"When understood, the Buddha’s universe..is anything but alien and inhibiting. It is a world full of hope, where everything we need to do can be done and everything that matters is within human reach. It is a world where kindness, unselfishness, non-violence, and compassion achieve what self-interest and arrogance cannot. It is a world where any human can be happy in goodness and the fullness of giving." ❦ Eknath Easwara

October 30, 2011

Meditation: How to Deal with the Tight Mental Fist of Aversion

"[When pain arises in meditation] you’ll notice that there is a tight mental fist wrapped around that sensation. That tight mental fist is aversion. “I don’t like it, I don’t want it to be there.”

Now the truth is, when a sensation arises, it’s there. That’s the truth. Any time you try to fight with the truth, any time you try to control the truth, any time you try to make the truth anything other than it is, you’re fighting with the dhamma. And it causes a lot of pain and suffering. It takes a normal pain, and it turns it into an emergency. And then you can’t stand it, and then you have to move around, you can’t—“argh this is too painful!”

So what you do next is notice that tight mental fist, and you have to realize the truth, that that pain is there, and you’re tightening around it. So you allow the space for that pain to be. You’re not trying to control it, you’re not trying to make it anything other than it is. All you’re doing is taking that craving, that dislike of that feeling, and you’re letting it go. You relax... you gently smile, come back to your object of meditation, stay with your object of meditation as long as you can.

The thing with pain is that it’s not going to go away right away, whether you like that idea or not. And it’s going to come back, and your mind is going to do the same thing again. It’s going to think about “Why doesn’t it just stop? Why doesn’t it go away?” Or, if it’s an itch, “Why don’t I just scratch it?”

But the whole point of the meditation is to learn how mind’s attention works, not how to control anything. Loving-kindness is loving acceptance of the present moment. That means allowing the present moment to be, even though it’s extremely painful. Allow that feeling to be, relax the tension and tightness wrapped around it, smile. “But it hurts!” I don’t care! Smile. Come back to your object of meditation.

Now one of two things will happen: Either the pain will go away, or it won’t. So, if it doesn’t go away, what happens with your mind is that it starts to gain equanimity. And before long, that sensation can be there and it doesn’t’ even pull your attention it. And you don’t pay attention to it anymore. Most often, it does go away eventually. It depends on your attachment to it.

But trying to think our pain and control our pain, our frustrations, our anger, our dissatisfactions whenever they arise, trying to control those with your thoughts, or trying to ignore the fact that it’s there, is the cause of more and more suffering. So we really have to learn to let go of our thinking about the pain and allow the space for that pain to be there without tightening around it."

Bhante Vimalaramsi
from Commentary on the Anupada Sutta

For more skillful teachings by Bhante Vimalaramsi, be sure to visit:
Enhanced by Zemanta

October 27, 2011

Thomas Merton - In Humility is the Greatest Freedom

"In humility is the greatest freedom. As long as you have to defend an imaginary self that you think is important, you lose your peace of heart. As soon as you compare that shadow with the shadows of other people, you lose all joy, because you have begun to trade in unrealities, and there is no joy in things that do not exist."

Thomas Merton
For more in-depth dharma articles and instruction, visit:  METTA REFUGE

Enhanced by Zemanta

How Fear of Death and Fear of Life Relate to Each Other

"Our fear of death is directly equatable to our fear of life.  When we think of dying we think of losing something we call 'me." We wish to protect this thing at all costs, though we have very little direct experience of what this 'I' refers to other than as some idea that seems constantly to be changing.

In death, we fear we will lose our 'I,' or 'me-ness.'  And we notice that the stronger this idea of 'I,' the more distinct is the feeling of a separation from life and a fear of death. The more we attempt to protect this idea of 'I,' the less we experience anything beyond that concept.

The more we have invested in protecting something of 'me,' the more we have to lose and the less we open to a deeper perception of what dies, of what really exists.  The more we hide or posture or postpone life, the more we fear death.

Protecting this precious 'I,' we push life away, and wonder at its meaninglessness.

Until we have nothing to hide, we cannot be free. If we are still considering the contents of the mind as the enemy, we become frightened, think we have something especially wrong with us.  Not recognizing the mind as just the result of previous conditioning, nothing special.  That all these states of mind which we fear so much can actually be mulched back into ourselves to become fertilizer, the manure of future growth.   Which means that in order to allow these materials to compost, to become rich fertilizer for growth, we must begin to make room in our hearts for ourselves.

We must begin to cultivate the compassion that allows the moment to be as it is, in the clear light of awareness, without the least postponement of truth."

