Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Via Ram Dass / Words of Wisdom - January 31, 2018

We’ve lived our lives with negative images of ourselves, from childhood on, and we’ve built upon those images, and built upon them, and they became very heavy weights. These thoughts about us are a part of our ego, and they’re manifested through our roles of child or husband, wife, breadwinner, all of those roles. They’re built upon the thoughts of, “I’m not truthful” or “I’m not likable”, “I’m not good” – all of those negative images.

Once you identify with your soul you start to taste the love in your true self, in your spiritual heart and it’s different than all of the loves you’ve ever had. It’s just different; it’s unconditional love. 

- Ram Dass - 

Via Daily Dharma: Having Faith in Enlightenment

Awakening the enlightened mind may not be a question of self-improvement, which is never-ending; it may be a question of faith, which is always available right now.

—Hannah Tennant-Moore, “Buddhism’s Higher Power

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Via Daily Dharma: Envisioning a Pure Realm

Those unfamiliar with the idea of pure realms can simply imagine a beautiful, blissful place where every last being is perfectly contented, where terms such as pain, suffering, and misery are unheard of, and where the minds of all who abide there are wholly infused with goodness.

—Sherab Rinpoche, “The Form of Compassion

Monday, January 29, 2018

Via Daily Dharma: What All Religions Offer

When we make the effort to understand what may seem strange in the religious practices of others, we may find that it opens the door to something beyond the particular case, something quite general: the capacity of humans to participate in divinity.

—Robert Bellah, “The R Word

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Via Ram Dass / Words of Wisdom - January 28, 2018

If we are to help heal the world, we need to remember that it is a sacred place. Our actions need to be positive statements, reminders that even in the worst times there is a world worth struggling for. We need to find ways to keep the vision alive, to acknowledge but not get caught in the dark side, to remember that even the worst aspects of suffering are only part of the whole picture. We need to enter lightly.

- Ram Dass -

Via Daily Dharma: The Opportunity of Disagreement

If we had no disagreements with the world, we would have little reason to grow and less opportunity to become more compassionate, wakeful human beings.

—Diane Musho Hamilton, “Transforming Conflict

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Via FB / Ian McKellen

I’ve never met a gay person who regretted coming out – including myself. Life at last begins to make sense, when you are open and honest. Today is the 30th anniversary of the BBC radio discussion when I publically said I was gay. So I’m celebrating!

- Ian McKellen

Via Daily Dharma: Wisdom Doesn’t Discriminate

We are the recipients of this immeasurable wisdom and compassion of life that sustains us and embraces us at all times, regardless of the kind of people we are.

—Patricia Kanaya Usuki, “The Great Compassion

Via Lion's Roar / How to Read and Study Buddhist Teachings

There is such a wealth of Buddhist books and teachings to consume. Where do you start? Here are some tips on how to tackle your reading list. 

Photo by Eugenio Mazzone.

A lot of people think Buddhism is all about sitting in silence and finding inner wisdom. When you start practicing Buddhism, it’s easy to carry that stereotype onto your spiritual path. But any teacher will tell you: At some point on the path, it’s important to balance your practice with cold, hard study.

The Buddha stressed the importance of studying — and even memorizing — Buddhist teachings. Practically speaking, in the modern world there is a wealth of misinformation about Buddhism. Fake Buddha quotes are as common as authentic ones. One of the core goals of Buddhist practice is the cultivation of wisdom, or prajna, which requires dedicated study along with meditation practice.

Here is a short guide to working with Buddhist teachings to develop prajna, along with further resources to go deeper with your study.

Choosing Something to Study

Sometimes, the first step is the hardest. There are countless Buddhist teachings, books, classical texts, commentaries, memoirs, and investigations. Where do you start?

If you have a teacher or a community, the obvious place to start is with the teachings they recommend. If you’re not sure, you might want to ask a teacher or an instructor for some suggestions. If you can’t get a recommendation, Zenkei Blanche Hartman suggests studying the teachings of contemporary teachers in your tradition.

If you don’t have a specific tradition to dive into, not to worry. Judy Lief suggests that you “notice what you are drawn to reading and reflecting upon.” See where those teachings come from. If you’re committed to a Buddhist path, ensure that the teachings come from an authentic, unbroken Buddhist lineage. Explore the essential texts of that tradition.

How Much Should You Study?

This is completely subjective. Some practitioners love to read Buddhist texts and neglect practice in favor of reading. Others refuse to read, instead opting to sit in silent contemplation indefinitely.

Study and practice are both important. For a simple rule of thumb, Geshe Tenzin Wangyal recommends:

Whatever meditation practice you commit to, your study should support that, so that in your practice you know what you are doing and you have a reference for your experiences. Your study guides your practice, and your practice validates your study.
Judy Lief advises, “study yourself.” Get a sense of where you are in your practice, what your challenges are, and how you feel about reading and meditating. 

