Sunday, December 23, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Prajna is, above all, a practical knowledge, which is emphasized by the pra-prefix (cognate to pro- in English), indicating a "moving towards". What sort of knowledge is this? Generally it involves a breakdown of the factors of sensation and experience. These factors came to be called dharmas, 'upholders', and were related to the sense of Dharma as 'Teaching, Norm, True Doctrine', in that they are the true factors revealed by proper analysis of the dynamics of mind and sensation. Analysis in Buddhism is always at least in part, self-analysis. One does not acquire knowledge or insight merely to know a fact, as if one were a disinterested or unaffected observer. Rather, one analyzes and strives to know in order to improve oneself, to better understand how one has become what one is at THIS moment, and how one can MOVE, CHANGE, in a manner that reduces and ultimately eliminates pernicious views and drives. One does this not only for one's own benefit, but in order to become more effective in assisting others to do likewise. The most potent and common description of what constitutes Awakening in the early literature is 'the destruction of the asavas', asavas being the deep-core, embodied, conditioned proclivities that bind one to the suffering of the rounds of samsara. Even as later Buddhists replaced the term asava with others (klesa, anusaya, vasana, etc), the general programme of rooting out and eliminating samskara remain central.
Dan Lusthaus, Buddhist Phenomenology
Read More Here@Amazon
Or Here@ Wisdom-Books
Picture by Genomi@Flickr
Saturday, December 08, 2007
The Buddha offered an understanding of the actions that perpetuate the repetitive behavioural patterns called "samsara" that differed from contemporaneous Indian yogic traditions in several key respects. In the Buddhist view, what keeps beings trapped in these cyclic patterns is both the deep-seated but mistaken apprehension that we are (or have) an unchanging, independent, self-subsistent entity or "self" ("atman"), as well as the misguided activities motivated by attachment to such a self. Sentient beings are thought to consist of aggregations of ever-evolving physiological and psychological processes which arise and persist only as long as the causes and conditions that sustain them persist. Chief amongst these sustaining conditions are, paradoxically, the very ignorance of these basic facts of life, and the futile desires and activities to deny or overcome them through attempting to grasp onto something permanent.
Buddhist thought thoroughly critiques our attempts to attain permanence, independence and self-subsistence by identifying with transient, conditioned phenomena, whether material, psychological or conceptual. We impute intrinsic meaning and value onto these phenomena and imagine that their possession somehow augments our essential worth or well-being. These things possess a symbolic value above and beyond their physical existence. Enthralled by these enduring yet abstract objects, we create a life-world of seemingly solid, yet unavoidably mediated 'things'. Man, the symbol-making creature, constructs a world of his own in which to make his home.
But this is only half the picture. We also build up an image and an idea, a deep-seated attachment to, an equally symbolic sense of "self" which can experience and enjoy these apparently independent objects. We imaginatively create a locus of subjective experence, an enduring referent to the notions of self and "I" with which we can identify and hold as our own. Our entire world of experience is experienced in reference to this self-wrought "self", Man, the "self-making" creature, constructs the subject of his own experience which may dwell within his self-constructed home.
William Waldon, The Buddhist Unconscious - The alaya-vijnana in the context of Indian Buddhist thought
Read More Here@Amazon
Also see: Understanding our Mind by Thich Nhat Hanh@Amazon
Google results for "Alaya-vijnana"
Picture by rgilcreasedatabrokers@Flickr
Friday, December 07, 2007
IN REALITY wisdom is love and love is wisdom, although in one person wisdom may be predominant and in another love. The cold-hearted man is never wise, nor is the really warm-hearted person foolish; yet both these qualities, love and wisdom, are distinct and separate, and it is possible that a person may be loving but lacking in wisdom. It may also happen that a person who is wise is lacking in love to some extent; but no one can be wise if love is absent from his heart, and no one will be truly loving if wisdom had not illuminated his heart, for love comes from wisdom and wisdom comes from love.
Hazrat Inayat Khan
Read More Here
Picture: All Rights Reserved ®aml.2007
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Renunciation has an automatic action on the heart of man, an action which very few realize because very few arrive at that stage where they can renounce. By this action a spiritual spark is kindled in the soul; and when a person has arrived at that stage he has taken the first step on the path of spirituality. The spark produced by this action in the depths of the heart culminates in a flame, a torch in life; and this changes the whole outlook on life.
Only he whose heart is full of happiness after an act of renunciation should make a renunciation. This shows that renunciation is not something that can be learned or taught. It comes by itself as the soul develops, when the soul begins to see the true value of things. All that is valuable to others a seer begins to see differently. Thus the value of all the things that we consider precious or not precious, is according to the way we look at them. For one person the renunciation of a penny is too much; for another that of everything he possesses is nothing. It depends on how we look at things. One rises above all that one renounces in life. Man remains the slave of anything which he has not renounced; of that which he has renounced he becomes king. This whole world can become a kingdom to a person who has renounced it. Renunciation depends upon the evolution of the soul. One who has not evolved spiritually cannot really renounce. Toys so precious to children mean nothing to the grown-up; it is easy to renounce them; and so it is for those who develop spiritually; for them all things are easy to renounce.