Stephen Levine in "Getting Born"
from Who Dies?  An Investigation of Conscious Living and Conscious Dying"

For more in-depth dharma articles and instruction, visit:  METTA REFUGE

October 24, 2011

An Enlightenment Koan — Maybe You're There Already

There once were two monks who lived in a woods.  One was committed to sitting under a particular tree forever until he achieved enlightenment.  He sat there under the tree eating only the bugs and spiders and lizards that happened to wander close enough.  He drank only the water that fell when it rained.  There were cob-webs hanging off of him and he was dirty and smelly and not a pleasant, aesthetic experience.

There was a second monk who lived in that same woods, who traveled around the woods and had a lot of fun, who occasionally went into town and got himself in a little bit of difficulty now and then—he did have a weakness for the rice wine.

As chance would have it, a messenger of Brahma happened to be passing through.  Now the tradition was that, if you recognized the messenger of Brahma, you got to ask the messenger a question.  The old man under the tree recognized the messenger, and he said, “Hah there.  I see you, messenger of Brahma.  I claim the answer to my question.”

The messenger said, “Oh, all right.  What's your question?”

“How many more life-times must I sit under this tree, meditating, before I experience enlightenment?”

“Well,” said the messenger, “I'll go ask Brahma and come back when I'm next this way and give you the answer.”

Overhearing this, the second monk said, “Hey, I'd kind of like the answer to that, too.  That'd be interesting to know.”

Years passed.  As chance would have it, the messenger again came back through and the old man recognized him.  The old man said, “Hah, I recognize you, messenger.  Have you brought my answer from Brahma.”

The messenger says, “Yes, Brahma says you've got four more lifetimes before you finally achieve enlightenment.”  The old man under the tree said, “Ah, dung.  Four more lifetimes of sitting under this damn tree, amongst the spiders and the lizards and the muck and the rain.  Yuck!  Phew!”

The second monk said, “How about me?”

The messenger said, “Brahma said you have ten thousand more lifetimes before you finally 'get it.'”

The monk said, “Ten thousand more lifetimes?  Incredible!  Ten thousand more lifetimes enjoying this incredible world we live in?  Enjoying these woods, enjoying being alive!”

The messenger said, “No, no, you're there already.”

As related be Mike Young

For more in-depth dharma articles and instruction, visit:  METTA REFUGE

October 23, 2011

Zen - It's Not About Finally Getting all the Cookies!

"Most people who come to the Zen Center don't think a Cadillac will do it, but they think that enlightenment will.  Now they've got a new cookie, a new "if only."  "If only I could understand what realization is all about, I would be happy."  "If only I could have at least a little enlightenment experience, I would be happy."

Coming into a practice like Zen, we bring our usual notions that we are going to get somewhere--become enlightened—and get all the cookies that have eluded us in the past.

Our whole life consists of this little subject looking outside itself for an object.  But if you take something that is limited, like body and mind, and look for something outside it, that something becomes an object and must be limited too.  So you have something limited looking for something limited and you just end up with more of the same folly that has made you miserable."

Charlotte Joko Beck

For more in-depth dharma articles and instruction, visit:  METTA REFUGE

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Metaphysical Views the Buddha Did not Hold

As he was sitting there [Vacchagotta]  asked the Blessed One: “How is it, Master Gotama, does Master Gotama hold the view: ‘The cosmos is eternal: only this is true, anything otherwise is worthless’?”

“Then does Master Gotama hold the view: ‘The cosmos is not eternal: only this is true, anything otherwise is worthless’?”

“Then does Master Gotama hold the view: ‘The cosmos is finite: only this is true, anything otherwise is worthless’?”

“Then does Master Gotama hold the view: ‘The cosmos is infinite: only this is true, anything otherwise is worthless’?”

“Then does Master Gotama hold the view. . .

To see the rest of the questions and answers, go here!


Look at "no-self or "not-self" in terms of the Four Noble Truths

“To avoid the suffering implicit in questions of "self" and "other," [the Buddha] offered an alternative way of dividing up experience: the four Noble Truths of stress, its cause, its cessation, and the path to its cessation.

Rather than viewing these truths as pertaining to self or other, he said, one should recognize them simply for what they are, in and of themselves, as they are directly experienced, and then perform the duty appropriate to each.

Stress should be comprehended, its cause abandoned, its cessation realized, and the path to its cessation developed.”

Thanissaro Bhikkhu
from “No-self or Not-self?”

