Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Metta Sutta

The latest installment of the Italian Buddhist: Urban Buddhism. It is a reading of the Metta Sutta, the Buddha’s words on loving kindness.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Japa (Mantra) Meditation

Japa Meditation

Japa meditation is also known as mantra meditation. With Japa meditation, the use of a mantra is used to focus the thoughts while quieting the mind. Japa meditation exists in many cultures along with a variety of practice methods.

Most methods involve repetition of a word or set of sounds. Some common mantras which you may have heard before are "Om" or "Om Mani padme hum". The sound "Om" pronounced "A-U-M", is a sacred sound which represents the creative energy of the universe. There are many interpretations and a great deal of focus spent on understanding the meaning of the sacred sound. Some interpret "Om" to be the sound of the initial creative spirit of the universe, or one true God.

"Om Mani Padme Hum" is also of great importance. It is one of the most revered mantras due to the amount of knowledge transmitted through its use. It is said that the entirety of the Buddha's teachings are contained within the mantra.

When beginning Japa meditation choosing a mantra which focuses the mind is an important step. If you are in contact with a spiritual leader then you may choose to have them select your mantra for you. If you're unable to speak with a spiritual leader, then selecting your own mantra should be your focus before beginning.

There may be different purposes for your mantra meditation. Using a mantra such as "Om", is meant to bring the spirit into contact with God. However, a spiritual goal such as that may be difficult to attain without the proper dedication and guidance. Not every person has the chance to meditate two or more hours a day in order to attain such a lofty goal. We may all be at different places in our journey to communicate with our spirit. Regardless of where you are at, Japa (or mantra) meditation is a great technique for bringing the mind to focus on one point of concentration. This concentration may be used to accomplish many different goals in life.
While some may believe that creating your own mantra may be tantamount to sacrilege, my view is that whatever helps you attain spiritual focus is a worthy pursuit. Before creating your own mantra though, realize that many of the mantras, which have been used for hundreds or thousands of years, are said to contain great spiritual power. Please keep this in mind when deciding on a mantra to use.

If you find that there is a particular area in your life that you need help on, then using a mantra to bring focus to the mind is a powerful way to activate your subconscious success mechanism.
If you would like to create a mantra for success in a particular area of life first acknowledge the need for development in that area. Then sit quietly allowing your mind to focus on what you would like to achieve. You may have a visual idea or be able to describe it well verbally. However you perceive it, for the purpose of your mantra meditation, you will need to summarize the essence of the focus.

This does not necessarily mean that a mantra will become something like "I want more money in my life" or "I will find the love of my life". Both of these mantras actually point to a lack of something in life. Thoughts such as those would likely create more negative energy by focusing on the present lack of abundance. A mantra will be most beneficial by creating a positive change in the mind/body. A powerful mantra might be something like "I am a man, I am complete alive and whole" or "My mind is free and clear of distracting thoughts, I am in complete control of my will". These mantras create a positive energy by creating a clearly defined actuality.
Mantras such as these allow positive energy to flow through the body while building strength in certain areas.
Once a mantra is chosen you may begin the practice of Japa meditation. Sit in a cross-legged position, much like you would in daily mindfulness meditation. You would then bring focus to the breath and allow a full and natural breathing pattern to relax the mind/body. In the case of mantra meditation, rather than focusing on the breath, your focus will be on the mantra.

Begin repeating the mantra either out loud or in your head. If you are in a place where you cannot repeat the mantra out loud, then repeating it in your mind will be jut as beneficial. If you repeat the mantra out loud, allow your body to feel the vibrations of your spoken voice. The mantra carries power through your body in this way. If you are repeating the mantra in your head, allow the mantra to consume the entirety of your thoughts. When you repeat it through your mind you may also want to imagine the mantra flowing through the entire body.

Some practices believe that repeating the mantra 108 times is a key to successful meditation. If you own a set of prayer beads, then it may be easier for you to keep track of the mantra count. Otherwise don't worry about the number of repetitions. Simply set a time that you will devote to the practice and repeat the mantra as many times as possible within that time frame. Setting an alarm to help you stick to the committed time may be helpful to you.

In any case when you choose to complete a mantra meditation, stick to one mantra. Don't begin the meditation with one mantra and then switch to another. You may not feel completely comfortable with your chosen mantra at first, but that will change over time.
By repeating one singular mantra you will find that the mind will slip into a deep meditative state. This state will help you absorb the teachings of the mantra deep into your subconscious mind. The repetition will also have the benefit of providing the conscious mind with a deep restful state along with increasing your ability to concentrate.

There are many benefits of mantra meditation. Be sure to stick to your mantra meditation in order to see your way through the challenges of life. I assure you that you will see deep and lasting changes which affect many areas of your life.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

This article written by the 14th  Dalai Lama is one of the best writings on compassion and how we can incorporate it into our lives that I have ever read. It is an honor to post this.