Knowing that studying and practice support each other, try to find your own balance. Lief writes:

No matter how much you read, how many talks you hear, or how many websites you visit, there is no guarantee that there will be any real benefit. It is good to accumulate knowledge, but it is better to let that knowledge transform you. The benefit comes in the meeting point between you and the dharma, when a seemingly outer teaching strikes a deep inner chord.

How to Let Wisdom Penetrate

In general, teachers recommend that you take the time to let yourself absorb what you’re reading or listening to. This means different things to different people. 

You might read a chapter and then meditate on what you’ve read. You might read slowly and thoughtfully. 

Maybe you read one paragraph over a few times and then contemplate it for the rest of the day. Maybe you tape a favorite paragraph to the bathroom mirror and contemplate it regularly for years. “Each time you go over it,” writes Lief, “question what is really being said, its relevance, how it can be applied, and whether it rings true to your own experience and observation of the world.”

Are you the kind of person who wakes up and immediately checks Twitter, Instagram, and CNN? Bhante Gunaratana suggests replacing that morning routine, instead listening to a teaching of the Buddha, then keeping the wisdom with you throughout the day.

Going Deeper with the Three Prajnas

Some schools of Buddhism break the development of wisdom down into three steps, as described expertly by Reggie Ray. These are: the first prajna, hearing; the second prajna, contemplating, and the third prajna, meditating.

The first prajna, hearing, deals with literally studying texts. This might mean reading a text over repeatedly, memorizing, or studying the meaning of the text in depth. In the second prajna, contemplating, as Ray explains, you look at the teaching in the context of your own experience. How does it feel? The third prajna, meditation, follows the teaching into the unconditioned experience of meditating on ultimate truth.



Book Recommendations

Specific Traditions

A selection of commentaries on texts and studies from various traditions:

Friday, January 26, 2018

Via Daily Dharma: Act on Spontaneous Compassion

When a compassionate intention arises, don’t evaluate it. Trust it. Just do it.

—Colin Beavan, “Intuitive Action

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Via Daily Dharma: Whose Presence Do You Value?

Many of us have a mind that measures self-worth in terms of productivity...  We give ourselves no credit for just being present. And yet, if you asked the people you care about what they would like most from you, their answer is likely to be some version of “your presence.”

—Jan Chozen Bays, “The Gift of Waiting

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Via Ram Dass / Words of Wisdom - January 24, 2018

How stable are our lives? How stable is anybody’s life? What happens when stability is threatened is that people contract. If you’ve got an investment, and then it all starts to change, and you can’t quite stop it, so you contract, your heart closes, you go up into your mind, and when you get into your mind, you cause a lot of trouble.

The mind, in the service of fear, causes the quality of the thinking to become about things, so it sees everything as an object. All people become “them,” and “they” must be dealt with in order to protect yourself.

You and I are in training to find a place in ourselves, and in the way we live our lives, where we don’t freak out about changes to our dependent form of existence. A place where we don’t freak out in the presence of change or increasing chaos.

- Ram Dass -

Via Daily Dharma: Moving Past Your Old Stories

We need not be limited by our stories. We are much more mysterious than they are.

—Mark Epstein, “If the Buddha Were Called to Jury Duty

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Via Daily Dharma: The Ecology of Mind

Dhamma is the ecology of the mind. This is how nature has arranged things, and it has always been like this, in a most natural way. The mind with Dhamma is fresh, beautiful, quiet, and joyful.

—Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, “Conserving the Inner Ecology

Monday, January 22, 2018

Via Ram Dass / Words of Wisdom - January 21, 2018

Both Hindus and Buddhists say human birth is highly auspicious, because it has the elements for liberation. You have everything you need to work with in a human birth to become realized: consciousness or awareness, conceptual understanding, the emotional heart, joy and sorrow.

When Buddhists talk about the preciousness of a human birth, it’s the awareness associated with human birth that’s the opportunity. We become aware to bring ourselves to higher consciousness. Suffering is part of it too; it’s all grist for the mill of developing awareness. What’s here in front of you is what you can be aware of; it’s food for enlightenment. It’s your part in this passing show of life…

- Ram Dass -

Via Daily Dharma: Run the Way You Sit

We experience the gradual awakening to pure awareness that develops over the days, months, and years as we sit. When it comes to exercise, the principle is the same. We let the mind and body go on their own run, noting but not minding at all.

—Michael Hoffman, “Mind on the Run

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Via Daily Dharma: How to Find Harmony

Listening properly becomes a kind of harmonizing of parts of our being—our intellectual center, our emotional center, and our moving center.