For more in-depth dharma articles and instruction, visit:  METTA REFUGE
Enhanced by Zemanta

October 21, 2011

Peace is Not Something You Can Force

"Peace is not something you can force
on anything or anyone –
much less upon one's own mind.
It is like trying to quiet the ocean
by pressing upon the waves.
Sanity lies in somehow opening to the chaos,
allowing anxiety, moving deeply into the tumult,
diving deeply in the waves, where underneath,
within, peace simply is." ~ Gerald May

For more in-depth dharma articles and instruction, visit:  METTA REFUGE
Enhanced by Zemanta

The Truth of Silent Illumination

Silently and serenely one forgets all words;
Clearly and vividly That appears...
When one realizes it, it is vast and without limit;
It is Essence, it is pure awareness.
Singularly reflecting in this bright awareness,
Full of wonder in this pure reflection...
Infinite wonder permeates this serenity;
In this Illumination all intentional efforts vanish.
Silence is the final word.
Reflection is the response to all [manifestation].
Devoid of any effort,
This response is natural and spontaneous...
The Truth of silent illumination
Is perfect and complete.

Chan Master Hung Chih
For more in-depth dharma articles and instruction, visit:  METTA REFUGE
Enhanced by Zemanta

About practice and theory in Ch'an (Zen)

About practice and theory in Ch'an (Zen)

"Phenomena ever change; the underlying principle, being absolute, neither changes nor acts; it is the Bhutatathata (sanskrit, "suchness of existence")

When we see a flag streaming in the wind, we know that, in theory, only the mind moves and not the wind or the flag. In practice, we cannot deny that the wind blows and the flag moves. We know also that in theory mind, wind and flag are but one undivided whole.

Now, how can we have an experiential realization of this sameness? If we fail to experience it, we will also fail in our self-cultivation. This is the most important phase of the meditation, which can be achieved only if we put an end to our feelings and discrimination."

Ch'an Master Hsu Yun
For more in-depth dharma articles and instruction, visit:  METTA REFUGE

October 12, 2011

Rabindranath Tagore - The Stream of Life

Stream Of Life

The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day 
runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures. 

It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth 
in numberless blades of grass 
and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers. 

It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth 
and of death, in ebb and in flow. 

I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life. 

And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment. 

Rabindranath Tagore
For more in-depth dharma articles and instruction, visit:  METTA REFUGE

October 11, 2011

Krishnamurti on Meditation as Freedom from the Known

"...So we ought to enquire into what is meditation - to meditate. It's really important, because a mind that's merely mechanistic, as thought is, can never come upon that which is totally, supreme order, and therefore a complete freedom. Like the universe is in total order: it's only the human mind that is in disorder. And so one has to have an extraordinarily orderly mind, a mind that has understood disorder - we went into that the other day - and is free completely from disorder, which is contradiction, imitation, conformity, and all the rest of it. Such a mind is an attentive mind, completely attentive to whatever it does, to all its actions, in its relationship, and so on and so on.

Attention is not concentration. Concentration is restricted, narrow, limited, whereas attention is limitless. And in that attention there is that quality of silence - not the silence invented by thought, not the silence that comes about after noise, not the silence of one thought waiting for another thought. There must be that silence which is not put together by desire, by will, by thought. And in that meditation there is no controller. And this is one of the factors in all the so-called meditative groups and the systems they have invented: there is always effort, control, discipline.

Discipline means to learn - not to conform - to learn so that your mind becomes more and more subtle, not based on knowledge, learning is a constant movement. So meditation is freedom from the known, which is the measure. And in that meditation, there is absolute silence. Then in that silence alone, that which is nameless is. . ."

J. Krishnamurti from "Is Anything Sacred?"
For more in-depth dharma articles and instruction, visit:  METTA REFUGE
Enhanced by Zemanta

October 6, 2011

The Problems of Thinking About Enlightenment

"The temptation when thinking about enlightenment is to come up with something defined that you can imagine, such as a state or quality of being, and then fixate on that ideal rather than doing the practices that lead to freedom.

It is absolutely guaranteed that anything you can imagine or define as being enlightenment is a limited and incorrect view, but these views are extremely tempting just the same and generally continue to be very seductive even through the middle stages of enlightenment. Every possible description of the potential effects of realization is likely to feed into this unfortunate tendency.

Thus, my distinct preference when practicing is to assume that enlightenment is completely impractical, produces no definable changes, and has nothing whatsoever to do with the scopes of the other trainings. This means that I take it as a working hypothesis that it will not make me a better person in any way, create any beneficial mental qualities, produce any states of happiness or peace, and provide no additional clarity into any of the issues surrounding how to live my ordinary life. I have experimented with adopting other views and found that they nearly always get in the way of my insight practices.

