Tuesday, February 26, 2008

To my friend, Elly

Though our friendship had been short, i will never forget your kindness and your generosity.. You have lived your life with so much gusto and you showed us true courage, right to the very end. I have nothing but admiration for you. Though we will soon bid our final farewell, we will always remember you, and you will always have a special place in our hearts. This one is for you, my friend:

"This quiet time of day
my stilled vision sends soundless chants
to the Sacred, in whose luminousness the original one
saw the form of the gods.
If the sounds of the oldest mantras were in my voice,
my hymns would vanish in this translucent light, light.
No words. No words.
I see into the distance where edges dissolve
my silence as a canopy in the white blueness of noon sky."

R. Tagore - Final Poems

Picture by: Bruce Diksas @ Flickr

Monday, February 25, 2008

wandering on

Samsara literally means "wandering-on." Many people think of it as the Buddhist name for the place where we currently live — the place we leave when we go to nibbana. But in the early Buddhist texts, it's the answer, not to the question, "Where are we?" but to the question, "What are we doing?" Instead of a place, it's a process: the tendency to keep creating worlds and then moving into them. As one world falls apart, you create another one and go there. At the same time, you bump into other people who are creating their own worlds, too.

In addition to creating suffering for ourselves, the worlds we create feed off the worlds of others, just as theirs feed off ours. In some cases the feeding may be mutually enjoyable and beneficial, but even then the arrangement has to come to an end. More typically, it causes harm to at least one side of the relationship, often to both. When you think of all the suffering that goes into keeping just one person clothed, fed, sheltered, and healthy — the suffering both for those who have to pay for these requisites, as well as those who have to labor or die in their production — you see how exploitative even the most rudimentary process of world-building can be.

This is why the Buddha tried to find the way to stop samsara-ing. Once he had found it, he encouraged others to follow it, too. Because samsara-ing is something that each of us does, each of us has to stop it him or her self alone. If samsara were a place, it might seem selfish for one person to look for an escape, leaving others behind. But when you realize that it's a process, there's nothing selfish about stopping it at all. It's like giving up an addiction or an abusive habit. When you learn the skills needed to stop creating your own worlds of suffering, you can share those skills with others so that they can stop creating theirs. At the same time, you'll never have to feed off the worlds of others, so to that extent you're lightening their load as well.

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Picture by: JRH43@Flickr.com

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Vow of the Bodhisattva

The principle that there is no distinction between doctrine and practice constitutes the basis of all Buddhist thought, no matter how much it may be lost in sectarian Buddhist ideas.

The Buddhist spiritual experience will reveal itself neither to the scholar nor to the conversationalist, but only to the man or woman who makes the central conceptions of Buddhist thought the basis of their mental activity, the subject of their deepest meditation, and the foundation of all their actions.

Every scriptural point is valid only to the extent that we engage it, embody it in our own learning and experience, upon the road to awakening.

Neither the nature nor the reality of the Bodhisattva Sangha, the grand fraternity which devotes its entire effort with one mind, one will and one over-riding thought, to the welfare and liberation of all beings, can be grasped by other means except by attunement to one's inner nature and nurture by a full joy and natural awe before the idea that there is no human aim higher than to understand the truth.

I know that every sacred pledge should be the result of deep thought and true feeling, and I will later reflect in silence, enriched by contemplation, and carry this pledge over into daily manifestation.

I know that there is no external fount to which I direct that pledge.

Thus I direct that pledge not to human creatures or an external being, but to the Buddha-nature that is being awakened within me.

I know that the essential nobility, the germ of Buddhahood is within myself, and will dissolve any mental inhibiting view of myself that masks that nobility and will help all others to do so.

I know that this pledge can be taken by anyone at any time, but the level of thought and intensity with which it is taken will determine the force and reliability of its execution.

To be able to take one's place in the glorious company of Bodhisattvas is not to assume that one can, purely on one's own, fulfil this exalted aim. But once one has truly affirmed it, no other aim has any comparable significance.

The Liberation of All Sentient Creatures

Although I pledge to save every being, I recognise what the Buddha declared, that there are no individual sentient beings to be saved.