Compassion and the Individual

Compassion and the Individual

Tenzin Gyatso; The Fourteenth Dalai Lama

The purpose of life
 ONE GREAT QUESTION underlies our experience, whether we think about it consciously or not: What is the purpose of life?  I have considered this question and would like to share my thoughts in the hope that they may be of direct, practical benefit to those who read them.

I believe that the purpose of life is to be happy.  From the moment of birth, every human being wants happiness and does not want suffering.  Neither social conditioning nor education nor ideology affect this.  From the very core of our being, we simply desire contentment.  I don't know whether the universe, with its countless galaxies, stars and planets, has a deeper meaning or not, but at the very least, it is clear that we humans who live on this earth face the task of making a happy life for ourselves.  Therefore, it is important to discover what will bring about the greatest degree of happiness.

How to achieve happiness
For a start, it is possible to divide every kind of happiness and suffering into two main categories: mental and physical.  Of the two, it is the mind that exerts the greatest influence on most of us.  Unless we are either gravely ill or deprived of basic necessities, our physical condition plays a secondary role in life.  If the body is content, we virtually ignore it. The mind, however, registers every event, no matter how small. Hence we should devote our most serious efforts to bringing about mental peace.

From my own limited experience I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion.

The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes. Cultivating a close, warm-hearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. This helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter. It is the ultimate source of success in life.

As long as we live in this world we are bound to encounter problems. If, at such times, we lose hope and become discouraged, we diminish our ability to face difficulties. If, on the other hand, we remember that it is not just ourselves but every one who has to undergo suffering, this more realistic perspective will increase our determination and capacity to overcome troubles. Indeed, with this attitude, each new obstacle can be seen as yet another valuable opportunity to improve our mind!

Thus we can strive gradually to become more compassionate, that is we can develop both genuine sympathy for others' suffering and the will to help remove their pain. As a result, our own serenity and inner strength will increase.

Our need for love
Ultimately, the reason why love and compassion bring the greatest happiness is simply that our nature cherishes them above all else. The need for love lies at the very foundation of human existence. It results from the profound interdependence we all share with one another. However capable and skillful an individual may be, left alone, he or she will not survive. However vigorous and independent one may feel during the most prosperous periods of life, when one is sick or very young or very old, one must depend on the support of others.

Inter-dependence, of course, is a fundamental law of nature. Not only higher forms of life but also many of the smallest insects are social beings who, without any religion, law or education, survive by mutual cooperation based on an innate recognition of their interconnectedness. The most subtle level of material phenomena is also governed by interdependence. All phenomena from the planet we inhabit to the oceans, clouds, forests and flowers that surround us, arise in dependence upon subtle patterns of energy. Without their proper interaction, they dissolve and decay.

It is because our own human existence is so dependent on the help of others that our need for love lies at the very foundation of our existence. Therefore we need a genuine sense of responsibility and a sincere concern for the welfare of others.

We have to consider what we human beings really are. We are not like machine-made objects. If we are merely mechanical entities, then machines themselves could alleviate all of our sufferings and fulfill our needs.

However, since we are not solely material creatures, it is a mistake to place all our hopes for happiness on external development alone. Instead, we should consider our origins and nature to discover what we require.

Leaving aside the complex question of the creation and evolution of our universe, we can at least agree that each of us is the product of our own parents. In general, our conception took place not just in the context of sexual desire but from our parents' decision to have a child. Such decisions are founded on responsibility and altruism - the parents compassionate commitment to care of their child until it is able to take care of itself. Thus, from the very moment of our conception, our parents' love is directly in our creation.

Moreover, we are completely dependent upon our mothers' care from the earliest stages of our growth. According to some scientists, a pregnant woman's mental state, be it calm or agitated, has a direct physical effect on her unborn child.

The expression of love is also very important at the time of birth. Since the very first thing we do is suck milk from our mothers' breast, we naturally feel close to her, and she must feel love for us in order to feed us properly; if she feels anger or resentment her milk may not flow freely.

Then there is the critical period of brain development from the time of birth up to at least the age of three or four, during which time loving physical contact is the single most important factor for the normal growth of the child. If the child is not held, hugged, cuddled, or loved, its development will be impaired and its brain will not mature properly.

Since a child cannot survive without the care of others, love is its most important nourishment. The happiness of childhood, the allaying of the child's many fears and the healthy development of its self-confidence all depend directly upon love.

Nowadays, many children grow up in unhappy homes. If they do not receive proper affection, in later life they will rarely love their parents and, not infrequently, will find it hard to love others. This is very sad.

As children grow older and enter school, their need for support must be met by their teachers. If a teacher not only imparts academic education but also assumes responsibility for preparing students for life, his or her pupils will feel trust and respect and what has been taught will leave an indelible impression on their minds. On the other hand, subjects taught by a teacher who does not show true concern for his or her students' overall well-being will be regarded as temporary and not retained for long.