Hazrat Inayat Khan
Read More Here
Spiritual awareness and the quest for enlightenment do not arise spontaneously in harmony with our natural modes of world engagement, but require a turn "against the current", a break away from our instinctual urges for expansion and enjoyment, and the embarkation in a different direction. This break is precipitated by the encounter with suffering which tears us our of our BLIND ABSORPTION in the immediacy of temporal being and sets us in search of a way to its transcendence.
Picture by: John Kazanas@Flickr
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
A Message by George Carlin:
The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.
We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.
We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete...
Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.
Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.
Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.
Remember, to say, "I love you" to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.
Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.
Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.
AND ALWAYS REMEMBER:
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
Picture by miguel36@Flickr
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Our rush into hasty or habitual reactions after receiving the first few signals from our perceptions. But if we muster the restraining forces of mindfulness and pause for bare attention, the material and mental processes that form the objects of mind at the given moment will reveal themselves to us more fully and more truly.
No longer dragged at once into the whirlpool of self-reference, allowed to unfold themselves before the watchful eye of mindfulness, they will dissolve the diversity of their aspects and the wide net of their correlations and inter-connections.
Picture by sp clarke@Flickr
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Every one will admit that all the evils in the world are produced by selfish desire. But how this desire or 'thirst' can produce re-existence and re-becoming is a problem not so easy to grasp.
There are four nutriments in the sense of 'cause' or 'condition' necessary for the existence and continuity of beings: ordinary material food, contact of our sense organs (including mind) with the external world, consciousness and volition or will.
Of these four, the last mentioned 'mental volition' is the will to live, to exist, to re-exist, to continue, to become more and more. It creates the root of existence and continuity, striving forward by way of good and bad actions. When one understands the nutriment of mental volition, one understands the three forms of 'thirst'. Thus the terms 'thirst', 'volition', 'mental volition', and 'karma' all denote the same thing: the desire, the will to be, to exist, to re-exist, to become more and more, to grow more and more, to accumulate more and more. This is the cause of the arising of 'dukkha' (suffering and unsatisfactoriness in worldy life).
What the Buddha Taught, Venerable Dr Walpola Rahula
Sunday, November 18, 2007
The Buddha describes the Dhamma as "subtle, deep and difficult to see," and one of the things that make it difficult to see is its thesis that the highest happiness cannot be won by yielding to the longings of the heart but only by subduing them. This thesis runs utterly counter to the thought, attitudes and actions of people fully immersed in the world. As long as we are infatuated with the seductive lures of sensual enjoyment, as long as we take delight in being this or becoming that, we will regard the sublime Dhamma as a mystery and a puzzle.
The Buddha therefore realized that the first major challenge that he would face in establishing his world-transcending Dhamma was to break the grip that sensual pleasure and worldly attachment have upon the mind. He had to knock the mind out of its accustomed ruts and set it moving in an altogether different direction.
We have to learn to see beneath the glitter of pleasure, position and power that usually enthralls us, and at the same time, to learn to see through the deceptive distortions of perception, thought and views that habitually cloak our vision. Ordinarily, we represent things to ourselves through the refractory prism of our subjective biases.
In the Buddha's Words, Bhikkhu Bodhi
Picture from BuddhistChannel
The Pali verb "conceives" (mannati), form the root 'man', "to think", is often used in the Pali suttas to mean distortional thinking - thought that ascribes to its object characteristics and a significance derived not from the object itself, but from one's own subjective imaginings. The cognitive distortion introduced by conceiving consists, in brief, the intrusion of the egocentric perspective into the experience already slightly distorted by spontaneous perception. The activity of conceiving is governed by three defilements, which account for the different ways it comes to manifestation - craving (tanha), conceit (mana) and views (ditthi).
From Notes to Majjhima Nikaya by Bhikkhu Nanamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi
So it was with reference to this that it was said: 'One should not neglect wisdom, should preserve truth, should cultivate relinquishment, and should train for peace.' The tides of conceiving do not sweep over one who stands upon these foundations, and when the tides of conceiving no longer sweep over him, he is called a sage at peace.'
Majjhima Nikaya Sutta 140
Picture from BuddhistChannel
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
When Patanjali uses the word 'yoga', he means 'yoking'. The practice of yoga is meant to rein in the tendency of consciousness to gravitate towards external things, to identify with them and try to locate happiness in them. Steady practice at "yoking'' teaches consciousness how to turn inward toward itself and realize the true nature of its underlying awareness.
In order to still the movements of consciousness to the point of realization - seeing reality as it is - we must allow each aspect of ourselves to clarify. We are encouraged to bring clarity to our relationships with the beings and objects of the external world, so that those relationships might cease to generate suffering or impede realization. Likewise, we are assured that a disciplined inner life is the most direct path to happiness.
In Patanjali's view, the commotion of our physical and mental life conceals the fact that our thoughts and actions are almost always tinged with wanting, aversion, egoism or fear of extinction. The challenge lies in overcoming the well-established mental and physical habits that already produce suffering in our lives.
The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali
A new translation with commentary by Chip Hartranft
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Samvega was what the young Prince Siddhartha felt on his first exposure to aging, illness, and death. It's a hard word to translate because it covers such a complex range — at least three clusters of feelings at once: the oppressive sense of shock, dismay, and alienation that come with realizing the futility and meaninglessness of life as it's normally lived; a chastening sense of our own complacency and foolishness in having let ourselves live so blindly; and an anxious sense of urgency in trying to find a way out of the meaningless cycle. This is a cluster of feelings we've all experienced at one time or another in the process of growing up..
