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As we strive to develop compassion for ourselves, it’s important to avoid making “letting go of desire” or “developing compassion for yourself” into new objects of compulsive desire. Becoming obsessive about quickly seeing big results from our efforts is a sign that deluded desire rather than compassion is driving our efforts. Real progress derives from honest introspection, and we cannot analyze our minds carefully when we’re hurried. Transforming our hearts is a gradual, organic process, and successfully cultivating compassion for ourselves necessitates a mature and steady approach.

–Lorne Ladner, from The Lost Art of Compassion (HarperSanFrancisco)
Tricycle's Daily Dharma for May 22, 2009
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A fire reflected in a lake cannot burn the water. Neither can emotions disturb the mind when you don’t get involved in them. Don’t identify an emotion as your self. The fear or anger is not you, only and impersonal phenomenon. Mentally pull back from the emotion and turn your awareness around to observe it. When in the grip of negative emotion we tend to believe it will never end. But emotions are no more permanent than thoughts. With continued practice you’ll find that you only have to wait and any emotion, whether pleasant or unpleasant, is bound to change.

–Cynthia Thatcher, from Just Seeing: Insight Mediation and Sense-Perception
Trycycle's daily dharma for May 3, 1009
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Have confidence in your own spiritual potentiality, your ability to find your own unique way. Learn from others certainly and use what you find useful, but also learn to trust your own inner wisdom. Have courage. Be awake and aware. Remember too that Buddhism is not about being a Buddhist; that is, obtaining a new identity tag. Nor is it about collecting head-knowledge, practices and techniques. It is ultimately about letting go of all forms and concepts and becoming free.

--John Snelling, Elements of Buddhism, from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book
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Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. - Buddha

from [livejournal.com profile] buddhistmoms.

So, I say, let anger flow over you like hot water and then it's gone. Meditation and practice helps you know how to deal with anger...kind of like equipping yourself with hot pads or a fire suit or thicker skin, or the knowledge of how to handle hot water so when it flows over you, you are not burned by it.
cherydactyl: (Cheryl The Monarch)
It is not doing the things we like to do, but liking the things we have to do that makes life blessed.

-Goethe
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Right Livelihood appears to be harder to practice these days than in the time of the Buddha. The rule is still the same: Right Livelihood is organizing one's financial support so that it is non-abusive, non-exploitative, and non-harming. However, these days what is abusive and exploitative is not necessarily self-evident.

When the Buddha taught, unwholesome livelihood categories were easy to distinguish. Soldiering, keeping slaves, manufacturing weapons and intoxicants – all were on the proscribed list. In our time, soldiers sometimes serve as peacekeepers. It's hard to know the wholesomeness of all the products of any corporation, corporate mergers being what they are. Who knows what else is being manufactured by me detergent company's subsidiaries? . . .

For me, a complete picture of wholesome Right Livelihood is even larger than the proscriptions that reflect external choices. Wholesome internal choices – healthy attitudes about one's work – also contribute to mental happiness and peace of mind. Everyone's livelihood is an opportunity for self-esteem.

-- Sylvia Boorstein, It's Easier Thank You Think
Tricycle's Daily Dharma for August 22, 2008

As a bonus, I just acquired this book for my TBR pile
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If we take a motor car, we feel quite sure about what we have . . . until we start taking it apart. But once we have . . . taken out the gearbox and transmission, removed the wheels and so on--what's left? We don't have a car any more, just a set of spare parts.

It is the same with a person. That too can be stripped down to its basic components . . . the so-called skandhas or "groups." There is 1. the category of the physical, which includes the body and its five senses; 2. that of feeling; 3. perception; 4. mental formations (impulses and emotions); and 5. consciousness or mind. When these groups of components come together in proper working order, the right conditions exist for the illusion of a self and a person to arise. But once they break down and go their separate ways--as at physical death, for instance--then that self or person cannot be found.

--John Snelling, in Elements of Buddhism, from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith
Tricycle's Daily Dharma for August 17, 2008
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Wisdom replaces ignorance in our minds when we realize that happiness does not lie in the accumulation of more and more pleasant feelings, that gratifying craving does not bring us a feeling of wholeness or completeness. It simply leads to more craving and more aversion. When we realize in our own experience that happiness comes not from reaching out but from letting go, not from seeking pleasurable experience but from opening in the moment to what is true, this transformation of understanding then frees the energy of compassion within us. Our minds are no longer bound up in pushing away pain or holding on to pleasure. Compassion becomes the natural response of an open heart.