Similarly, if one is sick and being treated in hospital by a doctor who evinces a warm human feeling, one feels at ease and the doctors' desire to give the best possible care is itself curative, irrespective of the degree of his or her technical skill. On the other hand, if one's doctor lacks human feeling and displays an unfriendly expression, impatience or casual disregard, one will feel anxious, even if he or she is the most highly qualified doctor and the disease has been correctly diagnosed and the right medication prescribed. Inevitably, patients' feelings make a difference to the quality and completeness of their recovery.

Even when we engage in ordinary conversation in everyday life, if someone speaks with human feeling we enjoy listening, and respond accordingly; the whole conversation becomes interesting, however unimportant the topic may be. On the other hand, if a person speaks coldly or harshly, we feel uneasy and wish for a quick end to the interaction. From the least to the most important event, the affection and respect of others are vital for our happiness.

Recently I met a group of scientists in America who said that the rate of mental illness in their country was quite high-around twelve percent of the population. It became clear during our discussion that the main cause of depression was not a lack of material necessities but a deprivation of the affection of the others.

So, as you can see from everything I have written so far, one thing seems clear to me: whether or not we are consciously aware of it, from the day we are born, the need for human affection is in our very blood. Even if the affection comes from an animal or someone we would normally consider an enemy, both children and adults will naturally gravitate towards it.

I believe that no one is born free from the need for love. And this demonstrates that, although some modern schools of thought seek to do so, human beings cannot be defined as solely physical. No material object, however beautiful or valuable, can make us feel loved, because our deeper identity and true character lie in the subjective nature of the mind.

Developing compassion
Some of my friends have told me that, while love and compassion are marvelous and good, they are not really very relevant. Our world, they say, is not a place where such beliefs have much influence or power. They claim that anger and hatred are so much a part of human nature that humanity will always be dominated by them. I do not agree.

We humans have existed in our present form for about a hundred-thousand years. I believe that if during this time the human mind had been primarily controlled by anger and hatred, our overall population would have decreased. But today, despite all our wars, we find that the human population is greater than ever. This clearly indicates to me that love and compassion predominate in the world. And this is why unpleasant events are news, compassionate activities are so much part of daily life that they are taken for granted and, therefore, largely ignored.

So far I have been discussing mainly the mental benefits of compassion, but it contributes to good physical health as well, According to my personal experience, mental stability and physical well-being are directly related. Without question, anger and agitation make us more susceptible to illness. On the other hand, if the mind is tranquil and occupied with positive thoughts, the body will not easily fall prey to disease.

But of course it is also true that we all have an innate self-centeredness that inhibits our love for others. So, since we desire the true happiness that is brought about by only a calm mind, and since such peace of mind is brought about by only a compassionate attitude, how can we develop this? Obviously, it is not enough for us simply to think about how nice compassion is! We need to make a concerted effort to develop it; we must use all the events of our daily life to transform our thoughts and behavior.

First of all, we must be clear about what we mean by compassion. Many forms of compassionate feeling are mixed with desire and attachment. For instance, the love parents feel of their child is often strongly associated with their own emotional needs, so it is not fully compassionate. Again, in marriage, the love between husband and wife -  particularly at the beginning, when each partner still may not know the other's deeper character very well - depends more on attachment than genuine love. Our desire can be so strong that the person to whom we are attached appears to be good, when in fact he or she is very negative. In addition, we have a tendency to exaggerate small positive qualities. Thus when one partner's attitude changes, the other partner is often disappointed and his or her attitude changes too. This is an indication that love has been motivated more by personal need than by genuine care for the other individual.

True compassion is not just an emotional response but a firm commitment founded on reason. Therefore, a truly compassionate attitude towards others does not change even if they behave negatively.

Of course, developing this kind of compassion is not at all easy! As a start, let us consider the following facts:
Whether people are beautiful and friendly or unattractive and disruptive, ultimately they are human beings, just like oneself. Like oneself, they want happiness and do not want suffering. Furthermore, their right to overcome suffering and be happy is equal to one's own. Now, when you recognize that all beings are equal in both their desire for happiness and their right to obtain it, you automatically feel empathy and closeness for them. Through accustoming your mind to this sense of universal altruism, you develop a feeling of responsibility for others: the wish to help them actively overcome their problems. Nor is this wish selective; it applies equally to all. As long as they are human beings experiencing pleasure and pain just as you do, there is no logical basis to discriminate between them or to alter your concern for them if they behave negatively.

Let me emphasize that it is within your power, given patience and time, to develop this kind of compassion. Of course, our self-centeredness, our distinctive attachment to the feeling of an independent, self-existent �I�, works fundamentally to inhibit our compassion. Indeed, true compassion can be experienced only when this type of self- grasping is eliminated. But this does not mean that we cannot start and make progress now.

