mind.

—Wendy Johnson, “Spiral of Gratitude

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Via Ram Dass / Words of Wisdom - November 22, 2017

If you’re involved with relationships with parents or children, instead of saying, "I can’t do spiritual practices because I have children," you say, "My children are my spiritual practice." If you’re traveling a lot, your traveling becomes your yoga.

You begin to use your life as your curriculum for coming to God. You use the things that are on your plate, that are presented to you. So that relationships, economics, psychodynamics—all of these become grist for the mill of awakening. They're all a part of your curriculum.

- Ram Dass -

Via Daily Dharma: Make Gratitude a Practice

The Buddha encouraged us to think of the good things done for us by our parents, by our teachers, friends, whomever; and to do this intentionally, to cultivate it, rather than just letting it happen accidentally.

—Ajahn Sumedho, “The Gift of Gratitude

Via Daily Dharma: Perfect Your Love, Not Yourself

The point isn’t to perfect your body or your personality. The point is really to perfect your compassion and your love.

—Jack Kornfield, “Finding Freedom Right Here, Right Now

Via Daily Dharma: It’s All in the Moment

With your reaction to each experience, you create the karma that will color your future. It is up to you whether this new karma is positive or negative. You simply have to pay attention at the right moment.

—Trungram Gyalwa Rinpoche, “The Power of the Third Moment

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Via Ram Dass / Words of Wisdom - November 19, 2017

We can't push away the world. We have to enter into life fully in order to become free. 

-  Ram Dass -

Via Daily Dharma: Impermanence Must Be Felt

A sense of impermanence has to be felt and experienced. If we understand it truly, we will handle all our tribulations far better.

—Traleg Kyabgon, “Accepting the Unacceptable

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Via Daily Dharma: Finding a Genuine Teacher

If students really want to find a good teacher . . . they should find one who shows true interest in the student’s well-being, by which I mean to say they show interest in that student as a person.

—Lobsang Rapgay, “What Went Wrong

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Via Jake Sasseville‎ / The Largest Baha'i Facebook Group Ever: OPENLY BAHA’I, OPENLY GAY, OPENLY PROUD.


im editing this poem-essay
at the end of my second pilgrimage
at the Tel Aviv airport
in Israel.

i dedicate it
for my Atlanta friend,
a Baha’i recently back from pilgrimage
who shared it may be his last
because he’s gay
and doesn’t know
how much longer
he’ll be accepted
as an out, gay Baha’i.
he’s 26.

i write this poem-essay
for my Baha’i friend from Colorado
who I met in israel
who’s best friend serves the Faith
endlessly, with a pure and radiant heart—
all activities —
but doesn’t call himself Baha’i,
and won’t,
because he’s gay.

i write this poem-essay
for my dear friends fiancée in Europe
who wants to support her man
and his journey with Bahá’u’lláh
but texts me torn,
unable to reconcile why she’d ever
support a Religion
where she perceives gays
as unequal.

i write this poem-essay
for my friend in Germany,
who I met in israel,
who doesn’t understand
why her lesbian friends
can’t love Bahá’u’lláh
and be married, too.

the stories flowed
dozens, everywhere i go.
there are probably hundreds more.

it’s the conversation
beneath the conversation.
the whispers
beneath the deep love
for the Baha’i Faith.

this is for you
this is an invitation.

doesn’t matter
that you may not be
being gay and open
and — God forbid, proud —
without needing to be
flamboyant about it,
is rare in any organized Religion—
including the Baha’i Faith.

the teachings of the Baha’i Faith
include preserving unity at all costs,
independent investigation of truth,
the oneness of God, Humanity & Religion
and bringing oneself to account each day—
it’s all between You and God,
no one else.

it was hard as hell coming out
as an openly gay guy
who was also a Baha’i —
when almost no gays
are out, or comfortable taking.
and it’s taken almost a decade since
to become really proud of it.

there aren’t many openly gay Baha’is
that don’t feel shunned
or judged
or as if their beloved community
believes they’re wrong,
or sick,
or have some sort of illness.

i have heard the stories —
was invited to the secret
underground Facebook groups
and saw a fragmented group
of incredible humans,
doing God’s work,
who have allowed
a worldwide community’s
misunderstanding of gay
to dim their own light.

we need openly gay Bahai’s
and we need you now.