Thus I understand that I must develop a view of the essential unity of all things and must see that unity reflected in every apparently separate living creature.

I understand that while I see fragmented consciousness on the worldly plane, due to the fragmentation of my own consciousness, I will look yet more profoundly and see the thread that unites all consciousness.

I understand that the apparent individualized consciousness reflected in the individual natures is the universal consciousness of all things.

I understand that the Bodhisattva recognising the higher within himself thereby recognises the higher within others.

The Unattainable

I understand that the ideal of helping all sentient creatures is an ideal that cannot ever be fully attained and yet I will throw my whole being into its achievement.

I will see my Bodhisattva pledge as a pledge to carry the flame of the truth of the Dharma and to transmit that flame to all who are ready to receive. Thus one day all may be liberated. This is my pledge to save all sentient creatures.

While alive I will recognise of the connection between the moment of birth and the moment of death, of the intimate relationship between the pain of one human being and the sorrow of all humanity.


I understand that the prospect of such a vow is naturally perplexing to the lower mind, which is almost totally ignorant of the priorities of the true nature and knows very little about this life.

I know that if this pledge is taken prematurely, lacking this sense of necessity, it will precipitate difficulties, generate a sense of culpability with transgression, generate tortured anxiety about the nature of my personal path, involve futile comparisons and contrasts with other human beings, make me feel isolated and alone. But out of all these Mara generated experiences there will come a future ripeness.

I know that those who have well traveled the Bodhisattva path, who have taken the vow again and again, know that soon after one has made such an affirmation, one is going to be tested. I shall overcome.


I perceive that my own true interest and liberation is bound up in serving others to the utmost, and I will develop the supreme wisdom to know at any given time, in any particular context, what the true self-interest of another is.

I perceive that living correctly in accord with the Dharma as a Bodhisattva, is doubtless the noblest endeavour conceivable for any human being anywhere on earth in the past present or the future.

I perceive that the Bodhisattva is more than a human creature with a generous heart. It is the becoming of an ideal. Thus the potential life of others can be reflected in me. My Buddha-nature is to be found in every man and universal brotherhood must by my behaviour be seen to be attainable by every human creature that is aware.

I perceive that this ideal is not imposed as an idea. The Bodhisattva state is a natural state within each human creature which has been covered with a blanket of Ignorance. I shall remove that blanket of ignorance.

I perceive that I must look for the potential virtue and correctness in others, and see that there does exist so much potential for the common good in others, that I will be capable of handling judgements of their limitations.

I perceive that it is important not to forget our true human heritage, our real nature and, thus, will travel securely upon the Eightfold Path, free from the pressures of social and personal relationships.


I understand that there is another kind of suffering, both more tragic and nobler. It is the suffering for others. I see that I must helplessly observe countless humans destroy themselves and one another, committing useless acts of physical and psychological violence, yet find no individual fault in them.

I know that the Bodhisattva is imperfect and suffers frustration, but I must stand and watch this, and not be caught into egoistic suffering.

I know that I must stand as witness to seemingly perpetual personal degradation and yet see the untouched purity of our Buddha-nature.


I know that I must live in this world, seeking the true interest of every sentient creature, in detachment from clinging and craving the world of the senses.

I know that the Bodhisattva path requires the sacrifice of Identity, beginning with universal mind and ending with the smallest element of existence. This sacrifice and compassion is the same thing.

Every word and each day is like an incarnation. Thus I will allow myself to be reborn in wisdom each second with my mind always open and receptive to the dharma.

The Recognition of the Bodhisattva Pledge

I recognise that a human being with a wavering mind and a fickle heart may utter this pledge, but I will authentically affirm it in the name of my true Buddha-nature. Thus I will develop the full potency of this pledge and practice restraint and thereby established a high degree of reliability in my life and human relationships.

I recognise the power of this pledge and seek its realisation, but know that failure carries no guilt or shame, it carries even stronger resolution after apparent failure to succeed, forgetting the folly of the past.

