If you have time to be mindful, you have time to meditate.
Photo by shiroari.
If you have time to be mindful, you have time to meditate.
Photo by shiroari.
It is a man’s own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways.
Photo by Tiff Hung.
A person who is liberated, who has freed his or her mind of all mental afflictions, still experiences physical suffering. The difference between us and an arhat, a person who has freed the mind from mental affliction, is that an arhat doesn’t identify with pain. Arhats experience physical pain vividly but don’t grasp onto it; they can take action to avoid or alleviate pain, but whether they do so or not, the physical pain doesn’t come inside. What an arhat does not experience is mental suffering. A buddha, one who is perfectly spiritually awakened, has gone a further step. A buddha has no mental suffering of his or her own, but is vividly and non-dually aware of the suffering of others. Superficially, the arhat who is free from mental suffering can seem to us who lack this realization as numb and detached, in a state of existential anesthesia. A buddha, one who is fully awakened, presents the paradox of being free from suffering and also non-dually present with other people’s joys and sorrows, hopes and fears. A buddha taps into immutable bliss, the ultimate ground state of awareness beyond the dichotomy of stimulus-driven pain and pleasure. The mind of a buddha has been purified of all obscuration and from its own nature there naturally arises immutable bliss, like a spring welling up from the earth. With the unveiling of the buddha-nature of unconditioned bliss, there is also a complete erosion of an absolute demarcation between self and other. The barrier is gone. This is why buddhas are vividly and non-dually aware of the suffering of others, their hopes and fears, the whole situation, and at the same time are not disengaged from the purity and bliss of their own awareness. The mind of a buddha doesn’t block out anything and nothing is inhibited, and this is why the awareness of an awakened being is frequently described as “unimaginable.”
B. Alan Wallace.
Photo by Thomas Kaye.
There is a difference between watching the mind and controlling the mind. Watching the mind with a gentle, open attitude allows the mind to settle down and come to rest. Trying to control the mind, or trying to control the way that one’s spiritual practice will unfold, just stirs up more agitation and suffering.
Bhante Henepola Gunaratana.
Photo by ABJ73.
Most people feel cozy enough in samsara. They do not really have the genuine aspiration to go beyond samsara; they just want samsara to be a little bit better. The underlying motivation to go beyond samsara is very rare, even for people who go to Dharma centers. There are many people who learn to meditate and so forth, but with the underlying motive that they hope to make themselves feel better. And if it ends up making them feel worse, instead of realizing that this may be a good sign, they think there is something wrong with Dharma. We are always looking to make ourselves comfortable in the prison house. We might think that if we get the cell wall painted a pretty shade of pale green, and put in a few pictures, it won’t be a prison any more.
Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo.
Photo by Drawmurai Studio.
The Karmapa gave this verse to Lama Tenam to use in his meditation practice. Within the Kagyu lineage, the practice of mahamudra is the deepest form of meditation. It is deceptively simple to describe and quite difficult to practice. Mahamudra practice could be described as remaining settled into the nature of mind, immersed in its nature that is awareness and emptiness inseparable, not touched by artifice, which means that there is no effort to do anything, and free of reference, which means that the mind is not grasping at anything at all. If you were working with this verse, you would first memorize it and reflect on its meaning until it became very clear. Then resting in meditation, you would float the verse in your mindstream, keeping a gentle focus, much as a koan is held. Then, after a while, you would let it go and rest in the space it has opened out, free of referent or mental activity. When thoughts arose again, you would fold them into the verse, which would become your referent again, and so you would continue, naturally shifting between resting in meditation and reflecting on the verse.
Photo by Sofery.
One method of meditation that many people find useful is to rest the mind lightly on an object. You can use an object of natural beauty that invokes a special feeling of inspiration for you, such as a flower or a crystal. But something that embodies the truth, such as an image of Buddha, or Christ, or particularly your master, is even more powerful. Your master is your living link with the truth, and because of your personal connection to your master, just seeing his or her face connects you to the inspiration and truth of your own nature.
Photo by Jessica Voyten.
Video by David McMeekin.