ive seen friends not know
how to talk about the gay thing
at feasts or devotionals,
or when sharing the Faith with others,
or who don’t know how to share
Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings on marriage
without appearing homophobic.

we can do better.

the world needs gay Bahai’s
who come on pilgrimage
who hold devotionals
who raise children
and help us continue to build
beautiful communities.

the world needs gay Baha’is
who talk as openly
as this.

this is an invitation.

come out of the closet
and be your best version of you,
serve humanity,
be kind
and know that your love
for Bahá’u’lláh
is more important
than anything else
in the world.

when I wrote my book in 2012
i talked very little about being gay
and very little about being Baha’i.

i was ashamed
and didn’t want to feel
or be told I was wrong.
or worse: be whispered about.

and i got emails
got called out big time —
from South America to Illinois
repressed or shamed bahais
or those serving on LSAs
that were critical of half-out gays
in their communities —

they were all asking me:
“How did you reconcile
being an openly gay Baha’i?”

like I somehow have the answer...

and it threw me into a tizzy
because I realized I had reconciled
and I don’t really even have the answer.

i was openly gay
and love Bahá’u’lláh,
but I had buried dealing with this
as far in the closet as I once was
for 24 years.

i was angry
and lashing out
the world was against me
and no one else was openly gay
and Baha’i
and proud.

ive dealt with it
by talking about it
by living my life,
and not hiding.
by laughing
and consulting.
and not acting
like a victim
but as a strong
human being.

these days
i live lightly,
don’t understand everything,
question way too much,
laugh way too loud,
date publicly,
and always turn my will
and my life
over to the care
of God.

that’s what being
an openly gay Baha’i
is like.

one cannot be shamed
unless one holds that shame already
(and if you hold it,
you can let it go).

one cannot hide
unless you feel
there is something
to hide
(being seen is healthy).

this is an invitation.

for the closeted gay Baha’is
know that you’re not alone
and I have been loved
since the first day
I said ‘I’m gay.’

id even say
being gay
has brought
a love
and a light
and an understanding
to the communities
ive been lucky enough
to be apart of.

you can be a beacon, too.
you’ll deal with some crap,
but all that crap,
it’s the pain of the Other —
or the Community —
the Others inability,
or the Community’s inability
to accept
who they really are,
in the face of you accepting
who you really are.

by the way,
if gays weren’t a natural occurrence
natural selection
would’ve ended it generations ago.

think about it.

1 in 12 in the animal kingdom
and humanity
gay gay gay.

whether or not they’ve been out,
gays have been bringing about
a more conscious,

there are too few gays
in the beautiful Baha’i Faith.

there are new studies
showing that after 3 boys
are in any one woman’s womb,
every boy after
has a 33% higher chance
of being gay.

science is starting
to catch up.

it’s a natural occurrence,
we are nature’s design
nature’s beauty,
community builders,
artistic expressers,
kindhearted listening ears,
and a whole bunch of beauty —
and while this might trigger some,
the science is emerging.

James O’Keefe’s Ted Talk
It’s about survival not sex”
is a radical shift
in scientific explanation
and it will move you.

it’s time to get on with it
to come out the closet,
and for communities to make it
a safe celebration
when folks do come out.

it’s not enough to accept
communities must celebrate.

it’s hard to do any work —
especially bringing the world together —
like Bahai’s so earnestly are doing —
and I’ll let you in on a secret:
it’s about 10x harder
if you’re repressed
or the ones that are doing
the repressing.

let it go.
celebrate the gay bahais
that come out,
or those investigating
the Writings is Bahá’u’lláh.

celebrate them you people,
we haven’t done a good enough job
making it safe
for all types
to walk on through.

there are those
who will love Bahá’u’lláh
but who won’t conform,
where abidance will be an issue
and we need to show folks
they are welcomed
and they are welcomed now!

7 years since my last pilgrimage
praying at the most Holy Thresholds
in the most beautiful place on earth,
in gardens that are perfect,
that cause emotion from the deepest parts...
a once in a lifetime opportunity
twice in my 32 years.
blessed beyond measure.

here’s to living,
loving and accepting

the time is now.
this is an invitation.

J. Sasseville.
Haifa, Israel.
November 5, 2017.

Via Lion's Roar / How to Practice Shamatha Meditation

Shamatha meditation—mindfulness or concentration—is the foundation of Buddhist practice. Lama Rod Owens teaches us a version from the Vajrayana tradition.

