Thursday, January 31, 2008

when you are old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,

And nodding by the fire, take down this book,

And slowly read, and dream of the soft look

Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,

And loved your beauty with love false or true,

But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,

And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,

Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled

And paced upon the mountains overhead

And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

W.B. Yeats

Picture by RozzieM@Flickr

common goal

HH Dalai Lama visits his spiritual brother's grave - Thomas Merton - in 1997. HH Dalai Lama also visits Muhammad Ali.

"In spite of different traditions, different beliefs, we all have a common aim, a common responsibility. So it is very important to use that common idea, common experience and make a common effort to reach a common goal - that is, peace, world peace, peace through inner peace..."

HH Dalai Lama

More resources:

Monastic Inter-religious Dialogue

HH Dalai Lama visits Gethsemane - Article by Amercian Catholic

The Thomas Merton Center

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

where our mind goes

"Unless we take the mind where we want it to go,
the environment will take the mind where it wants it to go."

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
Shambhala Sun

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


What do you CHOOSE to focus on?
What do you CHOOSE to pay attention to?

Monday, January 28, 2008

questions of skill

The Buddha wasn't the sort of teacher who simply answered questions. He also taught which questions to ask. He understood the power of questions: that they give shape to the holes in your knowledge and force that shape — valid or not — onto the answers you hope will fill up those holes. Even if you use right information to answer a wrong question, it can take on the wrong shape. If you then use that answer as a tool, you're sure to apply it to the wrong situations and end up with the wrong results.

That's why the Buddha was careful to map out a science of questions, showing which questions — in what order — lead to freedom, and which ones don't. At the same time, he gave his talks in a question-and-answer format, to make perfectly clear the shape of the questions he was answering.

So if you're looking to his teaching for answers and want to get the most out of them, you should first be clear about what questions you're bringing to it, and check to see if they're in line with the questions the teachings were meant to address. That way your answers won't lead you astray.

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Read more: Questions of Skill

Further readings:
An Interview with Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Audio Teachings by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

"Wings to Awakening" by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Iranian couple cycles for peace

An Iranian couple, Somayeh (Nasim) Yousefi and Jafar Edrisi, cycles around the world for peace and environmental conservation.

Read more: Cycle for Peace Blog

Watch video at CNN: Cycling for Peace - CNN

Thursday, January 24, 2008

i don't want to say goodbye

I don’t want to say goodbye
Let the stars shine through
I don’t want to say goodbye
All I want to do is live with you

Just like the light of the morning
After the darkness has gone
The shadow of my love is falling
On a place where the sun always shines
Don’t you know that’s where our hearts both belong?

"I Don't Want To Say Goodbye" by Terry Thompson

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Way of the Bodhisattva

The Bodhicharyavatara was composed by the Indian scholar Shantideva, renowned in Tibet as one of the most reliable of teachers.

The principal focus of Mahayana teachings is on cultivating a mind wishing to benefit other sentient beings. With an increase in our own sense of peace and happiness, we will naturally be better able to contribute to the peace and happiness of others. Transforming the mind and cultivating a positive, altruistic and responsible attitude is beneficial right now. Whatever problems and difficulties we may have, we can thereby face them with courage, calmness and high spirits.Therefore, it is also the very root of happiness for many lives to come.

Foreword by HH The 14th Dalai Lama
in The Way of the Bodhisattva

"All the joy the world contains
Has come through wishing happiness for others.
All the misery the world contains
Has come through wanting pleasure for oneself."

Taken from Chapter 8 Verse 129 in The Way of the Bodhisattva

Other resources:
Bodhisattva Mind: Teachings to Cultivate Courage and Awareness in the Midst of Suffering @ Audio Teachings by Pema Chodron at
The 37 Bodhisattva Practices

Friday, January 18, 2008

new lands

One does not discover news lands
without consenting to lose sight of the shore
for a very long time.

Andre Gide

Picture by:

Thursday, January 17, 2008

silence and surprise

Why silence? Silence creates a rare opportunity to pause and drop into stillness, to become intimate with your own mind. So often we have things to do, places to be, people to see. In our busy lives, our minds are full and reactive. When we start the journey to attune to our own minds by pausing into stillness, we enter a new realm of experience that can produce surprise in each moment.

