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
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.
Friday, October 7, 2011
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Advice on Treading the Buddhist Path
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.
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.
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.
Trying to reform others instead of reforming ourselves is an error.
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.
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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.