--Joseph Goldstein, in Seeking the Heart of Wisdom, from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith
Tricycle's Daily Dharma for August 6, 2008

No Regret

Aug. 1st, 2008 10:03 am
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Beings are owners of their actions. . . heirs of their actions; they originate from their actions, are bound to their actions, have their actions as their refuge. It is action that distinguishes beings as inferior and superior.

--Culakammavibhanga Sutta, from The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi
from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith
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The near-enemy of love is attachment. Attachment masquerades as love. It says, "I will love you if you will love me back." It is a kind of "businessman's" love. So we think, "I will love this person as long as he doesn't change. I will love that thing if it will be the way I want it." But this isn't love at all--it is attachment. There is a big difference between love, which allows and honors and appreciates, and attachment, which grasps and demands and aims to possess. When attachment becomes confused with love, it actually separates us from another person. We feel we need this other person in order to be happy. This quality of attachment also leads us to offer love only toward certain people, excluding others.

--Joseph Goldstein, in Seeking the Heart of Wisdom, from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith
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The theory of karma should not be confused with so-called "moral justice" or "reward and punishment." The idea of moral justice, or reward and punishment, arises out of the conception of a supreme being, a God, who sits in judgment, who is a law-giver and who decides what is right and wrong. The term "justice" is ambiguous and dangerous, and in its name more harm than good is done to humanity. The theory of karma is the theory of cause and effect, of action and reaction; it is a natural law, which has nothing to do with the idea of justice or reward and punishment. Every volitional action produces its effects or results. If a good action produces good effects and a bad action bad effects, it is not justice, or reward, or punishment meted out by anybody or any power sitting in judgment on your action, but this is in virtue of its own nature, its own law. This is not difficult to understand. But what is difficult is that, according to the karma theory, the effects of a volitional action may continue to manifest themselves even in a life after death.

--Walpola Rahula in What the Buddha Taught, from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith
Tricycle's Daily Dharma for July 23, 2008
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There is only one teacher. What is that teacher? Life itself. And of course each one of us is a manifestation of life; we couldn't be anything else. Now life happens to be both a severe and an endlessly kind teacher. It's the only authority that you need to trust. And this teacher, this authority, is everywhere. You don't have to go to some special place to find this incomparable teacher, you don't have to have some especially quiet or ideal situation: in fact, the messier it is, the better. The average office is a great place. The average home is perfect. Such places are pretty messy most of the time--we all know from firsthand experience! That is where the authority, the teacher is.

--Charlotte Joko Beck, in Everyday Zen, from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith
Tricycle's Daily Dharma for July 18, 2008
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Rather than dividing thoughts into classes like good and bad, Buddhist thinkers prefer to regard them as skillful versus unskillful. An unskillful thought is one connected with greed, hatred, or delusion. These are the thoughts that the mind most easily builds into obsessions. They are unskillful in the sense that they lead you away from the goal of Liberation. Skillful thoughts, on the other hand, are those connected with generosity, compassion, and wisdom. They are skillful in the sense that they may be used as specific remedies for unskillful thoughts, and thus can assist you toward Liberation.

- Henepola Gunaratana, "Mindfulness in Plain English," from Everyday Mind
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Remember that your thoughts are transformed into speech and action in order to bring the expected result. Thought translated into action is capable of producing a tangible result. You should always speak and do things with mindfulness of loving kindness

For all practical purposes, if all of your enemies are well, happy and peaceful, they would not be your enemies. If they are free from problems, pain, suffering, affliction, neurosis, psychosis, fear, tension, anxiety, etc., they would not be your enemies. Your practical solution toward your enemies is to help them to overcome their problems, so you can live in peace and happiness. In fact, if you can, you should fill the minds of all your enemies with loving kindness and make all of them realize the true meaning of peace, so you can live in peace and happiness. The more they are in neurosis, psychosis, fear, tension, anxiety, etc., the more trouble, pain and suffering they can bring to the world. If you could convert a vicious and wicked person into a holy and saintly individual, you would perform a miracle. Let us cultivate adequate wisdom and loving kindness within ourselves to convert evil minds to saintly minds.