The first step in that solution is symbolized in the Siddhartha story by the prince's reaction to the fourth person he saw on his travels outside of the palace: the wandering forest contemplative. The emotion he felt at this point is termed pasada, another complex set of feelings usually translated as "clarity and serene confidence." It's what keeps samvega from turning into despair. In the prince's case, he gained a clear sense of his predicament and of the way out of it, leading to something beyond aging, illness, and death, at the same time feeling confident that the way would work.
As the early Buddhist teachings freely admit, the predicament is that the cycle of birth, aging, and death is meaningless. They don't try to deny this fact and so don't ask us to be dishonest with ourselves or to close our eyes to reality. As one teacher has put it, the Buddhist recognition of the reality of suffering — so important that suffering is honored as the first noble truth — is a gift, in that it confirms our most sensitive and direct experience of things, an experience that many other traditions try to deny.
From there, the early teachings ask us to become even more sensitive, to the point where we see that the true cause of suffering is not out there — in society or some outside being — but in here, in the craving present in each individual mind. They then confirm that there is an end to suffering, a release from the cycle. And they show the way to that release, through developing noble qualities already latent in the mind to the point where they cast craving aside and open onto Deathlessness. Thus the predicament has a practical solution, a solution within the powers of every human being.
To read full essay "Affirming the truths of the heart", Click Here
Picture from kalsang35@Flickr.com
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Sunday, November 04, 2007
A story of a boy who was a fighter pilot whose plane was shot down by the Japanese.
To read article from the What Is Enlightenment magazine on the same subject, click here:
Death, Rebirth, and Everything in Between -
A scientific and philosophical exploration by Carter Phipps
Google Search results on "rebirth"
To read article from the What Is Enlightenment magazine on the same subject, click here:
Death, Rebirth, and Everything in Between -
A scientific and philosophical exploration by Carter Phipps
Google Search results on "rebirth"
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Human Rights Watch (HRW) says children as young as 10 are beaten or threatened with arrest to make them enlist.
The report, entitled "Sold to be Soldiers: The Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers in Burma" says there are thousands of children in the Burmese military.
It claims that children are approached in public places by military recruiters and civilian brokers who have been promised cash rewards by the military.
The children are often beaten or threatened with arrest to force them to enlist, the report says.
BBC News: Read More Here
For full report from Human Rights Watch, Click Here
Monday, October 22, 2007
Saturday, October 20, 2007
In the Kalacakratantra, gnosis (jnana), which is considered the ultimate reality, is the most crucial concept.
As in other gnostic traditions, the main focus of the Kalacakratantra is on gnosis as the source of the individual's aspiration for enlightenment, as the means leading to the fulfillment of that aspiration, and as the fulfillment of that aspiration.
When this source of aspiration for spiritual awakening is brought forth, or made fully conscious, it liberates one from cyclic existence. But when it is not brought forth, or remains unconscious, it destroys the individual and keeps him in cyclic existence. Therefore, it is said that gnosis is the source of both cyclic existence and nirvana.
In this regard, the Kalacakratantra fully accords with the writings of other gnostic systems, which also sees gnosis as the source of sublime power, the ground of all being, and the potential for liberation or destruction, existing in a latent state within the psyche of all people.
The Gospel of Thomas expresses it in this way:
If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you.
If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.
The Christian gnostic text the Testimony of Truth asserts that the gnostic is a disciple of his own mind, "the father of the truth". Therefore, gnosis is nothing other than self-knowledge, insight into the depths of one's own being. As for all other gnostic traditions, so too for the Kalacakratantra tradition, the individual who lacks this knowledge is driven by impulses that he does not comprehend. One suffers due to ignorance regarding one's own divine nature. Therefore, ignorance of oneself is a form of self-destruction.
In other words, in these gnostic traditions, one becomes the transcendent reality that one perceives at the time of spiritual transformation. Having perceived oneself in this way, one perceives and knows all things in the same way. Likewise, just as in the Kalacakratantra, so too in some Christian gnostic systems, the realization of gnosis entails the transcendence of all differentiations, or dualities, for it is the final integration of the knower and the known. One reads in the Gospel of Thomas:
"When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and when you make the male and the female one and the same... then you will enter [the Kingdom]."
The Kalacakratantra speaks of this non-dual perception of the world in terms of seeing all things as being of the "same taste" - the taste of gnosis.
The Inner Kalacakratantra by Vesna A. Wallace
Photo Credit: Picture @ Flickr
Thursday, October 18, 2007
"I am deeply touched that this great honor has been given to me, a Buddhist monk born of a simple family."
For full story at CNN
Dalai Lama Says His Successor Could be Chosen by Unorthodox Method -
The Dalai Lama says his successor could be chosen among a group of senior monks, rather than through the centuries-old tradition of reincarnation.
In an interview with VOA, the Tibetan spiritual leader said his successor could be chosen like the Pope, or he may decide to declare his own successor while he is still alive.