One surprise is that the mind is never "empty". It is an oft stated and apparent misconception that the meditative mind becomes a vacuum of activity. The mind is a busy bee flitting around its neural hive. Some approach silence thinking that their minds will soon be empty only to find just the opposite to be true.

As the stillness permits the mind to "settle", it becomes possible to be aware of the subtleties in the fine structures of the mind's functions. Stillness is not the same as a void in activity, it's more like a STABILIZING STRENGTH.

Another surprise is to experience the transient ever-changing nature of the activity of the mind. When busy in the chatter of daily life, our thoughts and feelings can take on an air of solidity and permanence that hides their true effervescent nature. With stillness, it becomes possible to peel away this surface solidity to reveal the cloudlike vaporous quality of mental activity.

Yet another surprise is the ways in which distinct streams of awareness intermix to create the texture of awareness in the moment. The terms quality of awareness or nature of awareness reveal that awareness itself changes from moment to moment.

If we state that the quality of awareness in this moment is murky, how are we aware of awareness? Can we have a clear awareness of a murky quality of awareness? Metaprocesses like these, like meta-awareness, give rise to the name of our species, Homo sapiens, sapiens: The Knowing, knowing ones. We know that we know. (Kabat-Zinn, 2003b)

Taken from: The Mindful Brain - Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being by Daniel J. Siegel

More Resources:

Insight Meditation Society
The Maha-Satipatthana Sutta
University of Massachusetts Medical School - Center for Mindfulness
Wherever you go, there you are - Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Zen Brain Reflections by James Austin

Picture by:

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


The Dhammapada opens with a clear assertion that the mind is the forerunner of all that we are, the maker of our character, the creator of our destiny. The entire Buddhist discipline, from basic morality to the attainment of arahantship, hinges upon training the mind. A wrongly directed mind brings greater harm than any enemy; a rightly directed mind brings greater good than any relative or friend (vv. 42-43). The mind is unruly, fickle difficult to subdue, but by effort, mindfulness and self-discipline, one can master the mind, escape the flood of passions, and find "an island which no flood can overwhelm" (v. 25). The person who conquers himself, the victor over his own mind, achieves a conquest that can never be undone, a victory greater than that of the mightiest warriors (vv. 103-105).

What is needed most to train and subdue the mind, according to the Dhammapada, is a quality called HEEDFULNESS (appamada). Heedfulness combines critical self-awareness and unremitting energy in a process of constant self-observation in order to detect and expel the defilements whenever they seek an opportunity to come to the surface. In a world where we have no savior except ourselves, and where the means to deliverance lies in mental purification, heedfulness becomes the crucial factor for ensuring that we keep straight to the path of training without deviating due to the seductive lure of sense pleasures or the stagnating influences of laziness and complacency. The Buddha declares that heedfulness is the path to the Deathless, and heedlessness the path to death. The wise who understand this distinction abide in heedfulness and attain Nibbana, "the incomparable freedom from bondage" (vv. 21-23).

Bhikkhu Bodhi

More readings:
The Living Message of the Dhammapada

The Dhammapada

What Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula @ Amazon

Friday, January 11, 2008


If the doors of perception were cleansed
every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.

For man has closed himself up,
till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.

William Blake

Picture by Mr.Mark@Flickr

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Tibetan Book of the Dead

The DVD is available on YouTube.

Part 1a

Part 1b

Part 1c

Part 1d

Part 1e

meditation on death

The Buddha said, “Of all the footprints, that of the elephant is supreme. Similarly, of all mindfulness meditation, that on death is supreme.” Death awareness meditations allow us to more deeply comprehend that we will die. In the Buddhist tradition, death awareness practices are divided into four categories: 1) Meditations to help us contemplate that death is inevitable, that the time of our death is uncertain, and that our bodies and our lives are both impermanent and fragile; 2) meditations to help us understand the process of dying and visualize the body’s physiologic systems shutting down as our body dies; 3) meditations to help us understand and visualize the decomposition of the physical body during the days, weeks, months and years following our physical death; and 4) meditations concerned with consciousness transfer at the time of death and the process of rebirth into our next cycle of existence. Consciousness transfer refers to the ability to influence our rebirth by controlling the mind at the time of death.