Shamatha means “peaceful abiding” or “tranquility.” Also called mindfulness or concentration meditation, shamatha is an important introductory practice that leads to the practice of vipashyana, or insight meditation.

The purpose of shamatha meditation is to stabilize the mind by cultivating a steady awareness of the object of meditation. The traditional practice of shamatha uses different kinds of supports or anchors for our practice. Eventually, this leads to practicing without supports and meditating on emptiness itself in an open awareness. For this particular practice, the instructions will be for shamatha meditation using the breath as the focus of our practice.

Shamatha mediation allows us to experience our mind as it is. When we practice shamatha, we are able to see that our mind is full of thoughts, some conducive to our happiness and further realization, and others not. It is not extraordinary that our minds are full of thoughts, and it is important to understand that it is natural to have so much happening in the mind.

Over time, practicing shamatha meditation calms our thoughts and emotions. We experience tranquility of mind and calmly abide with our thoughts as they are. Eventually, this leads to a decrease in unhelpful thoughts.

When we experience stable awareness, we are then ready to practice vipashyana, in which we develop insight into what “mind” is by investigating the nature of thoughts themselves. In the Vajrayana tradition of Buddhism, the ultimate goal is to practice calm abiding and insight in union, which opens the door to realizing the true nature of mind.

Traditionally, shamatha practice is taught through instructions on the physical body and then looking at the meditation instructions themselves.

To read the full article and more click here


Via Daily Dharma: Maturing through Hardship

We don’t wish for suffering, but once we understand how to be in relationship with it, it becomes the means through which we mature as loving and wise people.

—Thanissara, “The Grit That Becomes a Pearl

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Via Ram Dass / Words of Wisdom - November 15, 2017

When we have the compassion that comes from understanding how it is, we don't lay a trip on anybody else as to how they ought to be. We don't say to our parents, "Why don't you understand about the spirit and why I'm a vegetarian?" We don't say to our husband or wife, "Why do you still want sex when all I want to do is read the Gospel of Ramakrishna?"

A conscious being does all that he or she can to create a space for being with God but does no violence to the existing karma to do it.

- Ram Dass -

Via Daily Dharma: Karma Is Defined by Choice

Karma means that we are not defined by our situation but rather by the choices we make.

—Gyalwang Drukpa, “How to Combat Fear

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Via Daily Dharma: How Habits Stick

Sticking to the precepts requires constant self-monitoring, discernment, and effort, but there comes a point when the practicality, the boon, of the thing sinks into the organic body and saturates one’s actions. Violating the precepts gets harder to do.

—Mary Talbot, “The Joy of No Sex

Monday, November 13, 2017

Via Daily Dharma: Seek Out Real Change

The validity of a teaching has nothing to do with the qualities of the teacher. All that matters is whether, when put into practice, it can effect a real change in the way you live.

—Stephen Batchelor, “Why I Quit Guru Devotion

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Via Ram Dass / Words of Wisdom - November 12, 2017

The devotional path isn’t necessarily a straight line to enlightenment. There’s a lot of back and forth, negotiations if you will, between the ego and the soul. You look around at all the aspects of suffering, and you watch your heart close in judgment. Then you practice opening it again and loving this too, as a manifestation of the Beloved, another way the Beloved is taking form. Again your love grows vast.

In Bhakti, as you contemplate, emulate, and take on the qualities of the Beloved, your heart keeps expanding until you see the whole universe as the Beloved, even the suffering.

Ram Dass

Via Daily Dharma: Nourish Awareness in Conversation

Applying right speech is difficult in the beginning . . . but if you practice every time you talk to someone, the mind will learn how to be aware, to understand what it should or should not say, and to know when it is necessary to talk.

—Sayadaw U Tejaniya, “The Wise Investigator

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Via Lion's Roar / Where Will You Stand?

American Flag, 1977 by Robert Mapplethorpe.

If we are to uphold the dharma, says Rev. angel Kyodo williams, we must stand up to racism and expose its institutionalized forms—even in our Buddhist communities.