How can we start
We should begin by removing the greatest hindrances to compassion: anger and hatred. As we all know, these are extremely powerful emotions and they can overwhelm our entire mind. Nevertheless, they can be controlled. If, however, they are not, these negative emotions will plague us - with no extra effort on their part! - and impede our quest for the happiness of a loving mind.

So as a start, it is useful to investigate whether or not anger is of value. Sometimes, when we are discouraged by a difficult situation, anger does seem helpful, appearing to bring with it more energy, confidence and determination.

Here, though, we must examine our mental state carefully. While itis true that anger brings extra energy, if we explore the nature of this energy, we discover that it is blind: we cannot be sure whether its result will be positive or negative. This is because anger eclipses the best part of our brain: its rationality. So the energy of anger is almost always unreliable. It can cause an immense amount of destructive, unfortunate behavior. Moreover, if anger increases to the extreme, one becomes like a mad person, acting in ways that are as damaging to oneself as they are to others.

It is possible, however, to develop an equally forceful but far more controlled energy with which to handle difficult situations.

This controlled energy comes not only from a compassionate attitude, but also from reason and patience. These are the most powerful antidotes to anger. Unfortunately, many people misjudge these qualities as signs of weakness. I believe the opposite to be true: that they are the true signs of inner strength. Compassion is by nature gentle, peaceful and soft, but it is very powerful. It is those who easily lose their patience who are insecure and unstable. Thus, to me, the arousal of anger is a direct sign of weakness.

So, when a problem first arises, try to remain humble and maintain a sincere attitude and be concerned that the outcome is fair. Of course, others may try to take advantage of you, and if your remaining detached only encourages unjust aggression, adopt a strong stand, This, however, should be done with compassion, and if it is necessary to express your views and take strong countermeasures, do so without anger or ill-intent.
You should realize that even though your opponents appear to be harming you, in the end, their destructive activity will damage only themselves. In order to check your own selfish impulse to retaliate, you should recall your desire to practice compassion and assume responsibility for helping prevent the other person from suffering the consequences of his or her acts.

Thus, because the measures you employ have been calmly chosen, they will be more effective, more accurate and more forceful. Retaliation based on the blind energy of anger seldom hits the target.

Friends and enemies
I must emphasize again that merely thinking that compassion and reason and patience are good will not be enough to develop them. We must wait for difficulties to arise and then attempt to practice them.

And who creates such opportunities? Not our friends, of course, but our enemies. They are the ones who give us the most trouble, So if we truly wish to learn, we should consider enemies to be our best teacher!

For a person who cherishes compassion and love, the practice of tolerance is essential, and for that, an enemy is indispensable. So we should feel grateful to our enemies, for it is they who can best help us develop a tranquil mind! Also, itis often the case in both personal and public life, that with a change in circumstances, enemies become friends.

So anger and hatred are always harmful, and unless we train our minds and work to reduce their negative force, they will continue to disturb us and disrupt our attempts to develop a calm mind. Anger and hatred are our real enemies. These are the forces we most need to confront and defeat, not the temporary enemies who appear intermittently throughout life.

Of course, it is natural and right that we all want friends. I often joke that if you really want to be selfish, you should be very altruistic! You should take good care of others, be concerned for their welfare, help them, serve them, make more friends, make more smiles, The result? When you yourself need help, you find plenty of helpers! If, on the other hand, you neglect the happiness of others, in the long term you will be the loser. And is friendship produced through quarrels and anger, jealousy and intense competitiveness? I do not think so. Only affection brings us genuine close friends.

In today's materialistic society, if you have money and power, you seem to have many friends. But they are not friends of yours; they are the friends of your money and power. When you lose your wealth and influence, you will find it very difficult to track these people down.

The trouble is that when things in the world go well for us, we become confident that we can manage by ourselves and feel we do not need friends, but as our status and health decline, we quickly realize how wrong we were. That is the moment when we learn who is really helpful and who is completely useless. So to prepare for that moment, to make genuine friends who will help us when the need arises, we ourselves must cultivate altruism!
Though sometimes people laugh when I say it, I myself always want more friends. I love smiles. Because of this I have the problem of knowing how to make more friends and how to get more smiles, in particular, genuine smiles. For there are many kinds of smile, such as sarcastic, artificial or diplomatic smiles. Many smiles produce no feeling of satisfaction, and sometimes they can even create suspicion or fear, can't they? But a genuine smile really gives us a feeling of freshness and is, I believe, unique to human beings. If these are the smiles we want, then we ourselves must create the reasons for them to appear.

Compassion and the world
In conclusion, I would like briefly to expand my thoughts beyond the topic of this short piece and make a wider point: individual happiness can contribute in a profound and effective way to the overall improvement of our entire human community.