—Philip Glass, “Listening to Philip Glass

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Via Daily Dharma: Sangha Is the Soil

If you don’t have anyone who understands you, who encourages you in the practice of the living dharma, your desire to practice may wither. Your sangha—family, friends, and copractitioners—is the soil, and you are the seed.

—Thich Nhat Hanh, “The Fertile Soil of Sangha

Friday, January 19, 2018

Via Daily Dharma: The Many Paths to Openness

Each of us has the possibility of finding a way to experience our lives free of struggle. And one of the common features of all these different ways is a sense of extraordinary openness.

—Ken McLeod, “The Way of Freedom

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Via Daily Dharma: Small Efforts, Big Changes

Positive transformation is usually incremental. Small efforts, if concrete, will pile up and bring about big personal, and even social, change.

—Shinso Ito, “Unconditional Service

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Via Ram Dass / Words of Wisdom - January 17, 2018

As you get more conscious, every act you perform increases the amount of consciousness in the universe, because the act itself conveys the consciousness. In other words, I could tell you the greatest truths of the world but if I don’t understand them inside myself, forget it - because I’m not giving you the key that allows you to use it, which is the “faith” in it, which I can only convey through my own success in whatever I’m doing.

- Ram Dass -

Via Lionsroar / Death: The Greatest Teacher

The Buddha said the greatest of all teachings is impermanence. Its final expression is death. Buddhist teacher Judy Lief explains why our awareness of death is the secret of life. It’s the ultimate twist.

Make the jump here to read the full article and more

Via Daily Dharma: The Art of Wakefulness

To me, that’s what art and poetry are: trying to be awake in a room of people who are committed to being awake, and who are being attentive without necessarily acting.

—Marie Howe, “The Space Between

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Via Daily Dharma: Practice with Gentle Persistence

Refinement of attention is only achieved through a gentle and persistent letting go; it is never attained by the brute force of sheer willpower.

—Ajahn Brahm, “Stepping Towards Enlightenment

Monday, January 15, 2018

Via Tricycle / Having Real Conversations (Even with My Sister)

When a gay Buddhist woman is asked by her sister why same-sex marriage is such an important issue, she is shocked into silence. Years later, she realizes that the only way we might communicate what we most care about is to have tolerance for another’s ignorance or confusion.

Via Ram Dass / 9 of 20 Words of Wisdom - January 14, 2018

You are loved just for being who you are, just for existing. You don’t have to do anything to earn it. Your shortcomings, your lack of self-esteem, physical perfection, or social and economic success— none of that matters. No one can take this love away from you, and it will always be here.

Imagine that being in this love is like relaxing endlessly into a warm bath that surrounds and supports your every movement, so that every thought and feeling is permeated by it. You feel as though you are dissolving into love. This love is actually part of you; it is always flowing through you. It’s like the subatomic texture of the universe, the dark matter that connects everything.

When you tune in to that flow, you will feel it in your own heart—not your physical heart or your emotional heart, but your spiritual heart, the place you point to in your chest when you say, “I am.”

- Ram Dass -

Via Daily Dharma: Interdependence and Civil Rights

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was trying to deliver the same message as Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s teaching of interbeing. He wanted us to understand interrelatedness.

—Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, “Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Via Daily Dharma: A Marriage of Doing and Being

Meditation, simply defined, is a way of being aware. It is the happy marriage of doing and being.

—Lama Surya Das, “The Heart-Essence of Buddhist Meditation

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Via 1 of 3,073 Daily Dharma: Desire Isn’t Always Bad

Passions and desires, like words and concepts, are not negative in and of themselves. It is only when we become obsessed by our ideas about what we think we are or should be that we become blind to the reality before us.

—Mark Unno, “The Original Buddhist Rebel

Friday, January 12, 2018

Via Daily Dharma: You Can’t Force Your Heart Open

A wide and caring heart is not a “should” or an obligation but a longing that awakens naturally.

—Radhule Weininger, “Brief Teachings

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Via 3 of 13 Daily Dharma: The Seed of True Kindness

When we start to develop maitri for ourselves—unconditional acceptance of ourselves—then we’re really taking care of ourselves in a way that pays off. We feel more at home with our own bodies and minds and more at home in the world. As our kindness for ourselves grows, so does our kindness for other people.

—Pema Chödrön, “Unlimited Friendliness

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Via BBC / Inter-American Human Rights Court backs same-sex marriage

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has ruled that same-sex marriages should be recognised.

The court's rulings apply to countries which have signed the American Convention on Human Rights.

Some of the signatories already recognise same-sex marriages while others recognise same-sex civil unions.

But others, such as Bolivia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Paraguay and Peru do not recognise either and will be expected to change their laws.

The court was established by the regional body, the Organization of American States (OAS), and signatories to the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights are bound by its rulings.