I recognise the possibility of failure and the possibility of forgetfulness, but somewhere deep in myself I wish to be measured and tested by this pledge.

I recognise that this pledge is unconditional, and releases the spiritual will, and with it brings my highest self-respect and respect for others who have taken this pledge. I will open my wisdom-seeking mind, the seed of awakening.

I recognise that a drop of water is no different than the ocean and that a candle flame is no different than the sun; the small mirrors the large.

Thus, my pledge mirrors the vibrant pledge of all Bodhisattvas. Thus offered, it is powerful and supreme.

I recognise that persons with greater wisdom than myself have taken precisely such a vow and have affirmed this pledge time and time again. Therefore, with this pledge I am, however frail, however feeble, a part of the family of those who are the self-chosen, united with all unknown but unvanquished friends of the human race and members of the noble family.

Bodhisattva Qualities

I will make many discoveries upon this Bodhisattva path, but the hardest lesson to learn is patience and persistence. This is a pledge in favour of selfless service, and it cannot ever be premature. It will develop that patience and persistence.

I know that inexhaustible are the ways of compassion of wise beings. True Compassion cannot really be weighed or measured.

I will reject mundane compassion and develop the true Compassion that is not pity, empathy, or sorrow for others, but an enlightened application of the energy of Compassion that is understanding and joyful in the intention to help others help themselves.

I will develop the true Benevolence that is not social charity or hedonistic giving, but a giving in which there is a sacrifice of my own Identity as a giver.

I will develop that Benevolent love also in my capacity to receive without the Identity of a receiver, because I know that sometimes it is difficult to know how to receive both the Benevolence and Compassion of others.

I will develop true Happiness that is selfless and comes from within, being unaffected by the world of the senses. Thus the aura of constant well-being will surround me..

I will develop a true Equanimity in front of criticism and assaults upon both my apparent body and mind.

I will develop a true Equanimity in the face of praise and rewards.

I will develop Equanimity, which is not Intellectual indifference.

Thus if someone helps me or harms me may I regard that person as my best teacher.

I will remain constantly aware that all creatures feel pain and that human creatures suffer, though many do not see that suffering in the false happiness of the senses that they experience. Thus I will help all, being tolerant of human imperfections and lack of vision.

I will develop true introspection, free critical enquiry and growth for the benefit of all sentient creatures.

I will develop the wisdom to see through false worldly differences based upon Duality, such as capable versus inept, physical versus mental, the intelligent versus the unintelligent or self versus others. I will develop Prajna as the "non-discriminating mind," where the clinging to the dual notion of self and other objects is absent.

The Affirmation of the Bodhisattva Pledge

I commit myself to correct Attitudes with Joy, correct Intentions with Compassion, correct Actions with Benevolent love, and Equanimity with Bliss for the welfare of all beings and will gradually establish myself in the practice of a Bodhisattva.

I will not violate the purity of this faultless, noble Family.

Everywhere and always will I live and strive for the liberation of every creature throughout the world from the bonds of conditioned existence.

Everywhere and always I will respect the abundance of nature, both animals and other life forms, observing the natural law of the Dharma as a guardian without seeking dominance.

The Sugatas of former times committed themselves to the Bodhisattva path, gradually establishing themselves in the practice of a Bodhisattva. So, I too commit myself to growth upon this path for the welfare of all beings and will gradually establish myself in the practice of a Bodhisattva.

I pledge union in the Bodhisattva Sangha as a son/daughter of the Buddha. My birth as a human being has become fruitful and justified, joined with all sentient beings in the light of the Dharma.

This I pledge before all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, past, present, and future.

Taken from: Fording the Stream: An Affirmation of the Bodhisattva Way of Life by Ven Dharmakara Boda, The Buddhist Channel, Feb 23, 2008

1. Shantideva Society a non-sectarian association established by the regents of the Mahabodhi Sunyata Seminario de Espana and the lineage holders of the Chinese Madhyamika tradition in Tarragona, Spain.