Website of the Tibet Government in Exile
Teachings of HH The Dalai Lama
Friday, October 12, 2007
There is a term in Tibetan, nge jung, that is often translated as "renunciation", but which literally means "definite emergence". Definite emergence is the capacity to wake up and be willing to face our life and our habitual tendencies. It is the intention, either consciously chosen or instinctually driven, to become conscious. This movement towards consciousness has at its heart the recognition that the resolution of the struggles and suffering of our life is to face them. While we may be tempted to hide our fallibility and problems, and deny or anesthetize our emotional struggles, they are resolved only when we genuinely address them honestly and openly. Anything else simple perpetuates a regressive sleep of ignorance. We may put a bandage over our pain and wounds, hoping they will go away, but at some point we will need to bring fresh air to them. In our lives, it would seem that almost anything may be used as a means to avoid facing ourselves and anesthetizing our awareness. We may take refuge in our material desires, our sensory stimulation and entertainment, our work, relationships, and various intoxicating substances, including food.
The meaning of this renunciation is not giving up life. It is living fully, fearlessly and with openness.
Emerging from this illusion, we take a step across the threshold, facing our fear and insecurity. This requires an inner decision: the willingness to truly wake up and face ourselves, to engage in life knowing that the source of our suffering or our happiness lies in our minds. We are then confronted with the reality that we, on one level, choose the life we create. The heroic quest begins when we take up the challenge.
The Wisdom of Imperfection, Rob Preece
Picture by: ornellab. at Flickr.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
To a Tibetan, religion is not so much the adherence to a certain creed or dogma, but a natural expression of faith in the higher destiny of man, that is, in his capacity to free himself from the bondage of delusion and the narrowness of egohood in order to realize the universality of his true nature in the Enlightened Mind.
Insights of a Himalayan Pilgrim
Picture ® aml
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
"Monks, there are these five aspects of speech by which others may address you: timely or untimely, true or false, affectionate or harsh, beneficial or unbeneficial, with a mind of good-will or with inner hate. Others may address you in a timely way or an untimely way. They may address you with what is true or what is false. They may address you in an affectionate way or a harsh way. They may address you in a beneficial way or an unbeneficial way. They may address you with a mind of good-will or with inner hate. In any event, you should train yourselves: 'Our minds will be unaffected and we will say no evil words. We will remain sympathetic to that person's welfare, with a mind of good will, and with no inner hate. We will keep pervading him with an awareness imbued with good will and, beginning with him, we will keep pervading the entire world with an awareness imbued with good will -- abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will.' That's how you should train yourselves."
Majjhima Nikaya 21
Nothing better than patience is found.
Whoever, when strong,
to one who is weak:
that's the foremost patience.
There's no reproach for one who is strong,
guarding -- guarded by -- Dhamma.
You make things worse
when you flare up at someone who's angry.
Whoever doesn't flare up at someone who's angry
wins a battle hard to win.
You live for the good of both
-- your own, the other's --
when, knowing the other's provoked,
you mindfully grow calm.
When you work the cure of both
-- your own, the other's --
those who think you a fool
know nothing of Dhamma."
Samyutta Nikaya XI.5
"Monks, when liberation of the mind by friendliness (metta) is ardently practiced, developed, unrelentingly resorted to, used as one's vehicle, made the foundation of one's life, fully established, well consolidated and perfected, then these eleven blessings may be expected. What eleven?
One sleeps happily; one wakes happily; one does not suffer bad dreams; one is dear to human beings; one is dear to non-human beings; the gods protect one; no fire or poison or weapon harms one; one's mind gets quickly concentrated; the expression of one's face is serene; one dies unperturbed; and even if one fails to attain higher states, one will at least reach the state of the Brahma world."
Anguttara Nikaya 11.16
A Monk's Reflection - Bhikkhu Gavesako @ Buddhist Channel
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Pray for what you cannot see.
for what you can only faintly grasp.
from the core of your being.
Pray for healing.
Pray for humanity.
Pray deeply ---
pray so deeply that
the prayer and the praying
prayer - charlie elkind - september 2001
Picture by Nooone@Flickr
Friday, September 28, 2007
Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers
but to be fearless in facing them.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain
but for the heart to conquer it.
Let me not look for allies in life's battlefields
but to my own strength.
Picture by Buzia@Flickr
Thursday, September 27, 2007
O that now, when the Bardo of life is dawning upon me,
after having given up indolence - since there is no time to waste in life -
May I undistractedly enter the path of listening, reflecting and meditating,
So that having once attained human embodiment,
No time may be squandered through useless distractions.
The Bardo Thodol
Medical workers help a monk injured in clashes in Rangoon 26 Sep. 2007 (MoeMaka Media photo)
80-year-old disabled monk protester 'bashed'
Agence France-Presse, September 26, 2007
Rangoon, Burma -- At least 17 Buddhist monks were injured when Burma's security forces violently dispersed their peaceful anti-junta protest today, witnesses said.
All 17 were injured around midday when police baton-charged a group of monks and mainly young protesters near the Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar's holiest shrine, the witnesses said.
Among the wounded was an 80-year-old monk who witnesses said was beaten about the head by security forces.
The elderly monk has participated in the daily anti-junta protests in Rangoon although he cannot walk and has to be carried.
Hospital officials have refused to comment on any injuries stemming from the crackdown.