To someone unfamiliar with these practices, an initial reaction might be perplexity or apprehension. Why devote time and energy reminding myself that I will die, rehearsing what the dying process may be like, and envisioning what happens to my body after I die? We might assume that being more conscious of death would make us fearful of dying or depressed about living. Yet according to the Buddha, it is awareness of death that helps us wake up from the delusion that causes so much suffering in this life. Keeping death always at our side dispels the myth that we might live forever. Death awareness is really about living. It is about becoming more intimate with the truth of our lives. It is about realizing that every moment counts, that what we choose to think and say and do is important. Awareness of our death calls us to live in a more meaningful way, in accordance with our most authentic values.

When we contemplate death in this way, we understand it not only in our mind but also in our body and our heart. This is intuitive knowledge. It naturally blossoms into wisdom. As wisdom increasingly informs our life, we become happier and more peaceful beings. We give and receive love more freely. We are motivated to act with kindness, and to respond with compassion to the suffering of others. Although gradual, there is a certain inner transformation that influences our relationships, our families, our communities, and our world. As the Buddha reminds us, “Life is as fleeting as a rainbow, a flash of lightning, a star at dawn. Knowing this, how can you quarrel?”

Awareness of death also increases our commitment to spiritual practice, precisely because we are acutely aware that our lifespan is both indefinite and finite. This phenomenon, known as samvega in Pali, is translated into English as “spiritual urgency.” Larry Rosenberg describes samvega in his book Living in the Light of Death:

“The urgent need to practice…can grow out of a heightened sense of the perishable nature of life. It can include a real feeling of shock and a sense not only that life doesn’t last forever but also that the way we have been living is wrong. It might turn our world upside down, sending us off to a whole new way of life. Even if it doesn’t have so dramatic an effect, it can light a fire under our practice. We get much less caught up in power, prestige, money, lust, the acquisition of goods. Dharma teachings start to make real sense to us, and we begin to live them instead of just assenting intellectually. Samvega leads to a conversion of the heart, from an egocentric existence to a search for that which is timeless, vast, and sacred.”

Taken from: Tricycle - Helping our children understand death

You may also want to read: Buddhist Reflections on Death by V.F. Gunaratna

Another recommended reading: Tibetan Book of the Dead - electronic version

Or you can purchase your own copy: Tibetan Book of the Dead @ Amazon

Picture by f_lynx@Flickr

Saturday, January 05, 2008

form and emptiness

One day, Tesshu, the famous swordsman and Zen devotee, went to Dokuon and told him triumphantly he believed all that exists is empty, there is no you or me, etc. The master who had listened in silence suddenly snatched up his long tobacco pipe and struck Tesshu's head.

The infuriated swordsman would have killed the master there and then, but Dukuon said calmly, "Emptiness is quick to show anger, isn't it?

Forcing a smile, Tesshu left the room.

Zen: Poems, Prayers, Sermons, Anecdotes and Interviews,
translated by Lucien Stryk and Takashi Ikemoto

Picture from:

Thursday, January 03, 2008

no me

The more there is a 'me', the more there is someone to suffer.
'Me' is the name of our resistance to life,
of our constant angling for satisfaction.
It is precisely that 'me' which fears death,
The idea of being someone
with something to lose -
attributes, reputation, family, security, safe territory.
Who is the 'me' that is suffering?
Who dies?

Stephen Levine

Picture by kyomissu@Flickr

what remains undisclosed

'I have occasionally described my standpoint to my friends as the "narrow ridge".
I wanted by this to express that I did not rest on the broad upland of a system that includes a series of sure statements about the absolute, but on a narrow rocky ridge between the gulfs where there is no sureness of expressible knowledge
but the certainty of meeting what remains undisclosed.'

Martin Buber, Between Man and Man

Picture by rjseg1@Flickr

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


The realization of Nibbana comes with the blossoming of wisdom and brings perfect peace, untarnished happiness, and the stilling of the mind's compulsive drives.

Bhikkhu Bodhi

Picture by hkmadman@Flickr