Embracing the Bodhisattva Dharma as a means in and of itself, the members of the Shantideva Society are dedicated to the realization of the Bodhisattva spirit as it existed within the early Buddhist community and the development of that spirit through the teachings of Acharya Shantideva, the author of the Bodhicaryavatara.

The Bodhisattva spirit is an inclusive, life-affirming spirit which transcends not only ethnicity, gender, and the cultural variations of practice, but one which transcends Buddhism, as the Bodhisattva spirit can recognize the appropriateness to be found in the practices and traditions of other faiths that are inclusive and life-affirming.

2. Bodhisattva Vows

Picture from Buddhist Channel

Friday, February 22, 2008


We all know what happens when a fire goes out. The flames die down and the fire is gone for good. So when we first learn that the name for the goal of Buddhist practice, nibbana (nirvana), literally means the extinguishing of a fire, it's hard to imagine a deadlier image for a spiritual goal: utter annihilation. It turns out, though, that this reading of the concept is a mistake in translation, not so much of a word as of an image. What did an extinguished fire represent to the Indians of the Buddha's day? Anything but annihilation.

According to the ancient Brahmans, when a fire was extinguished it went into a state of latency. Rather than ceasing to exist, it became dormant and in that state — unbound from any particular fuel — it became diffused throughout the cosmos. When the Buddha used the image to explain nibbana to the Indian Brahmans of his day, he bypassed the question of whether an extinguished fire continues to exist or not, and focused instead on the impossibility of defining a fire that doesn't burn: thus his statement that the person who has gone totally "out" can't be described.

However, when teaching his own disciples, the Buddha used nibbana more as an image of freedom. Apparently, all Indians at the time saw burning fire as agitated, dependent, and trapped, both clinging and being stuck to its fuel as it burned. To ignite a fire, one had to "seize" it. When fire let go of its fuel, it was "freed," released from its agitation, dependence, and entrapment — calm and unconfined. This is why Pali poetry repeatedly uses the image of extinguished fire as a metaphor for freedom. In fact, this metaphor is part of a pattern of fire imagery that involves two other related terms as well. Upadana, or clinging, also refers to the sustenance a fire takes from its fuel. Khandha means not only one of the five "heaps" (form, feeling, perception, thought processes, and consciousness) that define all conditioned experience, but also the trunk of a tree. Just as fire goes out when it stops clinging and taking sustenance from wood, so the mind is freed when it stops clinging to the khandhas.

Thus the image underlying nibbana is one of freedom. The Pali commentaries support this point by tracing the word nibbana to its verbal root, which means "unbinding." What kind of unbinding? The texts describe two levels. One is the unbinding in this lifetime, symbolized by a fire that has gone out but whose embers are still warm. This stands for the enlightened arahant, who is conscious of sights and sounds, sensitive to pleasure and pain, but freed from passion, aversion, and delusion. The second level of unbinding, symbolized by a fire so totally out that its embers have grown cold, is what the arahant experiences after this life. All input from the senses cools away and he/she is totally freed from even the subtlest stresses and limitations of existence in space and time.

The Buddha insists that this level is indescribable, even in terms of existence or nonexistence, because words work only for things that have limits. All he really says about it — apart from images and metaphors — is that one can have foretastes of the experience in this lifetime, and that it's the ultimate happiness, something truly worth knowing.

So the next time you watch a fire going out, see it not as a case of annihilation, but as a lesson in how freedom is to be found in letting go.

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Mind Like Fire Unbound by Thanissaro Bhikku

The Fire Sermon – Samyutta Nikaya 35:28

Picture by: RSH84@Flickr

Thursday, February 21, 2008

mental strengths

The Canon lists these mental strengths at five: conviction, persistence, mindfulness, concentration, and discernment. It also emphasizes the role that heedfulness plays in developing each, for heedfulness is what enables each strength to counteract a particular delusion that makes fear unskillful, and the mind weak in the face of its fears. What this means is that none of these strengths are mere brute forces. Each contains an element of wisdom and discernment, which gets more penetrating as you progress along the list.

Of the five strengths, conviction requires the longest explanation, both because it's one of the most misunderstood and under-appreciated factors in the Buddhist path, and because of the multiple delusions it has to counteract.