Despite the violence, tens of thousands of people remained on the streets of Yangon, scattered across the city, witnesses said.
In the outlying township of Ahlone, about 300 monks protested but were blocked by armed soldiers who began firing over their heads, witnesses said.
The monks urged the people to stay away from the protest, but when the bullets started whizzing overhead, hundreds of people sat on the ground around the monks in a show of solidarity, the witnesses said.
"I felt so sorry when I saw this scene. I've never seen this kind of violence. I feel so sorry for the monks," one woman said by telephone from Ahlone.
At the Sule Pagoda in downtown Rangoon, security forces tried to use tear gas and warning shots to disperse the crowd, but thousands kept returning to taunt the soldiers.
As the day wore on, some protesters began to throw stones at the soldiers, who responded with more warning shots, witnesses said.
At least one man was seen being carried away after he was injured when thousands of people began running from the tear gas.
Support the people of Burma. Sign an online petition today:
Support the people of Burma - AVAAZ
Beating Myanmar monks ‘greatest wrong in history’ - NLD
Agence France-Presse, Sept 26, 2007
YANGON, Myanmar -- Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party said Wednesday Myanmar's military regime had committed "the greatest wrong in history" by beating Buddhist monks.
The party led by the detained democracy icon said it had warned the government before Wednesday's protest that attacking the monks would be seen by the public as a grave crime.
"We warned the authorities in advance that if they used violence against the peaceful protest marches, they would have committed the greatest wrong in history," the party said in a statement.
"The NLD asks to hold a dialogue immediately to solve all the nation's problems peacefully," it said.
"The NLD will stand together with the people," it added.
Burmese Capital Tense after military junta crackdown - Report by Voice of America 27 Sept 2007
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
In the past, we were mind-created spiritual beings, nourished by joy. We soared through space, self-luminous and in imperishable beauty. We thus remained for long periods of time. After the passage of infinite times, the sweet-tasting earth rose from the waters. It had colour, scent and taste. We began to form it into lumps and eat it. But while we ate from it, our luminosity disappeared. And when it had disappeared, sun and moon, stars and constellations, day and night, weeks and months, seasons and years, made their appearance. We enjoyed the sweet-tasting earth, relished it, were nourished by it; and thus we lived for a long time.
But with the coarsening of the food, the bodies of beings became more and more material and differentiated, and hereupon the division of sexes came into existence, together with sensuality and attachment. But when evil, immoral customs arose among us, the sweet-tasting earth disappeared, and when it had lost its pleasant taste, outcroppings appeared on the ground, endowed with scent, colour and taste. Due to evil practises and further coarsening of the nature of living beings, even these nourishing outcroppings disappeared, and other self-originated plants deteriorated to such an extent that finally nothing edible grew by itself and food had to be produced by strenous work. The idea of "I' and "mine", "own" and "other" was created, and with it, possessions, envy, greed and enslavement to material things.
Aggana Sutta, Digha Nikaya
Picture by wisepig@Flickr
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
An appeal to pause and meditate
The monks of Burma are taking a great chance, trying to transform the brutal, deluded generals of the ruling military regime with metta (loving-kindness), quiet courage, and discipline. They have asked the people of Burma and those who support them, to meditate and pray silently in their doorways for 15 minutes at 2000 hours this Tuesday:
Can you join them?
2000 hours Rangoon time
1430 hours GMT
1030 hours New York
0630 hours Los Angeles
2030 hours Bangkok
2130 hours Kuala Lumpur/Singapore/Hong Kong
2230 hours Tokyo
Message from His Holiness The Dalai Lama
I extend my support and solidarity with the recent peaceful movement for democracy in Burma.
I fully support their call for freedom and democracy and take this opportunity to appeal to freedom-loving people all over the world to support such non-violent movements.
Moreover, I wish to convey my sincere appreciation and admiration to the large number of fellow Buddhists monks for advocating democracy and freedom in Burma.
As a Buddhist monk, I am appealing to the members of the military regime who believe in Buddhism to act in accordance with the sacred dharma in the spirit of compassion and non-violence.
I pray for the success of this peaceful movement and the early release of fellow Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
A Petition Campaign for Buddhist Solidarity with the Monks and Nuns of Burma
"Love and kindness must win over everything"
We, the Buddhists of the world, implore the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC, the official name of the military regime of Burma (Myanmar)) to refrain from taking any actions that:
Physically harm the Buddhist monks and nuns participating in the protest marches currently taking place in major cities and towns in Burma
Infiltrate the protesting groups by pretending to be monks and nuns (via having the head shaven and dressing in monks' robes) and then instigitating violence from within through such pretension
Offer poisoned foods as alms (Dana)
Arresting and beating up people or persons who offers food and water (dana) to the monks
Arresting the protesting monks and treating them like criminals, such as catching the monks by lariats and ropes, tying them up with wires and strapping them onto electrical poles, slapping their cheeks, kicking them with military boots and hitting their heads with rifle butts.
We appeal to the members of the military regime to act in accordance with the sacred Buddha-Dharma, in the spirit of loving-kindness, compassion and non-violence.
We implore the millitary regime to accede to the wishes of the common people of Burma, to establish the conditions for the flowering of justice, democracy and liberty.