A view so easily becomes sacred, and thus the temptation is to not investigate the sensations that make up thoughts about that view, but rather to imitate the ideal expressed in the content of that view. This can seem like practice in fundamental insight, but it is not."

Daniel Ingram
Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha
For more in-depth dharma articles and instruction, visit:  METTA REFUGE
Enhanced by Zemanta

Thich Nhat Hanh - A Simple Teaching on Bringing Mindfulness to Whatever Arises

"There are some practitioners who want to bend and twist their breathing the way they think it ought to be. The Buddha said that is not the correct way. You only be aware of your breath and do not try to intervene. You don't need to do anything, just know. You just observe, you do not need to suppress, you do not need to force. You just be with your breath in awareness. When there is sunshine it just shines across the land and it doesn’t try to spread its rays everywhere or force the land to absorb its rays. The sun just shines.

We too practice in a very non-violent, very loving way with our breathing. When you are sitting with a bent back you just recognise your back is bent and quite naturally your body adjusts itself to become a little straighter. There is no forcing. If you are agitated but you are mindful of this feeling of agitation you simply recognise 'I have irritation.' You should not say 'Irritation is very bad, I have to get rid of my irritation.' No, you just be aware of your irritation.

The teaching of the Buddha is non-violent. If there is irritation you simply recognise you have irritation. You allow irritation to be there and embrace it as if it is a baby. You do not judge, you do not force, and you do not condemn them. You only look at your irritation with compassion. I go back to my body with non-violence, with care, with compassion. When the sunshine falls on the vegetation, the vegetation itself becomes green.

When your mindfulness is shinning upon what is happening in you then you do not need to force but you know right away and you smile with compassion to your irritation and then your irritation will disappear. You know that everything changes including your irritation. If you are aware then your irritation becomes weaker, but if you are not aware then the irritation can grow very fast turning into anger and stress, and other negative feelings. If you are aware it will weaken naturally because it is impermanent."

From a Dharma Talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh on January 18, 1998 in Plum Village, France
For more in-depth dharma articles and instruction, visit:  METTA REFUGE

Enhanced by Zemanta

Grieving is Not About Forgetting

"Every great loss demands that we choose life again.  We need to grieve in order to do this.  The pain we have not grieved over will always stand between us and life.

When we don't grieve, a part of us becomes caught in the past like Lot's wife who, because she looked back, was turned into a pillar of salt.

Grieving is not about forgetting.  Grieving allows us to heal, to remember with love rather than pain.  It is a sorting process.  One by one you let go of the things that are gone and you mourn for them.  One by one you take hold of the things that have become a part of who you are and build again."

Rachel Naomi Remen
Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal

For more in-depth dharma articles and instruction, visit:  METTA REFUGE

Enhanced by Zemanta

Poem - Stand Still in the Pain

Stand still in the pain,
Rooted in that in you which is light.
Let the sword go through you.
Maybe its not a sword at all.
Maybe it is a tuning fork.
You become a note.
You become the music
You always longed
To hear.
You didn't know you were
A song

Ylva Elisabet Eggehorn

For more in-depth dharma articles and instruction, visit:  METTA REFUGE

Forever Oneness, Who Sings to Us in Silence

Forever Oneness,
Who sings to us in silence,
Who teaches us through each other,
Guide my steps with strength and wisdom.
May I see the lessons as I walk,
Honor the purpose of all things.
Help me to touch with respect,
Always speak from behind my eyes.
Let me observe, not judge.
May I cause no harm, and leave
Music and beauty after my visit.
When I return to forever,
May the circle be closed
And the spiral broader.

Bee Lake, Australian Aboriginal mystic and poet

For more in-depth dharma articles and instruction, visit:  METTA REFUGE

Pema Chodron - The Love That Will Not Die

"Spiritual awakening is frequently described as a journey to the top of a mountain. We leave our attachments and our worldliness behind and slowly make our way to the top. At the peak, we transcend all pain.

The only problem with this metaphor is that we leave all the others behind—our drunken brother, our schizophrenic sister, our tormented animals and friends.  Their suffering continues,  unrelieved by our personal escape.

In the process of discovering bodhichitta [Bodhichitta is a Sanskrit word that means "noble or awakened heart."] the journey goes down, not up. It's as if the mountain pointed toward the center of the earth instead of reaching into the sky.  Instead of transcending the suffering of all creatures, we move toward the turbulence and doubt. We jump into it. We move toward it however we can.  We explore the reality and unpredictability of insecurity and pain, and we try not to push it away.  If it takes years, if it takes lifetimes, we let it be as it is.