The conviction here is conviction in the principle of karma: that the pleasure and pain we experience depends on the quality of the intentions on which we act. This conviction counteracts the delusion that "It's not in my best interest to stick to moral principles in the face of danger," and it attacks this delusion in three ways.

First, it insists on what might be called the "boomerang" or "spitting into the wind" principle of karmic cause and effect. If you act on harmful intentions, regardless of the situation, the harm will come back to you. Even if unskillful actions such as killing, stealing, or lying might bring short-term advantages, these are more than offset by the long-term harm to which they leave you exposed.

Conversely, this same principle can make us brave in doing good. If we're convinced that the results of skillful intentions will have to return to us even if death intervenes, we can more easily make the sacrifices demanded by long-term endeavors for our own good and that of others. Whether or not we live to see the results in this lifetime, we're convinced that the good we do is never lost. In this way, we develop the courage needed to build a store of skillful actions — generous and virtuous — that forms our first line of defense against dangers and fear.

Second, conviction insists on giving priority to your state of mind above all else, for that's what shapes your intentions. This counteracts the corollary to the first delusion: "What if sticking to my principles makes it easier for people to do me harm?" This question is based ultimately on the delusion that life is our most precious possession. If that were true, it would be a pretty miserable possession, for it heads inexorably to death. Conviction views our life as precious only to the extent that it's used to develop the mind, for the mind — when developed — is something that no one, not even death, can harm. "Quality of life" is measured by the quality and integrity of the intentions on which we act, just as "quality time" is time devoted to the practice. Or, in the Buddha's words:

Better than a hundred years
lived without virtue, uncentered, is
one day
lived by a virtuous person
absorbed in jhana.
— Dhp 110

Third, conviction insists that the need for integrity is unconditional. Even though other people may throw away their most valuable possession — their integrity — it's no excuse for us to throw away ours. The principle of karma isn't a traffic ordinance in effect only on certain hours of the day or certain days of the week. It's a law operating around the clock, around the cycles of the cosmos.

Some people have argued that, because the Buddha recognized the principle of conditionality, he would have no problem with the idea that our virtues should depend on conditions as well. This is a misunderstanding of the principle. To begin with, conditionality doesn't simply mean that everything is changeable and contingent. It's like the theory of relativity. Relativity doesn't mean that all things are relative. It simply replaces mass and time — which long were considered constants — with another, unexpected constant: the speed of light. Mass and time may be relative to a particular inertial frame, as the frame relates to the speed of light, but the laws of physics are constant for all inertial frames, regardless of speed.

In the same way, conditionality means that there are certain unchanging patterns to contingency and change — one of those patterns being that unskillful intentions, based on craving and delusion, invariably lead to unpleasant results.

If we learn to accept this pattern, rather than our feelings and opinions, as absolute, it requires us to become more ingenious in dealing with danger. Instead of following our unskillful knee-jerk reactions, we learn to think outside the box to find responses that best prevent harm of any kind. This gives our actions added precision and grace.

At the same time, we have to note that the Buddha didn't teach conditionality simply to encourage acceptance for the inevitability of change. He taught it to show how the patterns underlying change can be mastered to create an opening that leads beyond conditionality and change. If we want to reach the unconditioned — the truest security — our integrity has to be unconditional, a gift of temporal security not only to those who treat us well, but to everyone, without exception. As the texts say, when you abstain absolutely from doing harm, you give a great gift — freedom from danger to limitless beings — and you yourself find a share in that limitless freedom as well.


Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Metta Forest Monastery is a meditation monastery in the lineage of the Thai Forest Tradition. Founded in 1990 by Ajaan Suwat Suvaco, it is currently headed by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Ajaan Geoff). The monastery is situated near Valley Center, California, at the end of a road in an avocado orchard surrounded by the mountains and chaparral of northern San Diego County. It provides the opportunity for men to ordain as bhikkhus and to train in line with the Dhamma-Vinaya as maintained in the Theravada tradition. It also welcomes interested lay men and lay women to visit and practice the Buddha’s teachings.