We wish to convey our admiration and support to the large number of Buddhists monks and fellow Dharma practitioners for advocating democracy and freedom in Burma, and would like to appeal to all freedom-loving people all over the world to support such non-violent movements.
We pray for the success of this peace movement and the early release of Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
Myannmar Protestors hit 100,000 - Washington Post
Burmese Healthcare to stand by Sangha and Burmese people - Mizzima News is an agency run by Burmese people in exile
And here we come to the problem of our time: we have learned to master the forces of nature, but we have not yet achieved mastery over our selves, our inner life, our psychic and spiritual forces, in short, the dormant faculties of our deeper consciousness, which after all created the world in which we live and all that we have achieved in the form of manifold civilizations. These faculties permit us to see the fundamental oneness of life, the interrelatedness of all peoples and civilizations and the ultimate oneness of humanity, they even allow us our conquest over the forces of nature. Yet we do not understand these faculties.
Tibet chose to cultivate and develop these powers of inner perception, which are the very source of human culture, knowledge and achievement. Unless man is able to coordinate, unify and ultimately integrate these powers within himself and thereby become complete, how can he expect to create a harmonious and united human world? This is the way Tibetans viewed the problem of the future of humanity, a problem that now faces us on a global scale.
Amazon: Tibet in Pictures by Li Gotami and Lama Govinda
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
In the silence of those nights he began to perceive the ever-present inner sound, seemingly beginningless and endless, and he soon found that he was able to discern it throughout the day, and in many circumstances, whether quiet or busy.
He remembered that as a wonderfully pure and peaceful state, and he recalled that the sound had been very loud then, so those positive associations encouraged him to experiment and see if it might be a useful meditation object. It also seemed to be an ideal symbol, in the conditioned world of the senses, of those qualities of mind that transcend the sense realm: not subject to personal will; ever-present but only noticed if attended to; apparently beginningless and endless; formless, to some degree; and spatially unlocated.
Picture AML ® All Rights Reserved
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Only if we realize that it is in our hands to bridge the chasm of death and to determine and direct the course of our future life in such a way that we can pursue or accomplish in it what we regard our highest task, then only can we give depth and perspective to our present existence and to our spiritual aspirations.
The torn and tortured human being of our time, who knows neither of his infinite past, nor the infinity of his future, because he has lost connection with his timeless being, is like a man suffering from incurable amnesia, a mental disease which deprives him of the continuity of his consciousness and therefore of the capacity to act consistently and in accordance with his true nature. Such a man really dies, becauses he identifies himself with his momentary existence.
Directed consciousness is that which has "entered the stream" towards liberation or enlightenment, in which its universal nature is realized. Undirected consciousness allows itself to be driven hither and thither by blind urges and external sense-stimuli.
The Way of the White Clouds,
Lama Anagarika Govinda
Picture taken from: http://www.alexandra-david-neel.org
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Thursday, August 30, 2007
There is a Chinese saying that "if you want three hours of ecstasy, try gambling. For three weeks of rapture, go travelling. For three months of bliss, get married. Build a new house and you will enjoy three years of heaven. But if you want true and lasting happiness, grow and live with trees."
Much of the time we keep ourselves busy with things from the outside: friends, work, TV, shopping, and so on. We think these things are indispensable. We seek happiness from travelling, searching for delicious food, fun and excitement. But such feelings do not last.We look outward to avoid the problems inside.
People today are not happy because they cannot appreciate the good things they already have in the present. We keep looking for the happiness that lies ahead. Our heart keeps yearning for something else all the time.
The tree in our mind gets neglected. It becomes vulnerable to pests, weeds and drought. But now is the time to go back and nurture our tree.
To nurture mindfulness, to be constantly alert and awake, is to open our heart to happiness in the present. It helps our mind to reach the inner happiness, the spiritual side of us. Only then shall the wisdom arise and we will not be afraid of anything.
The tree is not afraid of the sunlight. As it grows and branches out, it can transform the sunshine into shade. Its roots are not afraid of waste, because they can transform this into nourishing food, into fragrant flowers and tasty fruit. When we look after our mind, always contemplating with mindfulness and wisdom, we will not be afraid of suffering, loss, pain and even death. We will be able to transform suffering into happiness, misfortune into a blessing. It is like the tree that can transform the heat of the sun into cooling shade, the waste into sweet fruit and flowers.
For full article, goto: True Happiness Cannot be Bought
Picture: aml®All Rights Reserved
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Everything had changed suddenly - the tone, the moral climate; you didn't know what to think, whom to listen to. As if all your life you had been led by the hand like a small child and suddenly you were on your own, you had to learn to walk by yourself. There was no one around, neither family nor people whose judgment you respected.
At such a time, you felt the need of committing yourself to something absolute - life or truth or beauty - of being ruled by it in place of the man-made rules that had been discarded. You need to surrender to some such ultimate purpose more fully, more unreservedly than you had ever done in the old familiar, peaceful days, in the old life that was abolished and gone for good.
Boris Pasternak, Dr Zhivago
Pic: Cover of Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Excerpts from Time, 3 Sept 2007, Cover Story "The Secret Life of Mother Teresa" by David Van Biema:
A decade after Mother Teresa's death, her secret letters show that she spent almost 50 years without sensing the presence of God in her life. What does her experience teach us about the value of doubt?"