We are at a critical moment in the history of the nation as well as within the Buddhist teaching and tradition in America. This is the “back of the bus” moment of our time. Fifty years after civil rights laws were laid down, it is clear that these laws were enshrined within a structure that continues to profit from anti-Black racism. The necessary bias that the system requires in order to perpetuate itself has permeated our sanghas, and in this very moment, Buddhists are called upon to put aside business as usual. If you have ever wondered how you would have shown up in the face of the challenge put before white America when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, upending the accepted social order, now is when you will find out. Will we actually embody our practice and teachings—or not? It is a clarifying moment about who we are as individuals and who we have been thus far as a collective of people laying claim to the teachings of the Buddha, waving the flag of wisdom and compassion all the while.

Our inability as a nation to atone for the theft of these lands and the building of wealth, power, and privilege on the countless backs and graves of Black people is our most significant obstacle to being at peace with ourselves, and thus with the world. The Buddhist community is a mirror image of this deep internal conflict that arises out of a persistent resistance to playing its appropriate societal role, even as we have available to us rigorous teachings to help us do the necessary work.

As demographics shift, ushering in greater pools of racially diverse seekers, this reluctance promises to be our undoing. We simply cannot engage with either the ills or promises of society if we continue to turn a blind eye to the egregious and willful ignorance that enables us to still not “get it” in so many ways. It is by no means our making, but given the culture we are emerging from and immersed in, we are responsible.

White folks’ particular reluctance to acknowledge their impact as a collective, while continuing to benefit from the construct of the collective, leaves a wound intact without a dressing. The air needed to breathe through forgiveness is smothered. Healing is suspended for all. Truth is necessary for reconciliation.

Will we as Buddhists express the promise of, and commitment to, liberation for all beings, or will we instead continue a hyper-individualized salvation model—the myth of meritocracy—that is also the foundation of this country’s untruth?

The work of dharma communities is the same work of the America that wants to live up to its promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is to kick the habit of racism, cultural dominance, and upholding oppressive systems. More poignantly, our challenge, our responsibility, our deep resounding call is to be at the forefront of this overdue evolutionary thrust forward. Why? Because we chose to position ourselves as the standard-bearers of an ethical high ground. And we have the tools and teachings to do so.

Much of what is being taught as Buddhism in America is the acceptance of a kinder, gentler suffering that does not question the unwholesome roots of systemic suffering and the structures that hold it in place. The expansive potential of the dharma to liberate us from suffering is in danger of being rendered impotent because it is held in subjugation to the very systems that it must thoroughly examine.

Thrust into the Western socioeconomic framework that puts profit above all, and coupled with a desire to perpetuate institutional existence at the expense of illuminating reality and revealing deeper truths, the dharma has become beholden to commodification, viewing it as inescapable and de rigueur.

The dharma’s authenticity and integrity are thus compromised.

What is required is a new dharma, a radical dharma that deconstructs rather than amplifies the systems of suffering, that starves rather than fertilizes the soil that deep roots of societal suffering grows in. A new dharma is one that not only insists we investigate the unsatisfactoriness of our own minds but also prepares us for the discomfort of confronting the obscurations of the society we are individual expressions of. It recognizes that the delusions of systemic oppression are not solely the domain of the individual. By design, they are seated within and reinforced by society.

Whose Liberation?

The attention of our nation has rightfully turned to the policing of black and brown bodies. From above, it looks like just black and brown folks are being policed and while you may feel bad, you are free.

But here is the truth: policing is expressing itself through the state. The police force is the institution carrying out a specific mandate—a mandate that expresses a survival need of the social construct that we inhabit.

That mandate is to control black bodies.
The need is to have the constant specter of the other.
When the other exists, it strengthens your need to belong.
Your belonging is necessary for compliance.
Your compliance maintains the system.
You are policed, too.
You are policed by your need for belonging.
Your need for belonging requires control of the other.
Or at least the illusion of it.
You are policed through the control of my body.
You are policed, too.

Once you are aware of how you are being policed, you can begin the process of self-liberating—this time from a place that recognizes the mutuality of our liberation rather than suffering under the delusion that you are doing something for me. There’s an intimacy in that realization. And because dharma is ultimately about accepting what is, it can undermine the need for control that keeps you invested in the policing of my body—thus freeing yours.

The Social Ego

To lean into this aspiration, you must confront the fact that “whiteness” is a social ego as void of inherent identity as the personal ego. However, you have identified with it as much as your very own name, without being willing to name it.