Thanissaro Bhikkhu's Audio Teachings
More Audio Teachings by Thanissaro Bhikkhu Here

Picture by: pati b @ Flickr

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The delight of dana

Exactly what is dana?

How do we cultivate this quality of giving, generosity, liberality and of the word dana. It is the quality of generosity that gives physically and from the heart. Hearts with dana are generous, open-handed, and liberal in terms of willingness to give, share, to be present and to help. All of those qualities take us away from me and my needs, me and my necessities, me and my demands, me and my expectations, me and my universe. That me and mine position which demands that we be recognized and noted for our importance, takes over everything. It all gets very tiring.

Ajahn Sumedho has said, “Whenever I think of myself, I feel depressed.” It’s such a great line. When dana is the center of life, instead of me and my needs, there is no need to be depressed. There is relief and release rather than anxiety and obsession.

Dana is a dramatically different focal point.

The perspective changes to “What can I give?”


Taken from a talk given by Phra Ajahn Pasanno

Picture by: cazbo @ Flickr

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

who we really are

When we are contemplating the Dhamma, the teaching of the Buddha, it is very skilful to question what a personality really is: the sense of our own separateness, individuality, the perception of ourselves as a person that's separate from the rest. Nowadays people are beginning to understand more and more about the nature of consciousness, but although it is an experience that we all have, it is probably the least understood. Scientists are studying consciousness, trying to find a physical base for it. Is it in the brain? What is it?... but it's like trying to find our real self. The more we try to find out who we really are, the more we seem to be going in circles or chasing after shadows; we can't really get hold of anything for very long and it vanishes.
Read more

Who We Really Are
From Forest Sangha Newsletter, October 1996, Number 38
Ajahn Sumedho

Abhayagiri Monastery

Picture by: Vikalpa@Flickr

Monday, February 11, 2008

life after life

Unending Love

I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times...
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,
That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,
In life after life, in age after age, forever.

Whenever I hear old chronicles of love, it's age old pain,
It's ancient tale of being apart or together.
As I stare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge,
Clad in the light of a pole-star, piercing the darkness of time.
You become an image of what is remembered forever.

You and I have floated here on the stream that brings from the fount.
At the heart of time, love of one for another.
We have played along side millions of lovers,
Shared in the same shy sweetness of meeting,
the distressful tears of farewell,
Old love but in shapes that renew and renew forever.

Rabindranath Tagore

Collection of poems by Tagore with music by Enya:

Picture: All Rights Reserved ® aml.2007

Sunday, February 10, 2008

i dreamt

I dreamt that she sat by my head,
tenderly ruffling my hair with her fingers,
playing the melody of her touch.

I looked at her face and struggled with my tears,
till the agony of unspoken words burst my sleep like a bubble.

I sat up and saw the glow of the Milky Way above my window,
like a world of silence on fire,
and I wondered if at this moment
she had a dream that rhymed with mine.

Rabindranath Tagore

Picture: All Rights Reserved ® aml.2007

Saturday, February 09, 2008

last curtain

I know that the day will come
when my sight of this earth will be lost,
and life will take its leave in silence,
drawing the last curtain over my eyes.

Yet stars will watch at night,
and morning rise as before,
and hours heave like sea waves casting up pleasures and pains.

When I think of this end of my moments,
the barrier of the moment breaks
and I see by the light of death
thy world with its careless treasures.
Rare is its lowliest seat,
rare is its meanest of lives.

Things that I longed for in vain
and things that I got
--- let them pass.
Let me but truly possess
the things that I ever spurned
and overlooked.