Because we all share an identical need for love, it is possible to feel that anybody we meet, in whatever circumstances, is a brother or sister. No matter how new the face or how different the dress and behavior, there is no significant division between us and other people. It is foolish to dwell on external differences, because our basic natures are the same.

Ultimately, humanity is one and this small planet is our only home, If we are to protect this home of ours, each of us needs to experience a vivid sense of universal altruism. It is only this feeling that can remove the self-centered motives that cause people to deceive and misuse one another.

If you have a sincere and open heart, you naturally feel self- worth and confidence, and there is no need to be fearful of others.

I believe that at every level of society - familial, tribal, national and international - the key to a happier and more successful world is the growth of compassion. We do not need to become religious, nor do we need to believe in an ideology. All that is necessary is for each of us to develop our good human qualities.

I try to treat whoever I meet as an old friend. This gives me a genuine feeling of happiness.  It is the practice of compassion.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Someone once tried to explain the laws of karma (cause and effect), by using a metaphor.  They asked us to imagine a figure in the sky that not only watches everything we do, but rewards us with blessings for our good deeds, and punishes us with bad luck for each harmful act.

While the intentions of that metaphor were sincere, karma isn't judgment, it's consequence. We are the ones responsible.

If you steal from someone today, for example, it must be because you don't fully understand the pain of being robbed (if you truly did, you wouldn't steal). You essentially set the universe wheels in motion to cause someone else to steal from you so that you can understand what it feels like. This will happen again and again (over multiple lifetimes) until you finally understand and vow never to steal again.  Come to think of it, this can be seen as a wonderful reward, for you are given the opportunity to learn something new. We should, therefore, think of everyone we meet as a teacher.

Buddhism honors where everyone currently is on their path.  That is why we don't have a list of commandments, so to speak, but a gentle invitation to be more mindful.  With a raised awareness we don't need someone else telling us to do no harm; we naturally vow not to because we are aware of the suffering it causes.

What lesson have you learned in the past but haven't yet vowed to never do to someone else again? Can you start today?

Taken from buddhistbootcamp.com. Quite a very good explanation of karma...at least I think so!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tiny Wisdom: Being Self-Aware and Minimizing Drama

As you know, from time to time I post articles by other authors. Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha, Simple Wisdom For Complex Times at www.tinybuddha.com. I absolutely love her beautifully simple and lovely take on life. She helps me quite a bit...I hope you find as much joy in her writings as I do.



“Our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as being able to remake ourselves.” –Gandhi

This past weekend, I took a break from writing at Starbucks to visit the nearby Fall Festival, which featured a petting zoo, face painting, and food samples.

This is one of my favorite events because it encompasses many things I love, including farm animals, giddy children, and food on toothpicks (yes, that’s in my list of favorite things).
Much to my excitement, I saw there was also a large makeover event set up in the vicinity. Since I had time, I decided to get in line—except there wasn’t one. It was more like a group of women positioned haphazardly in front of the two stylists.
So I asked one of the women, “Are you in line?”
Her response caught me off guard, because she snapped kind of defensively, “Yes. This is the line. Behind me—I’ve been waiting!”
Instinctively, I felt annoyed. I’d asked to be considerate, but I gathered it didn’t come across that way.

I realized then that I often feel angry when I have positive intentions that others don’t seem to receive as such; and I can easily get frustrated when I sense hostility that I feel I “don’t deserve.”
Sometimes, because of that, I take things personally that simply aren’t personal—and also aren’t a big deal.

While this was a brief encounter with little significance in the grand scheme of things, it got me thinking about the importance of self-awareness.
So often in life, we feel things that have little to do with what’s actually happening and everything to do with the stories we’re telling ourselves in our head—stories that involve assumption, blame, and defensiveness.

But we don’t have to fall victim to our instinctive emotional reactions. At any time, we can stop, assess what’s going on in our heads, and decide to respond a little more wisely based on what we know about ourselves.

Today if you feel yourself getting all worked up over something that isn’t a big deal, ask yourself, “What can I learn about myself that will help me going forward?”

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Advice on Treading the Buddhist Path