Just as the ego-mind is a construct that constantly reinforces itself, so, too, does the construct of whiteness. It builds structures and systems of control and develops attitudes and views that maintain its primacy and sense of solidity so that whiteness can substantiate its validity. One could call it the Mind of Whiteness.

The construct has been designed so that White America—and by extension white dharma teachers and practitioners—lives inside the prison of that small mind. Without intentional intervention, you cannot see over the wall of the reinforcing perspectives that affirm and perpetuate the White Superiority Complex. The complex would disintegrate if the vastness of your own racial bias were illuminated, but until such time you remain in ignorance, blind to the reality before you. This blindness is necessary to escape the sheer anguish of how pervasive this complex is, how you unerringly participate in it, and how seemingly inescapable it has become.

Just as the ego-mind cannot be used to work its way out of its own construct, the Mind of Whiteness cannot be used to see through the veil of its own construct. As Buddhists, we are gifted with precisely the tools and methodologies needed for the project of deconstructing, but that lens of awareness must be placed outside of the construct of whiteness. As a direct result of privilege, white practitioners and teachers have mistakenly entitled themselves to place the lens of awareness inside of whiteness, hence they are unable to see its machinations. Only when we choose to live the dharma in a radical way—with a motivation toward complete liberation—can our work begin.

So we sit. And we feel. And we let what arises do so until the resistance is worn down or moved through or even until it overwhelms us. On the other side, we see a glimmer of something that we couldn’t get a handle on because we were trying so desperately to avoid it. We begin to see truth. When we catch hold of it, we can finally see the patterns of our participation in not-truth emerge. With the clarity of a steady mind and courage of a true heart, what has always been there begins to reveal itself, emerging from behind the fog of the ego-mind of whiteness.

White dharma practitioners who are unable to acknowledge the pain caused by decades of resistance to addressing this misalignment will be exposed—they will no longer be able to use a veneer of dharma as window dressing while milking the benefits of the system. Their veil of mindfulness will be seen through as thin, and their once-wise words, henceforth, will land with a thud.

No one group, community, or institution has the answer, but each of us can call forth the willingness to offer our best, claim responsibility for our worst, and fold it all into the continuous moment-to-moment practice of simply being present to what is. If your practice is not attenuating greed, hatred, and ignorance—the social expressions of which are the delusions of supremacy, racism, and oppression—then you need to change your practice.

Adapted from Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation by angel Kyodo williams, Lama Rod Owens, and Jasmine Syedullah, forthcoming June 2016 from North Atlantic Books.

Make the jump here to read to full article and more

Via Daily Dharma: Not Yours to Keep

When sickness and death touch your life—as they inevitably will—they’re an electrical shock waking you up to the fact that you don’t get to keep this body forever.

—Rachel Meyer, “Go to Your High School Reunion, Dammit

Friday, November 10, 2017

Via Daily Dharma: The Safety of Emptiness

Fears spring from shifting conditions, those fabrications that you’ve been trying to grasp and hold together. The remaining emptiness—so replete and lovely—is safe.

—Ayya Tathaaloka, “The Whole of Spiritual Life

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Via Tricycle: The Power of the Third Moment

The look you gave the driver who cut you off. The email you shouldn’t have sent. There’s an effective way to avoid acting on your worst emotions.

By Trungram Gyalwa Rinpoche

The Power of the Third Moment
Photograph by Seth Miranda

Another driver cuts you off, and you feel a surge of rage. A coworker gets the promotion you think you deserve, and waves of jealousy wash over you. The pastry display in the grocery store beckons, and you sense your willpower dissolving. Anger. Impatience. Shock. Desire. Frustration. You spend your days bombarded by emotions.

These emotions are often negative—and if you act on them, they can derail you. You know: That email you shouldn’t have sent. The snappy retort you shouldn’t have verbalized. The black funk that permeates every experience and keeps you from feeling joy. 

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. You can learn to recognize harmful emotions in the moment—and let them go.

Choosing the karma you create

Past karma shapes your experience of the world. It exists; there is not much you can do about it. Yet you are also constantly creating new karma, and that gives you a golden opportunity. With your reaction to each experience, you create the karma that will color your future. It is up to you whether this new karma is positive or negative. You simply have to pay attention at the right moment. 