Rabindranath Tagore

Picture: All Rights Reserved ® aml.2008

Thursday, February 07, 2008


In the external world where our body moves and has its life we are not free. We have to obey the laws of nature, the laws of God, or we suffer; and it is the task of our intellect gradually to discover those laws. But there is our little world of inner life. Here we have limited freedom, but we are free enough to deny the light and even to deny God. Here in our inner world there is something which is not bound by the laws of nature, by the laws of time and space. In the inmost of our soul there is the world of the Spirit and the world of the Spirit is free: "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." But the more we deny the Spirit of the Lord, our Atman, our own Self, the more are we bound. We could live in the centre of our soul and thus feel the infinite joy of the Brahman, but instead of yearning towards the centre we make infinite centres of selfishness in the circumference of our souls. The farther those centres are from the Centre, the farther we are from the light: selfishness becomes stronger and stronger, the chains that bind us and which we so laboriously make with our THOUGHTS and WORKS are more and more difficult to break.

The Truth of the Spirit is not found by the arguing of philosophical or metaphysical questions. How can we ask a question about something so near at hand? It is as if we were asking if we were alive; and in fact we might well ask this question since so much of our life is mere vegetable or animal life. We know that we are alive, but not alive to the Highest Life. If, however, we are tempted to argue abou the supreme problems, forgetting the words of Indian wisdom that "Those things which are beyond thought should not be subject to argument" and that "When we can argue about a thing it shows that it is not worth arguing about", we may listen to the word of the Buddha:

"Imagine a man that has been pierced by an arrow well soaked in poison, and his relatives and friends go at once to fetch a physician or doctor. Imagine now that this man says: 'I will not have this arrow pulled out until I know the name of the man who shot it, and the name of his family, and whether he is tall or short or of medium height; until I know whether he is black or dark or yellow; until I know his village or town. i will not have the arrow pulled out until I know about the bow that shot it, whether it was a long bow or a cross bow.

I will not have this arrow pulled out until I know about the bow-string, and the arrow, and the feathers of the arrow, whether they are feathers of vulture, or kite or peacock....................

Well, that man would die, but he woudl die without having found out all those things.

In the same way, any one who would say: 'I will not follow the holy life of Buddha until he tells me whether the world is eternal or not; whether the life and the body are two things, or one thing; whether the one who has reached the Goal is beyond death or not; whether he is both beyond death and not beyond death; whether he is neither beyond death nor is not beyond death.

Well, that man would die, but he would die without Buddha having told these things.

Because I am one who says: Whether the world is eternal or not, there is birth, and death, and suffering, and woe, and lamentation and despair. And what I do teach is the means that lead to the destruction of these things. Remember therefore that what I have said, I have said; and that what I have not said, I have not said. And why have I not given an answer to these questions? Because these questions are not profitable, they are not a principle of the holy life, they lead not to peace, to supreme wisdom, to Nirvana." (Majjhima Nikaya)

Juan Mascaro in the Introduction to "The Upanishads", Penguin Classics

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

ineffable calm

The evening was lonely for me,
and i was reading a book till my heart became dry,
and it seemed to me that beauty was a thing fashioned by the traders in words.
Tired i shut the book and snuffed the candle.
In a moment, the room was flooded with moonlight.

Spirit of Beauty, how could you, whose radiance overbrims the sky,
stand hidden behind a candle's tiny flame?
How could a few vain words from a book rise like a mist, and veil her
whose voice has hushed from the heart of earth into ineffable calm?

Rabindranath Tagore, The Evening was Lonely

Picture: All Rights Reserved ® aml.2007

brink of eternity

Brink Of Eternity

In desperate hope I go and search for her
in all the corners of my room;
I find her not.

My house is small
and what once has gone from it can never be regained.

But infinite is thy mansion, my lord,
and seeking her I have to come to thy door.

I stand under the golden canopy of thine evening sky
and I lift my eager eyes to thy face.

I have come to the brink of eternity from which nothing can vanish
---no hope, no happiness, no vision of a face seen through tears.

Oh, dip my emptied life into that ocean,
plunge it into the deepest fullness.
Let me for once feel that lost sweet touch
in the allness of the universe.

Rabindranath Tagore

To read:
Tagore's Poems - pdf file
To view:
Documentary on R. Tagore @ youtube

Picture: The Ganges in Varanasi, taken from wikipedia

Monday, February 04, 2008

hold my hand

This is taken from someone's blog. The words touched me very deeply...