When I was in solitary retreat, I knew that I was together with all sentient beings in innumerable worlds. Even though I seemed to be alone in a small, enclosed room, actually I was in company with many ants who found their way inside, and there were many insects around the hut who created all kinds of sounds in the evening. When I opened the Sutras, people thousands of years in the past were talking to me. How could I feel lonely? Some people think I must feel lonely being a monk without any wife or children. Not at all. I have the 5 precepts and the 10 Virtuous Deeds as my wife, and my children are all the people who I have developed a karmic affinity with and who call me Shih-fu. It is only those pitiable people who enclose themselves and cannot establish a relationship with the outside world who feel lonely. If you keep yourself enclosed, even if you live among thousands of people you will still feel very lonely. However, if you keep yourself open, then even if you are living alone, you will still have a very full life. So open your mind and treat everyone as your intimate, virtuous friend.
Photo by Kancano.
Because we don’t recognize our essential nature—we don’t realize that although appearances arise unceasingly, nothing is really there—we invest with solidity and reality the seeming truth of self, other, and actions between self and others. This intellectual obscuration gives rise to attachment and aversion, followed by actions and reactions that create karma, solidify into habit, and perpetuate the cycles of suffering. This entire process needs to be purified.
Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche.
Photo by Michael Bittick.
Buddha’s teachings are so simple and straightforward. If you find them complicated, it is only because you have made them so. You may think, “I have a Ph.D. and have amassed all this knowledge, yet still can’t figure out how to begin practicing Dharma.” The remedy is to take a good look at your own mind.
Lama Thubten Yeshe.
Photo by Carl Price.
What is undistracted calm abiding? It is meditative absorption free of the six types of distraction. What are these six?
(1) Inherent distraction refers to the eye consciousness and the other four collections of consciousness. Because they are naturally directed outward, they [cause one to] emerge from meditative absorption.
(2) External distraction refers to a mental consciousness that reaches out towards or engages objects.
(3) Internal distraction concerns dullness and agitation, as well as savoring one’s meditative absorption.
(4) The distraction of marks occurs when, trusting in meditative absorption, one apprehends marks of it and becomes attached.
(5) Distraction brought about by negative tendencies is when directing the mind involves the apprehending of an ego. This is said to refer to the mental act of pridefully believing oneself to be superior to others, or [simply any mental act] that involves apprehending an “I.”
(6) The distraction of directing the mind occurs when one is caught up in the mindset of, and directs the mind in the style of, the Lesser Vehicle.
The undistracted calm abiding that is determined by the elimination of those six is the unique calm abiding of the Great Vehicle. This is a state of one-pointed inner rest, a flawless calm abiding. In it, there is no apprehension of marks, as is the case when inner absorption alone is believed to bring liberation. Neither does it involve the ego apprehension that occurs in the concentrations of non-Buddhists. Further, one does not direct the mind as one would when cultivating the supports for the inferior paths [to liberation]. This is how the wise should understand the calm abiding of the Great Vehicle.
Khenpo Shenga and Ju Mipham.
Photo by Viky Poplou.
Every day we have an opportunity to learn, as there is hardly a human being without some daily dukkha. (Dukkha - suffering or dissatisfaction)
Photo by Lauren Cain.
Shantideva cites three benefits of pain. First, it is valuable because through sorrow, pride is driven out. No matter how arrogant and condescending we’ve been, great suffering can humble us. The pain of a serious illness or loss of a loved one can be transformative, softening us and making us less self-centered. The second benefit of pain is empathy: the compassion felt for those who wander in samsara. Our personal suffering brings compassion for others in the same situation. A young woman was telling me that when her baby died, she felt a deep connection to all the other parents who had lost children. This was, as she put it, the unexpected blessing of her sorrow. The third value of suffering is that evil is avoided and goodness seems delightful. When we practice according to Shantideva’s instructions, we can get smarter about cause and result. Based on this understanding, we’ll have less inclination to cause harm, and more desire to gather virtue and benefit others.
Photo by Julia Manzerova.
Realizing for ourselves that the power to achieve
contentment comes from within requires an
understanding of how our thinking process
controls our behaviors and, thereby, our results.
Photo by Eric Lopez.