Think of how karma operates as if it were a key ring. It seems solid; you can move your key seamlessly around the circle. Yet there is actually a start and an end to the key ring—and a gap. If you know the gap is there, and you have the skill, you can extricate your key from the ring. Similarly, earlier karma creates your experience of events. Your reaction, based on your experience, triggers new karma and a new cycle of creation and experience. 

You can allow that cycle to continue in an endless sequence. Or you can find the gap, gain the skill, and extricate yourself from the cycle, simultaneously building your compassion and enhancing your sense of inner ease.

The Buddhist tradition is rife with teachings: on compassion, on why we should avoid hatred and jealousy, and on the power of a positive outlook. These teachings are extraordinarily valuable. They clarify and deepen our understanding—and they inspire us.

But teachings and their explanations require logic to parse. In the heat of an emotional exchange, you may not have the luxury of logic, because logic requires time and an unbiased mind. Pressure creates a crisis. You don’t have time to think, only to react. So you need a well-honed, quickly deployed skill, something that is short, easy to use, and effective. This is the Third Moment Method, a practical tool that in many ways embodies the core of Buddhist practice.

Understanding the three moments

Life is composed of a series of experiences, and each of these experiences can be broken into three moments.

The First Moment

In the first moment, your sensory organs—your eyes, ears, nose—perceive some sort of input. This moment between, for instance, a sound reaching your ear and your ear perceiving it, is instantaneous. It is also effortless, because it is hardwired into your system. In this moment, if someone says “lemon,” you have heard the sound, but you haven’t yet recognized what that sound means.

The Second Moment

In the second moment, you recognize the sound—or other sensation—and you have an instant, subconscious reaction, classifying it as good, bad, or neutral. This, too, is automatic, based on prior experience: memories and understanding stemming from your ingrained cultural beliefs, religious beliefs, and linguistic perceptions. It happens so quickly that you may even think it is part of the first moment. You have a physical manifestation of your thought as your body responds to positive, negative, or neutral input—although a “neutral” reaction usually leans slightly toward positive or negative.

Maybe someone is describing a juicy lemon they’ve just sliced. You connect the sound “lemon” to an idea stored in your memory. It evokes a shape, a color, a scent, a taste. Your memory invites an emotional reaction. You love lemons and your mouth salivates; you find lemons sour and you cringe.

The Third Moment

In the third moment, you have the choice of accepting your memory’s emotion- tinged invitation or not.

Your reaction may be mental, verbal, or physical. If you have classified some- thing as good, you are drawn to it, even though it may not be beneficial. If you have classified something as bad, you push it away, sometimes with more force than is appropriate or necessary. In either case, you may do a lot of damage that you will later need to try to undo.

Let’s think of “lemon” in a different context. What if your mechanic says that your brand-new car is a lemon? How would you feel? Furious? Foolish? Frustrated? What might you say to the person who advised you to buy it? The third moment provides you with the space to determine your response.

By widening the gap between action and reaction, you can gain some distance from your automatic responses and also gain an opportunity to know your emotions.

You have a choice about the kind of life you lead. You can let your environment dictate your experience, in which case, unless you solve all the problems of every person with whom you interact, you will always face some unhappiness. Or you can take control over your own experience of life. To me, this seems like a better path.

Practicing the Third Moment Method

The Third Moment Method helps you take this path. In it, you use the Third Moment not to react but to watch—in a very specific way.

At the very instant an emotion arises, pause. Notice the emotion you are experiencing. The timing is very important. You need to be focused and aware before your emotion connects with a thought and becomes solidified. You want to simply see the emotion for what it is.

You may be tempted to trace the source of your emotion; that is logical, but in this instance it is not helpful. Instead of focusing on who did what to whom, simply look into your emotion. Don’t do this as an observer, with duality between yourself and the emotion, as though it were external to you. 

Instead, watch your actual experience; try to feel it directly. Feel your emotion as if it were an inflated balloon, filling your insides. Don’t pay attention to the balloon itself; pay attention to what’s inside it. What does it feel like? No rationalizing. No reasoning. 

What is at the very core of the balloon? Just space. This is not relabeling your emotion as space. It is simply awareness that the emotion itself does not exist in the way we believe it does, as something fixed and solid. Over time, as that awareness grows, you will begin to feel ease, and maybe even joy.

By widening the gap between action and reaction, you can gain some distance from your automatic responses and also gain an opportunity to know your emotions. You can stop being ruled by these emotions and instead begin to rule your experience of life.