"Care as the basis and precondition of all cure...
In a community like ours, we have put all the emphasis on cure. We want to be professionals: heal the sick, help the poor, teach the ignorant, and organise the scattered. But the temptation is that we use our expertise to keep a safe distance from that which really matters and forget that, in the long run, cure without care is more harmful than helpful.

What does it mean to care? Real care is not ambiguous. Real care excludes indifference and is the opposite of apathy. The word care finds its roots in the Gothic Kara, which means lament. The basic meaning of care is "to grieve, to experience sorrow, to cry out with.

...We tend to look at caring as an attitude of the strong toward the weak, of the powerful toward the powerless, of the have's toward the have-not's. And, in fact, we feel quite uncomfortable with an invitation to enter into someone's pain before doing something about it.

Still, when we honestly ask ourselves which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not-knowing, not-curing, not-healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is the friend who cares.

You might remember moments in which you were called to be with a friend who had lost a wife or husband, child or parent. What can we say, do, or propose at such a moment? There is a strong inclination to say: "Don't cry; the one you loved is in the hands of God." "Don't be sad because there are so many good things left worth living for." But are we ready to really experience our powerlessness in the face of death and say: "I do not understand. I do not know what to do, but I am here with you." Are we willing to not run away from the pain, to not get busy when there is nothing to do, and instead stand in the face of death together with those who grieve?

The friend who cares makes it clear that whatever happens in the external world, being present to each other is what really matters. In fact, it matters more than pain, illness, or even death. It is remarkable how much consolation and hope we can receive from authors who, while offering no answers to life's questions, have the courage to articulate the situation of their lives in all honesty and directness....Their courage to enter so deeply into human suffering and to become present to their own pain gave them the power to speak healing words.

Therefore, to care means first of all to be present to each other. From experience, you know that those who care for you become present to you. When they listen, they listen to you. When they speak, you know they speak to you. And when they ask questions, you know it is for your sake and not for their own. Their presence is a healing presence because they accept you on your terms, and they encourage you to take your own life seriously and to trust you own vocation.

Our tendency is to run away from the painful realities or to try to change them as soon as possible. But cure without care makes is into rulers, controllers, manipulators, and prevents a real communion from taking shape.....Maybe simple because we ourselves are so concerned with being different from the others that we do not even allow ourselves to lay down our heavy armor and come together in a mutual vulnerability. Maybe we are so full of our own opinions, ideas, and convictions that we have no space left to listen to the other and learn from him or her.

To care means first of all to empty our own cup and to allow the other to come close to us. It means to take away the many barriers which prevents us from entering into communion with the other. When we dare to care, then we discover that nothing human is foreign to us, but that all the hatred and love, cruelty and compassion, fear and joy can be found in our own hearts."

Henri Nouwen

The blog referred to is: Evan Gabriel Blog

More information on: Henri Nouwen

Picture by staffh@Flickr

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Rebuilding Bamiyan

In 2001 the Taliban swept through Afghanistan's Bamiyan Valley. Their target was the colossal stone Buddha statues which had stood for over 1500 years. The world watched powerless as one of its true wonders was lost. In Rebuilding Bamiyan Al Jazeera's Nadene Ghouri travels to Bamiyan to explore the restoration work being done on the site, and to talk to those planning to rebuild the statues.

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Life of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

This film is an authentic portrait of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, one of Tibet's great contemporary teachers, considered to be a "Master of Masters" among the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

Renowned as a great meditator, guru, poet, scholar and as one of the main teachers of the Dalai Lama, the Nyingma Lama Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche died in 1991. Ten years in the making, this film began in 1989 when translator Matthieu Riacrd and Vivian Kurz began taping extensive footage of their teacher. Shot in rarely filmed Kham, Eastern Tibet, as well as Nepal, Bhutan, India and France, the film shows the rich and intricate tapestry Of Tibetan Buddhism and is a witness to the strength, wisdom and depth of Tibetan culture.

Narration by Richard Gere with music by Philip Glass.

May all beings be happy

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Part 5:

HH Dalai Lama confirmed that Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche is the incarnation of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. More...