Advice on Treading the Buddhist Path
Variant of Varada mudra, left hand has fingers pointing down.  Teaching, calming and consoling.  © BPG
Variant of Varada mudra, left hand has fingers pointing down.
The Buddha’s teaching was given to help people find true happiness by putting an end to suffer­ing. True happiness is attained by doing certain things and leaving certain things undone. The following has been adapted from various sources on how to tread the Buddhist path.
To make far-reaching plans as though we were going to establish permanent residence in this world, instead of living as though each day were the last, is foolish.
Sorrow and misfortune are teachers that convince us of the need to lead a religious life.
Reflecting upon the miseries which all sentient beings suffer will encourage us to attain liberation.
There is no real happiness outside of enlightenment.
It should be realised that all sorrows are the result of past actions.
Reflecting upon the nature of cause and effect will encourage us to avoid unskilful and unwise actions.
Avoid those actions which harm the mind and impede spiritual development.
Freedom from desire and attachment is necessary if we wish to be free of suffering.
Refrain from harming any living thing.
Eating meat is like eating one’s own chil­dren.
We should consider that all sentient beings are no other than the Buddha himself.
Refrain from earning a living by means of deceit and theft.
Unless all ambitions are eradicated, we are likely to fall into the error of allowing ourselves to be dominated by worldly motives.
It is useless devoting our lives to the acquisition of worldly things, seeing that when death comes we must relinquish even our own bodies.
Act so that you have no cause to be ashamed of yourselves, and hold fast to this rule.
Act so that you have no cause to be ashamed of yourselves, and hold fast to this rule.
Instead of hankering after the transitory pleasures of this life, we should devote ourselves to realising the eternal bliss of nirvana.
To enjoy a single moment of nirvanic bliss is more precious than to enjoy any amount of sensual bliss.
Be content with simple things and be free from craving for worldly possessions.
Hurt none by word or deed.
Reason, being one’s best friend, should not be abandoned.
It is not only necessary to understand the teaching; it is also necessary to apply it to our own needs.
Awareness and humility are required to keep body, speech and mind free from defilement.
A team of the fastest horses cannot overtake a word once it has left the lips.
A team of the fastest horses cannot overtake a word once it has left the lips.
Don’t ever dispute on religious belief.
Constantly maintain alertness of mind in walking, sitting, eating and sleeping.
It is good to train the wandering mind. A mind under control brings great happiness.
If great attachment, craving, or unwhole­some mental states arise, make an effort to eradicate them as soon as possible.
It is good to abandon attachment to all things and attain knowledge of reality.
Cultivate friendliness, compassion, and wisdom.
Reflecting upon death and the imperma­nence of life will encourage us to live skilfully and without blame.
We can only acquire knowledge of the path by treading it.
Reflecting upon the uselessness of aimlessly frittering away our lives will encourage us to tread the path diligently.
To enter upon the path and not to tread it is foolish.
To know the precepts and not apply them to clearing away defilement is to be like a sick man who never takes his medicine.
To be idle and indifferent when the circum­stances are favourable for realisation is foolish.
To be clever concerning precepts, yet ignorant of the experiences which come from applying them, is to be like a rich man who has lost the key of his treasury.
To enter upon the path and to cling to worldly feelings of attraction and aversion is foolish.
To live hypocritically is as stupid as poison­ing our own food.
Without practical and adequate understand­ing of the teaching, we are likely to fall into the error of religious self-conceit.
Don’t despise a beginner if you are a seeker of supreme enlightenment.
Don’t despise a beginner if you are a seeker of supreme enlightenment. Never say to anyone: You will not obtain superior knowledge.
Trying to reform others instead of reform­ing ourselves is an error.
Let go!
Once spiritual knowledge has dawned, do not neglect it through laziness, but cultivate it vigorously.
Avoid concealing one’s own faults and broadcasting the faults of others.
Don’t boast of your own attainment, but apply it to the realisation of truth.
By permitting credulous admirers to congre­gate about us, we are likely to become puffed up with worldly pride.
Performing good actions merely to attain fame and praise is like exchanging the mystic wish-granting gem for a pellet of goat’s dung.
To cunningly praise ourselves while dispar­aging others is foolish.
To devote ourselves to selfish ambitions instead of working for the good of others is as foolish as a blind man allowing himself to become lost in a desert.
See all beings as on the way to their slaugh­ter.
Fools think they harm themselves by putting others first.
One does no good to oneself by taking advantage of others.
If we slight others we harm ourselves.
Unless we are selfless and compassionate, we are likely to fall into the error of seeking liberation for ourselves alone.
If only the good of others is sought in all that we do, then it will be realised there is no need to seek any benefit for ourselves.
Helping others, however limited our abilities may be, should not be avoided.
The mind, imbued with compassion in thought and deed, should always be directed to the service of all sentient beings.
Reflecting upon the evils of life in the round of successive existences will encourage us to seek freedom from birth and death.
To spend our lives oscillating between hope and fear instead of understanding reality is an error.
Supreme enlightenment is easy to know—just cut yourself off from seizing upon false views.