Western hemisphere countries where same-sex marriage is legal:

Image copyright Reuters
  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Colombia
  • Mexico (certain states only)
  • US
  • Uruguay

The ruling comes as a number of Latin American countries have changed or are debating changing their laws to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Most recently, outgoing Chilean President Michelle Bachelet sent a gay marriage bill to Congress for debate.

Other western hemisphere countries, such as Ecuador, have introduced same-sex civil unions.

'Without discrimination'

The judges said that governments "must recognise and guarantee all the rights that are derived from a family bond between people of the same sex".

They also said that it was inadmissible and discriminatory for a separate legal provision to be established just for same-sex marriages.

The judges demanded that governments "guarantee access to all existing forms of domestic legal systems, including the right to marriage, in order to ensure the protection of all the rights of families formed by same-sex couples without discrimination".

Recognising the difficulty in passing such laws in countries where there is strong opposition to same-sex marriage, they recommended that governments pass temporary decrees until new legislation was brought in.

The judges issued the ruling in response to a motion brought by Costa Rica.

The Central American government asked the court to give its opinion on whether it had an obligation to extend property rights to same-sex couples. The court ruled that it did.

The Costa Rican government also wanted to know whether it should allow transgender people to change their name on their identity documents. Again, the court ruled that it should.

Costa Rica's Vice-President Ana Helena Chacón welcomed the court's ruling, saying it would be adopted "in its totality".

Via Ram Dass / 4 of 21 Words of Wisdom - January 10, 2018

I don't want people doing their practices because they ought to be good. I want you doing your practices like you go to the toilet. You don't go to the toilet because you're good, I mean, you know why you go to the toilet. That's the way spiritual practices should be done. It's a great advertisement for spiritual practice: Come spend the weekend with spiritual practices, it's like going the toilet!

-  Ram Dass -

Via Daily Dharma: Zig Zag Practice

Practice is never a straight line to a fixed goal. It is always a mixture of moments of confusion and moments of clarity, periods of discouragement and periods of aspiration, times of feeling like a failure and times of going deeper.

—Ezra Bayda, “Reflect, Without Thinking

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Via Daily Dharma: Finding Freedom Through Attitude

The attempt to look at your attitude—what you are feeling and thinking and the frame that holds it, and then your attitude to your attitude, is one of the routes to freedom.

—John Tarrant, “In the Wild Places

Monday, January 8, 2018

Via Daily Dharma: Honesty’s Advantage

Being honest about our limitations protects us from becoming patronizing and self-satisfied. When we are more honest, we don’t have as much to prove.

—Judy Lief, “On Beginning at the Beginning

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Via FB

Via Ram Dass / Words of Wisdom - January 7, 2018

The reason we are addicted to power is because of separateness—separate nations, separate states, separate religions, and separate people. When you are separate the whole universe is powerful, and you are so little…When you get into your soul, the whole world is made of love—trees are made of love; beings, in their souls, are made of love.

- Ram Dass -

Via Daily Dharma: Sorting Out Love and Attachment

Attachment is the very opposite of love. Love says, “I want you to be happy.” Attachment says, “I want you to make me happy.”

—Tenzin Palmo, “No Excuses

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Via Daily Dharma: The Compassion We Give, The Compassion We Want

To be compassionate to those we do not have to be compassionate towards, and to those who expect little if any compassion—is this not the same contract we hope exists between us and some further, more powerful force?

—Rick Bass, “Animal Realm

Friday, January 5, 2018

Via Daily Dharma: Jealousy Is a Warning

When I start feeling jealous of others, it’s a warning sign that I’ve become a little bit too entranced by some idea of myself and have lost touch with the reality of my life.

—Shozan Jack Haubner, “Middle Way Manager

Via Daily Dharma: Letting Go of Perfection

A good fit is not the same as a perfect fit, if such a thing even exists. Rather, a good fit contains good imperfections, things that don’t fit, problems you can sink your teeth into.

—Andrew Cooper, “The Good Fit

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Via Daily Dharma: Right Action through Community

Connection with others loosens the bonds of self-concern and helps us find our best course of action in the world.

—Henry Shukman, “The Meeting

Via Ram Dass / 7 of 25 Words of Wisdom - January 3, 2018

  You can get to the place of being loving awareness, but before you can love the universe or other people you have to be able to love yourself. That love throws you into the next plane, which I call the soul plane. It is spiritual, but it also deals with separation, because the soul wants to meld with the One. The One is love, light; the One is peace, compassion. The soul wants to meld with that.

-  Ram Dass -

Via Daily Dharma: Joyful Reflection

The process of setting intentions and joyfully reflecting on them is how, over time, we transform extrinsic into intrinsic motivations, and thereby sustain the energy and purpose to live true to our best aspirations.

—Thupten Jinpa, “Two Exercises for Turning Intention into Motivation