"Lord, my God, who am I that you should forsake me? I call, I cling, I want - and there is no One to answer - no One on Whom I can cling - no, No ONe. - Alone... Where is my Faith - even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness and darkness - My God - how painful is this unknown pain - I have no Faith - I dare not utter the words and thoughts that crowd in my heart - and make me suffer untold agony.
So many unanswered questions live within me afraid to uncover them - beacause of the blasphemy. If there be God - please forgive me - When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven - there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my soul." Mother Teresa
There are two responses to trauma: to hold onto it in all its vividness and remain its captive, or without necessarily "conquering" it, to gradually integrate it into the day-to-day. After more than a decade of open-wound agony, Teresa seems to hae begun regaining her spiritual equilibrium with the help of a particularly perceptive adviser. The Rev. Joseph Neuner, whom she met in the late 1950s and confided in somewhat later, was already a well-known theologian, and when she turned to him with her "darkness", he seems to have told her three things she needed to hear: there was no human remedy for it (that is, she should not feel responsible for affecting it); that feeling Jesus is not the only proof of his being there, and her very craving for God was a "sure sign" of his "hidden presence" in her life; and that the absence was in fact part of the "spiritual side" of her work for Jesus.
"I accept not in my feelings - but with my will, the Will of God - I accept His will." Mother Teresa
Rev Brian Kolodiejchuk thinks that the book may act as an antidote to a cultural problem. "The tendency in our spiritual life but also inour more general attitude toward love is that our feelings are all that is going on. And so to us the totality of love is what we feel. But to really love someone requires commitment, fidelity and vulnerability. Mother Teresa wasn't 'feeling' Christ's love, and she could have shut down. But she was up at 4.30 every morning for Jesus, and still writing to him, 'Your happiness is all I want.' That's a powerful example even if you are not talking in exclusively religious terms."
Rev James Martin: "Everything she's experiencing is what average believers experience in their lives writ large. I have known scores of people who have felt abandoned by God and had doubts about God's existence. And this book (Mother Teresa: Come be my life) expresses that in such a stunning way but shows her full of complete trust at the same time."
For full article, get a copy of Time magazine 3 Sept 2007 or read online here:
Time Cover Story: Mother Teresa's Crisis of Faith
Friday, August 24, 2007
The first practice on the Buddhist path of meditation is called shamata - calm abiding or tranquility meditation. When we begin, it is a practice of mindfulness - lightly and mindfully watching our breath.
The problem with us is that our mind is nearly always distracted. When it's distracted, mind creates endless thoughts. There is nothing it will not think of or do. If we ever looked, we would see how undiscriminating we are, how often we simply allow any kinds of thoughts to come, and let ourselves get lost in it. It has become the worse of all bad habits. We have no discipline, nor any way of looking into what kind of thoughts we are thinking; whatever arises, we let it sweep us away and off into a spiral of stories and illusions, which we take so seriously we end up not only believing, but becoming as well.
Losing the clouds, Gaining the sky
Teachings by The Dalai Lama, Dudjom Rinpoche, Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche, Sogyal Rinpoche, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, and many others
Book at Amazon
Picture ® All Rights Reserved
Monday, August 20, 2007
Monday, August 13, 2007
Friday, August 10, 2007
"The question of evil, like the question of ugliness,
refers primarily to the anaesthetized heart,
the heart that has no reaction to what it faces."
James Hillman, The Thought of the Heart
BBC: Rwanda: How did the genocide happen
BBC Video Clip: Rwanda's 100 days of genocide
BBC: Children coping with genocide
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Life is as evanescent as dew on the tip of a blade of grass.
Nothing can stop death.
You might be extremely beautiful,
but you cannot seduce death.
You might be very powerful,
but you cannot hope to influence death.
Not even the most fabulous wealth will buy you a few more minutes of life.
Dying is not like a fire going out.
when you die, your consciousness has to abandon your body,
accompanied only by the karmic impressions left by your positive and negative actions.
Now that I have this great ship, a precious human life, so hard to obtain,
I must carry myself and others across the ocean of samsara.
To that end, to listen, reflect and meditate
Day and night, without distraction,
is the practice os a bodhisattva.
The Heart of Compassion,
Picture: All Rights Reserved ® aml2007
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Iraq War Medicine: Pictures by James Nachtwey
Click here to view Photo Gallery@National Geographic
Click here to read report by Neil Shea@National Geographic
Friday, July 27, 2007
Decades after Myanmar's (formerly Burma) military junta forced the Rohingyas into exile, their suffering still continues. Trapped in displacement camps, they survive on starvation rations in constant fear of abuse. "My people are rotting," despairs one refugee. The Bangladesh government classes the Rohingyas as illegal immigrants. According to the UNHCR, guards at the displacement camp are accused of forcing refugees into prostitution, extortion and stealing food. Thousands more live in slums along the Naj river without the basic protection of the U.N. "We survive by collecting leaves and boiling them," says one woman. "No-one cares about us."
Source: CNN website
Click here to watch Part 1
Click here to watch Part 2
CNN World's Untold Stories website
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Darfur, 2004 - An internally displaced woman cared for her son, sick with hepatitis E at the city hospital in Mornei, West Darfur, which was refurbished and run by MSF France.