When we understand the teachings, it is the same whether we meet with good fortune or with bad.
Those who tread the path should be indiffer­ent to both comfort and hardship.
When we realise that all phenomena are illusory, then we realise there is no need to seek or reject anything.
When we are truly compassionate, it is the same whether we practise meditation in solitude or work for the good of others in the midst of society.
It is a great joy to realise that the path to freedom, which all the buddhas have trodden, is ever-present, ever-unchanged, and ever-open to those who are ready to enter upon it.
Straightforward action will lead us to liberation directly.
Study the teachings of the great sages of all sects impartially.
Page detail from the Diamond Sutra
~~~~~~~~~                    ~~~~~~~~~                     ~~~~~~~~~
Books used
Dhammapada, J. Austin, (ed.), 1983, The Buddhist Society, London.
The Large Sutra on Perfect Wisdom, E. Conze, 1975, University of California Press.
The Path of Freedom, Rev. N.R.M. Ehara, et al., 1977, BPS.
Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines, W.Y. Evans­Wentz (ed.), 1969, OUP.
Tibet’s Great Yogi Milarepa, W.Y. Evans-Wentz (ed.), 1969, OUP.
The Diamond Sutra and the Sutra of Hui Neng, Wong Mou-Lam (trans.), 1969, Shambhala.
The Lankavatara Sutra, D.T. Suzuki (trans.), 1973, RKP.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tremendous News!

Just got word that I have been given a space to start a meditation group on Wednesday nights here in Western New York! I am so happy! They are giving us an incredible room! The group will focus on Metta: compassion and loving kindness. The world sure could use some of that! 
How wonderful! The group is called The Buffalo Metta-Loving Kindness Meditation Group. It will start in a couple weeks...I’ll post more details soon! 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Five Symptoms that Show Your Meditation Practice is Working

This is a wonderful little article by Lawrence Grecco submitted on The Interdependence Project. The site and the article are quite inspirational and motivating. Enjoy!

Five Symptoms that Show Your Meditation Practice is Working

By Lawrence Grecco
If you are experiencing just 1 of these symptoms, you can be sure that your mediation practice is off to a good start:

1. You are getting overwhelmed with heavy thoughts and emotions.
Excellent news! It means your practice is working and you are becoming more and more aware of how your mind works. This often happens when a person is just beginning a meditation practice and they mistake it for a sign that it doesn’t really work. Au contraire,grasshopper...Remember, meditation isn’t about eradicating your thoughts, it’s about learning to be aware of how your thought process works so you no longer have to be so beholden to it. You’re not supposed to have an empty head all the time so let go of that idea and realize that whatever thoughts you are having are simply an incredible expression of your mind and it’s vast capabilities (even though it sometimes resembles a horror film).

2. When you are angry, you don’t always react right away.
If even once in a while you find yourself pausing before reacting by acting out the way you normally do, you’re on the road to changing your relationship to this poisonous state. Anger has a way of convincing us that we have to do something immediately because it is such a compelling emotion. In reality by letting anger take us over, it’s as if we are holding onto hot coals that we want to throw at someone--and we’re the one who gets burned (thanks, Siddharta!). Letting anger control our actions does nothing but reinforce that feeling within us which brings about unhappiness for ourselves and other people.

3. You have a little more perspective.
When we take the time to sit quietly with some degree of regularity (even 10 minutes a day for 5 days a week) it’s as if we move from a small 350 square foot studio apartment to a 3,000 square foot loft space. Meditation gradually reveals the vastness of our minds so that the things that once used to bug the hell out of us no longer take up quite the same amount of room in our minds, or the same time and energy that they used to. Consider what it’s like to have 10 guests in a small studio and how loud and crowded they would seem there. If you put those same guests in a huge loft space they wouldn’t bother you as much. The same goes for difficult emotions, experiences, and circumstances--when they come up we have a larger container of awareness within our minds with which to handle them. The bigger the container, the less daunting they all seem.

4. You can hang out with things as they are instead of trying to change or “fix” them right away.
An uncomfortable situation arises and while you would normally want to flee or talk nervously or do whatever it is you used to do, you can now just be there and notice the awkwardness of things with the understanding that it’s only temporary.  Or let’s say you’re bored but instead of texting or eating or shopping or smoking or turning on the TV you can just coexist with your boredom for a while. Meditation practice teaches us to sit with things as they are and to realize that things are quite fine just as they are, even though it doesn’t always appear that way.

5. You can be a little kinder to yourself and others.
You’re not as screwed up/awful/stupid/lazy/untalented/ugly/poor/worthless/foolish/immature/unlovable as you think you are. The Buddha often compared our true nature to that of a nugget of gold that’s been buried in the dirt for a long time. Even though your naturally spacious mind may be obscured by years of conditioning, experiences and limiting beliefs, it’s still there underneath all the grime. Over time as you practice, it’s like you are cleaning that chunk of gold off and every now and then a small part of it’s brilliance gets exposed so you get a glimpse of your inherent goodness. By understanding that you and all other people possess the same goodness, kindness naturally ensues. Just give it some time.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Vigilance By Lord Shantideva