At our pace, without speed or aggression, we move down and down and down.  With us move millions of others, our companions in awakening from fear. At the bottom, we discover water, the healing water of bodhichitta. Right down there in the thick of things, we discover the love that will not die."

Pema Chodron
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

For more in-depth dharma articles and instruction, visit:  METTA REFUGE
Enhanced by Zemanta

October 4, 2011

"What is this?" A Koan to Bring You Home

"We can't wake up simply by wishing to.  Without specific, ongoing effort we will continue to sleepwalk through our self-centered dream. Genuine awakening requires bringing attention repeatedly to the present moment of our life.

One laserlike tool to help us do this is the practice of continually asking ourselves, 'What is this?' Used in this way, the question become a koan, and as with all koans, the 'answer' can never be conceptual.

Don't try to analyze what the moment is about.  Instead, fully feel the texture of what your life truly is right now. The only real answer to the question 'What is this?' is your immediate expereince itself."

Ezra Bayda
Saying Yes to Life (Even the Hard Parts)
For more in-depth dharma articles and instruction, visit:  METTA REFUGE
Enhanced by Zemanta

October 3, 2011

How Even God Can Become an Object of Attachment

"Attachments necessitate objectification; there has to be an object to be attached to, and by its very definition there is a loss of the oneness. When we see this we can see that even God becomes objectified and an object of attachment. If you look at your usual experience, everything in it is an object, and you are attached whether you like it or not

If you like something, it's a positive attachment, you're holding onto it. If you don't like something, it is a negative attachment, you're pushing it away. There is attachment in the rejection; by trying to push something away you're trying to hold onto something else in yourself. This is the external manifestation of attachment, what it looks like from the outside.

But these feelings of wanting are not what the actual attachment feels like. You might feel that you can't let go of someone or something, that you love it, that you would feel a great loss if it were gone. Most people can only focus on the object of attachment; if they really saw the attachment itself they would start falling out of love."

A. H. AlmaasDiamond Heart - Book Two, pg 48)

For more in-depth dharma articles and instruction, visit:  METTA REFUGE
Enhanced by Zemanta

October 2, 2011

Bernie Glassman on the Zen of "letting go" that is not "letting go"

"All of us who come to Zen have a yearning to let go.  Naturally, we want to be free of the self, free of the ego, attain the mind that Shakyamuni attained under the bodhi tree. But what is letting go?

I don't think we understand it at all. We've got this idea of something trapped that we got to set free.  Like there's a bird in your hand, what Zen is about is spreading your fingers and letting it fly away.  Whoosh!  I'm enlightened!

But you and the bird are the same!  You and your hand are the same!  Nothing needs to be opened!  Nothing needs to fly away!  Realize this and you've automatically let go!"

Bernie Glassman
quoted in Ambivalent Zen by Lawrence Shainberg
For more in-depth dharma articles and instruction, visit:  METTA REFUGE
Enhanced by Zemanta

October 1, 2011

How Does One Live with the Darkness in Oneself?

"How is one to live a moral and compassionate existence when one is fully aware of the blood, the horror inherent in life, when one finds darkness not only in one's culture but within oneself?

If there is a stage at which an individual life becomes truly adult, it must be when one grasps the irony in its unfolding and accepts responsibility for a life lived in the midst of such paradox. One must live in the middle of contradiction, because if all contradiction were eliminated at once life would collapse.

There are simply no answers to some of the great pressing questions. You continue to live them out, making your life a worthy expression of leaning into the light."

Barry Lopez
For more in-depth dharma articles and instruction, visit:  METTA REFUGE
Enhanced by Zemanta

Four Poems of Kabir with Music

If you love the wisdom of the Indian mystic Kabir, you will enjoy these four poems, which are accompanied by some lovely music you can listen to.  Enjoy!

Kabir-  "I Said To The Wanting-Creature Inside Me" - Poem and Music

Kabir – "The Sound" – Poem and Music

Kabir – "Breath" – Poem and Music

Kabir - "The Time Before Death" - Poem and Music

"All know the drop merges into the ocean. But very few know that the ocean merges into the drop."   ~  Kabir
For more in-depth dharma articles and instruction, visit:  METTA REFUGE
Enhanced by Zemanta

Courage Does Not Always Roar

Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."
For more in-depth dharma articles and instruction, visit:  METTA REFUGE