- Henepola Gunaratana, Mindfulness in Plain English from Everyday Mind
Tricycle's Daily Dharma: February 29, 2008
cherydactyl: (stick)
Seeing the suffering in the world around us and in our own bodies and minds, we begin to understand suffering not only as an individual problem, but as a universal experience. It is one of the aspects of being alive. The question that then comes to mind is: If compassion arises from the awareness of suffering, why isn't the world a more compassionate place? The problem is that often our hearts are not open to feel the pain. We move away from it, close off, and become defended. By closing ourselves off from suffering, however, we also close ourselves to our own wellspring of compassion. We don't need to be particularly saintly in order to be compassionate. Compassion is the natural response of an open heart, but that wellspring of compassion remains capped as long as we turn away from or deny or resist the truth of what is there. When we deny our experience of suffering, we move away from what is genuine to what is fabricated, deceptive, and confusing.

- Joseph Goldstein, Seeking the Heart of Wisdom, from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith
Tricycle's Daily Dharma: February 17, 2008

My comments:
Though I think by definition enlightened beings no longer suffer, because they no longer try to sidestep pain, if I understand correctly. Neither do they need empathy about suffering as impetus for compassion anymore. Though enlightenment is kind of like infinity in that it's more like a limit than an actuality in my opinion. :)
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The First Noble Truth declares unflinchingly, straight out, that pain is inherent in life itself just because everything is changing. The Second Noble Truth explains that suffering is what happens when we struggle with whatever our life experience is rather than accepting and opening to our experience with wise and compassionate response. From this point of view, theres a big difference between pain and suffering. Pain is inevitable; lives come with pain. Suffering is not inevitable. If suffering is what happens when we struggle with experience because of our inability to accept it, then suffering is an optional extra.

I misunderstood this when I started my practice and believed if I meditated hard enough I would be finished with all pain. That turned out to be a big mistake. I was disappointed when I discovered the error and embarrassed that I had been so nave. Its obvious we are not going to finish with pain in this lifetime.

The Buddha said, Everything dear to us causes pain. Those of us who have chosen relational life have made the choice that the pain is worth it.

-Sylvia Boorstein, Its Easier Than You Think, from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith
Tricycle's Daily Dharma: February 16, 2008

Busy Work

Feb. 13th, 2008 11:02 am
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Some people think that they will practice the dharma once they have finished with their worldly business. This is a mistaken attitude because our work in the world never finishes. Work is like a ripple of water continually moving on the surface of the ocean. It is very difficult to break free from our occupations in order to practice dharma. The busy work with which we fill our lives is only completed at the time of our death.

- Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, 'Meaningful to Behold' from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith
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Most of the time we go through the day, through our activities, our work, our relationships, our conversations, and very rarely do we ground ourselves in an awareness of our bodies. We are lost in our thoughts, our feelings, our emotions, our stories, our plans.

A very simple guide or check on this state of being lost is to pay attention to those times when you feel like you are rushing. Rushing does not have to do with speed. You can rush moving slowly, and you can rush moving quickly. We are rushing when we feel as if we are toppling forward. Our minds run ahead of ourselves; they are out there where we want to get to, instead of being settled back in our bodies. The feeling of rushing is good feedback. Whenever we are not present, right then, in that situation, we should stop and take a few deep breaths. Settle into the body again. Feel yourself sitting. Feel the step of a walk. Be in your body.

The Buddha made a very powerful statement about this: Mindfulness of the body leads to nirvana. Such awareness is not a superficial practice. Mindfulness of the body keeps us present.

-Joseph Goldstein, "Transforming the Mind, Healing the World" from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith
Tricycle's Daily Dharma for February 12, 2008
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Māvoca pharusaṃ kañci,
vuttā paṭivadeyyu taṃ.
Dukkhā hi sārambhakathā,
paṭidaṇḍā phuseyyu taṃ.

Speak not harshly to anyone,
for those thus spoken to might retort.
Indeed, angry speech hurts,
and retaliation may overtake you.

Dhammapada 10.133

from the "daily words of the Buddha," aka [livejournal.com profile] dailybuddha

I think I need to start chanting this to myself.

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