To really enjoy this freedom, though, you need to practice. If you can practice the Third Moment Method frequently and deeply enough, you can experience the unconditional joy that breeds lovingkindness and compassion.

Of course, in the heat of the moment, it can be difficult to remember a practice that is not yet ingrained. You can try practice drills—mentally creating scenarios that evoke strong emotions, then using the Third Moment Method to diffuse them. This will begin to create a mental muscle memory. However, in your mind you still know the experience isn’t real, so in many ways the effect is not real either. The best practice is real life.

Benefiting from the results

Remember: The Third Moment passes very quickly, and it is easy to miss. You find it in the instant between seeing a nasty email and ring off a reply, hearing a criticism and retorting, seeing a gooey dessert and reaching for it. This is the time to stop and practice the Third Moment Method.

If you truly experience this once—if you really catch the moment—you will find that the Third Moment Method is not only easy but also something you will want to do often. So try to be conscious of your emotions, and seize every opportunity to practice.

If you do this, you will find that your mind is cooler, clearer, and less biased. You are more connected to the present moment. You are aware that your emotions are not reality. That, in turn, affects how you interpret your experiences. You may also find not only that you interact with the world more easily but also that your relationships are better—starting with your relationship with yourself.

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Via Daily Dharma: You Contain Multitudes

When we meditate... we begin to discover the fallacy in reducing our identity to any one of the conditions that forms us.

—Martine Batchelor, “The Woman in the Photograph

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Via Lions Roar / I Can’t Believe It’s Not Buddha!

They’re everywhere you look. In Facebook memes, quotes sites, blog articles, and even in published books, Hallmark-style Fake Buddha Quotes (FBQ) abound.

I first started to document these a few years ago after spotting some obvious fakes on Twitter. As they accumulated, I began detailing how to tell when quotes are fake, identifying their origins when I could, and offering some genuine scriptural quotations to show what (as best we know) the Buddha really taught. Fake quotes became teachable moments.

The most common FBQ giveaway, usually, is the style, which may be too flowery, poetic, or literary. Sometimes it’s the vocabulary, which sounds too contemporary for someone who lived some 2,600 years ago.

How do Fake Buddha Quotes arise? There are simple errors of attribution, where someone else’s words have somehow been ascribed to the Buddha. Then there are the “lost in translation” quotes where someone has creatively rendered the Buddha’s words into a “new, improved” version that may express their own view of spirituality but are so far from the original meaning that they’re essentially fake. And sometimes people just make up a spiritual-sounding quote and stick “—the Buddha” on the end. But it can be hard to tell; I’ve been convinced a quote is genuine only to discover that it’s not.
If you can’t find a quote in the scriptures we should regard it as fake.
Is there such a thing as a genuine Buddha quote? We can never know! The Buddha didn’t write anything down. The best record we have of what the historical Buddha said is found in the scriptures of Nikaya Buddhism, including, but not limited to, the Pali canon. But these teachings were passed down orally for hundreds of years before being committed to writing, and in the process they were simplified, edited, and made easier to memorize by being made repetitious. There’s no guarantee that anything in the scriptures is exactly what the Buddha said. But it’s the best we have to go on.

However, we don’t have to be certain about what the Buddha did say in order to know what he didn’t say. My rule of thumb is this: if you can’t find a quote in the scriptures—any scriptures, including those of the Mahayana traditions—we should regard it as fake. If there’s no evidence of him having said something, then we shouldn’t claim he did.

People often tell me that the Buddha was “too spiritual” to be bothered about being misquoted. But the reality is that the scriptures are full of stories in which the Buddha sets some seeker straight about what he’s said, and where he condemns those who have misquoted him.

Via Ram Dass / Words of Wisdom - November 8, 2017

The melodrama of fanaticism is a form of spiritual materialism: you make spiritual life into something else to acquire, like a new car or television set. Just do your practices; don't make a big deal out of them.

The less you dramatize, the fewer obstacles you create. Romanticism on the spiritual path is just another attachment that will have to go sooner or later.

- Ram Dass -

Via Daily Dharma: Unswayed by Failure or Success

Anyone who enjoys inner peace is no more broken by failure than he is inflated by success.