When the urge arises in the mind
To feelings of desire or wrathful hate,
Do not act! Be silent, do no speak!
And like a log of wood be sure to stay.

When the mind is wild with mockery
And filled with pride and haughty arrogance,
And when you want to show the hidden faults of others,
To bring up old dissensions or to act deceitfully,

And when you want to fish for praise,
Or criticize and spoil another's name,
Or use harsh language, sparring for a fight,
It's then that like a log you should remain.

And when you yearn for wealth, attention, fame,
A circle of admirers serving you,
And when you look for honors, recognition---
It's then that like a log you should remain.

And when you want to do another down
And cultivate advantage for yourself,
And when the wish to gossip comes to you,
It's then that like a log you should remain.

Impatience, indolence, faint heartedness,
And likewise haughty speech and insolence,
Attachment to your side--when these arise,
It's then that like a log you should remain.

Examine thus yourself from every side.
Note harmful thoughts and every futile striving.
Thus it is that heroes in the bodhisattva path
Apply the remedies to keep a steady mind.

With perfect and unyielding faith,
With steadfastness, respect, and courtesy,
With modesty and conscientiousness,
Work calmly for the happiness of others.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Italian Buddhist-Urban Buddhism: Love Thy Self

We are taught from an early age to love our neighbor and be giving. All too often we put others before ourselves and forget to shine the light of compassion on our own heart. We deserve our own love too!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Be Open Minded About Compassion

I absolutely love tinybuddha.com! This is her latest post on compassion....

“Love is saying, ‘I feel differently’ instead of ‘you’re wrong.’” -Unknown

I’ve written a lot of posts about compassion these past few years, challenging both myself and readers to be open-minded and see things from others’ points of view.

On almost every post, someone has commented that there are times when other people are, in fact, wrong–when the person who cut you off in traffic really is a jerk, not just having a bad day; when the friend who hurt you actually had cruel intentions, and didn’t just make an innocent mistake; or when the person who sees things differently is truly misinformed, as opposed to holding a varied, but different opinion.

I think we sometimes fear losing our sense of self and self-respect by giving other people too much leeway. If we give the benefit of the doubt one time too many times, we may start to feel like a door mat. Or if we consider other people’s perspectives too seriously, we may risk losing the beliefs that help us make sense of the world.

If we continually refrain from identifying people as right and wrong, we may find it challenging to hold onto the ideas that feel right to us. And that can be a scary thought, particularly when many of us wrap around our identities around our beliefs and understandings.

But maybe it doesn’t have to work this way. Maybe we can define the conduct we believe to be good and kind, without assuming we know people’s intentions, thereby labeling them right or wrong when they stumble. Maybe we can decide and honor what we believe and allow other people the same freedom, choosing not to be threatened if they see things differently.

Maybe loving ourselves is feeling secure without having to convince other people we’re right; and loving other people is wanting to understand instead of wanting to tell them they’re wrong.

Today if you feel tempted to point out the err of someone’s ways or beliefs, ask yourself: Would I rather argue and create pain, or agree to disagree and maintain peace?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Every Morning

Every morning, when we wake up, we have 24 brand new hours to live. What a precious gift! We have the capacity to live in a way that these 24 hours will bring peace, joy and happiness to ourselves and others. Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in every thing we do and see - Thich Nhat Hanh

Monday, August 8, 2011

One: The Movie

This is one of the finest documentaries on the various questions of life I have ever seen. It is absolutely amazing! Every religion, faith, group of people...anyone you could possibly imagine, are asked profound questions...questions we’ve all thought of. Some of the individuals questioned are the greatest spiritual minds in contemporary times. It is wonderful!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Italian Buddhist- Urban Buddhism: The Zen Of Listening

This is the latest installment of The Italian Buddhist: Urban Buddhism...It is about truly hearing...Mindful listening or the Zen of listening. It is anchoring your attention on sound. Clarity and peace can be achieved by incorporating this into your life.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Pema Chodron - Working with Shenpa (Getting Hooked) in Meditation

This is so amazing! A great explanation of what to do when we are "hooked."

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Vajra Guru Mantra

One of the most famous mantras in Tibet is the mantra of Padmasambhava, called the Vajra Guru Mantra, OM AH HUM VAJRA GURU PADMA SIDDHI HUM. Like most mantras, it is in Sanskrit, the ancient sacred language of India. The mantra of Padmasambhava is the mantra of all the buddhas, masters, and realized beings, and so uniquely powerful for peace, for healing, for transformation and for protection in this violent, chaotic age.

The Vajra Guru mantra, OM AH HUM VAJRA GURU PADMA SIDDHI HUM, is pronounced by Tibetans: Om Ah Hung Benza Guru Pema Siddhi Hung. This exploration of its meaning is based on explanations by Dudjom Rinpoche and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.
The essential meaning of the mantra is: "I invoke you, the Vajra Guru, Padmasambhava, by your blessing may you grant us ordinary and supreme siddhis."