@ Picture by James Nachtwey
Photo Essay on Poverty by James Nachtwey, pls click:
Start Slide Show@www.viiphoto.com
Monday, July 16, 2007
Video from website: Free Burma Rangers
Flwg from BBC: Nurses on the Front Line:
Nurses On The Front Line follows a group of nurses into hostile territory – and lifts the lid on one of the world’s least reported conflicts
The Karen people of Eastern Burma have endured a 60 year old conflict with the country’s military government. The European Parliament has condemned the Burmese government’s activities as ‘ethnic cleansing’. But the conflict in the mountains of Eastern Burma the size of Switzerland between the army and the Karen Resistance has gone largely unreported by the world’s media. Under cover of dense jungle and airtight press restrictions, the military government has driven an estimated 150,000 thousand of Karen and their ethnic cousins the Karenni into neighbouring Thailand. Those unwilling or unable to leave are ‘internally displaced’ – scattered through the forest, tormented by landmines and malaria.
But the Karen have not been wholly abandoned. A band of medics and aid workers– the Free Burma Rangers – deliver basic health care to Karen and Karenni civilians. Many of the Rangers are Karen themselves, trained by outfits such as Medcins sans Frontieres and American medical experts. All are volunteers, seeking a way to help their embattled people. Some have been inspirted to lend their support by bitter personal experience. An example is 34-year-old Paw Htoo – one of the nurses featured in the first programme. Thai-trained Htoo told us she joined the Rangers when government soldiers murdered her husband. But the FBR – funded by churches and private individuals – also includes foreign volunteers from the US and elsewhere.
Over four years our ….On the Front Line filmmakers went on four mercy missions with the Free Burma Rangers. In the two films we see the nurses delivering medical aid in the heart of the war zone. Theirs is not a military operation. Their purpose is simply to deliver medical care and humanitarian aid to beleaguered Karen communities. But with the forest riddled with mines and Burmese soldiers, they are every bit as dangerous as any armed incursion and secrecy on locations and even of the precise composition of the FBR missions was a condition of the filming. Such is the concern, even our crew cannot be identified in the programmes or the credits.
In the first film, going back to the very first filming mission, the Rangers establish a makeshift treatment centre deep in hostile territory. They do not lack for patients – typhoid, diarrhoea, dengue fever and malaria are rife in the region. Then they get an emergency call – a young man has stepped on a mine. The Rangers amputate, but are unable to prevent infection from setting in. The victim is distraught, knowing that for the rest of his life he’ll be a burden instead of a help to his family. “When it happened I asked the others to shoot me,” he said. “Now no one can do anything for me. From now on I won’t be able to do anything”.
The second programme follows Maw Naw, a recent recruit to the Free Burma Rangers. He finds more evidence of the army’s campaign to demoralise the Karen and depopulate their mountain homelands: a burned-out village. The Rangers can’t be everywhere at once. In their absence the villagers must be their own doctors. Maw Naw meets a man who claims to performed amputations on seven land mine victims – without anaesthetic and using a small pocket-knife. Incredibly, he says all his patients survived.
In another part of the forest, Maw Naw and the filmmakers witness the evacuation of a village. A Burmese Army patrol is spotted and the villagers flee their huts for the forest. The exodus is eerily calm – this is nothing new for the Karen. Indeed they say this is the third time in a year that they have had to leave their homes. Other refugees tell harrowing tales of forced labour, nocturnal attacks and rape.
The film ends with Mwa Naw and the crew witnessing a brief gunfight between Burma Army and Karen guerrillas. This time, all of the Karen fighters return. But their numbers are rapidly dwindling – as is Karen resistance as a whole. The Free Burma Rangers are doing their best – they estimate they have treated some 300,000 people and delivered humanitarian aid to twice that number. But many believe that without further outside assistance the Karen will follow several of Burma’s other minority groups into oblivion.
More info: BBC World
Saturday, July 07, 2007
Memory likes to play hide-and-seek, to crawl away. It tends to hold forth, to dress up, often needlessly. Memory contradicts itself; pedant that it is, it will have its way.
When pestered with questions, memory is like an onion that wishes to be peeled so we can read what is laid bare letter by letter. It is seldom unambiguous and often in mirror-writing or otherwise disguised.
Beneath its dry and crackly outer skin we find another, more moist layer, that once detached, reveals a third, beneath which a fourth and fifth wait whispering. And each skin sweats words too long muffled, and curlicue signs, as if a mystery-monger from an early age, while the onion was still germinating, had decided to encode himself.
Then ambition raises its head: this scrawl must be deciphered, that code cracked. What currently insists on truth is disproved, because Lie or her younger sister, Deception, often hands over only the most acceptable part of a memory, the part that sounds plausible on paper, and vaunts details to be as precise as a photograph: The tarpaper roof of the shed behind our building shimmered in the July heat and in the still air smelled of malt lozenges ...
The onion has many skins. A multitude of skins. Peeled, it renews itself; chopped, it brings tears; only during peeling does it speak the truth. What happened before and after the end of my childhood knocks at the door with facts and went worse than wished for and demands to be told now this way, now that, and leads to tall tales.
Peeling the Onion by Gunter Grass
Picture by dineanddish @ Flickr.com