—Mattieu Ricard, “A Way of Being

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Via Daily Dharma: Your Spiritual Practice Influences the Social World

As our dharma practice deepens, it begins to inform and influence everything we do, including how we engage with the important moral and social issues of our times.

—Ven. Santusikka Bhikkhuni, “Dharma in Action

Monday, November 6, 2017

Via Tricycle: New at Tricycle: Why Buddhists Should Run for Public Office

November 6, 2017
Mixing Buddhism and Politics
The 2016 presidential election in the United States sent shockwaves across the world. As Americans prepare to head back to the polls on Tuesday, we have two reflections from Buddhists on the intersection of practice and government.

Suzanne Harvey, who is likely the only Buddhist in New Hampshire’s 400-member House of Representatives, is calling on engaged Buddhists to seriously consider running for a position on their local school board, city council, or higher governing office.

“When I enter the state house complex, my practice enters with me,” Harvey writes. “Federal, state, and local governments and municipal boards might function a lot differently if we had more Buddhists serving in positions.”

Dick Allen, a Republican Zen Buddhist practitioner and the former poet laureate of Connecticut, offers an Election Day reminder that moderation is a “sorely needed political position” that will help things get done in these highly divided times.

And, just in time for cooler temperatures and shorter days is our Winter 2017 issue. Inside, you’ll meet a former nun and latex enthusiast, learn about a new vision for globalism, get instructions on cutting off negative emotions at the pass using the third moment method, and more.

Via Daily Dharma: Are You Awake?

We lose something very vital in our life when it’s more important to us to be one who knows than it is to be awake to what’s happening.

—Zenkei Blanche Hartman, “The Zen of Not Knowing

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Via Ram Dass / Words of Wisdom - November 5, 2017

We can't be afraid of making errors. We may choose the wrong teacher; we may get into a method that's no good. Many things can happen. We make errors; we correct them if we can, without hurting another being's spiritual opportunities.

There is another rule for this game: we may never use one soul for another. If our journey to God is keeping another being from going to God, forget it. We're never going to get there. It's as simple as that.

-  Ram Dass -

Via Daily Dharma: Human Intelligence Is a Gift; Use It Wisely

So long as we remember that we have this marvelous gift of human intelligence and a capacity to develop determination and use it in positive ways, we will preserve our underlying mental health.

—The Dalai Lama, “Countering Stress and Depression

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Via Tricycle / Why Trees Are The Ultimate Meditation Teachers

In Buddhism, trees have long been recognized as living things worthy of recognition and protection.

"A meditation teacher once advised me to look to the example trees set as steady, observant beings. “They are excellent meditators,” she said. “They sit in one spot for decades, watching all that goes by.” In his book The Island Within, anthropologist Richard Nelson described trees in a similar manner. “The dark boughs reach out above me and encircle me like arms. I feel the assurance of being recognized, as if something powerful and protective is aware of my presence . . .  I am never alone in this forest of elders, this forest of eyes.”

Via Daily Dharma: You Are Not Alone

The absence of self—this emptiness—is not a thing that we can feel. It is, rather, more of a vehicle to help us understand our intrinsic connectedness with all things. This teaching can remind us that even though we may feel alone or isolated at times, we are not.

—Lauren Krauze, “Why Trees Are the Ultimate Meditation Teachers

Thursday, November 2, 2017

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Via Daily Dharma: Lovingkindness Starts Close to Home

Although we are aiming at an all-inclusive lovingkindness unrestricted by the partiality that divides the world into “mine” and “yours,” it needs to start with simple, uncontrived loving feelings toward those closest to us.

—Lama Jampa Thaye, “Bringing It All Back Home

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Via Ram Dass / Words of Wisdom - November 1, 2017

We can take our lives exactly as they are in this moment; it is a fallacy to think that we're necessarily going to get closer to God by changing the form of our lives, by leaving so-and-so, or changing our jobs, or moving, or giving up our stereos, or cutting off our hair, or growing our hair, or shaving our beards, or...

It isn't the form of the game; it's the nature of the being that fulfills the form. If I'm a lawyer, I can continue being a lawyer. I merely use being a lawyer as a way of coming to God. 

- Ram Dass -

Via Daily Dharma: What Is Boundless Compassion?

Boundless compassion, which is distinct from being overwhelmed by emotion, is the wish that everyone everywhere be free of pain and its causes.

—Anne C. Klein, “The Four Immeasurables