LAMA SURYA DAS
It is always now.
It’s now or never,
From Make Me One with Everything: Buddhist Meditations to Awaken from the Illusion of Separation (May 2015), by Lama Surya Das. Reprinted with permission of Sounds True. Lama Surya Das is a contemporary Buddhist teacher in the Tibetan tradition.
You shouldn’t chase after the past
or place expectations on the future.
What is past
is left behind.
is as yet unreached.
Whatever quality is present
you clearly see right there,
Not taken in,
that’s how you develop the heart.
what should be done today,
There is no bargaining
with Mortality and his mighty
Whoever lives thus ardently,
both day and night,
has truly had an auspicious day:
so says the Peaceful Sage.
From The Bhaddekaratta Sutta, translated by Thai forest monk Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
May that one I think does not love me, love themselves; may that one I cannot feel in my heart, feel their heart; may that one who hates me, not hate themselves; may that part of me that hates another part of me, have mercy; may mercy roll across the mind like a remembrance of some forgotten love; may all we have forgotten of vanishing light, of fleeting moments of love, gather to heal us.
From The Healing I Took Birth For: Practicing the Art of Compassion, by Ondrea Levine. Reprinted with permission of Red Wheel/ Weiser, LLC. Ondrea Levine is an American spiritual author.
RICHARD K. PAYNE
It seems to me that the advice of the Buddha was not to change how you think about things so that you’re happy and content with them as they are, but rather to see things as they are.
From “Power and Pedagogy,” published on the blog of Richard K. Payne. Richard K. Payne is a professor of Japanese Buddhist studies.
Spoken by Mara [a Buddhist demon] to her [a Buddhist nun]
It is hard to get to the place that sages want to reach,
it’s not possible for a woman,
especially not one with only two fingers’ worth of
What does being a woman have to do with it?
What counts is that the heart is settled
and that one sees what really is.
What you take as pleasures are not for me,
the mass of mental darkness is split open.
Know this, evil one, you are defeated, you are finished.
From Therigatha: Poems of the First Buddhist Women, translated by Charles Hallisey, published as part of the Murty Classical Library of India. Reprinted with permission of Harvard University Press.
THUPTEN JINPA LANGRI
No doubt there is a link between today’s widespread loneliness and contemporary culture’s emphasis on autonomy and an individualistic lifestyle, both of which tend to undermine social connectedness. Can the rise of social networking opportunities like Facebook reverse this cultural trend toward greater loneliness? The research so far is inconclusive; it’s too early to say, but I doubt it. If anything, with declining human-to-human interaction, chances are our younger generation might experience loneliness even more acutely.
I witnessed the Dalai Lama hug a total stranger once. His Holiness was participating in a seminar on “Buddhism and Psychotherapy” in Newport Beach, California, and I was his interpreter. One afternoon, among the small group of people waiting outside the home where the Dalai Lama was staying, a visibly disturbed man shouted out to him. His Holiness walked toward him and patiently listened to the man rant about the pointlessness of living. The Dalai Lama then urged the man to think about the good things in his life, and the importance of his presence in the lives of his loved ones, as well as the good things he could do with his life by helping others. Nothing worked. So, finally, His Holiness stopped talking and gave the man a huge bear hug. The man sobbed loudly, then became calm and relaxed.
From A Fearless Heart: How the Courage to Be Compassionate Can Transform Our Lives, by Thupten Jinpa. Reprinted with permission of Hudson Street Press. Thupten Jinpa Langri is a scholar and the Dalai Lama’s principal English interpreter.
Often, in meditation, we are besieged by desire. One desire after another, they cycle through our mind endlessly. We’re alone with them, with nothing to distract us and no way to fulfill them. We can only look at the endless parade of desires.
If you sit in meditation with devotion, you will have to see and endure your desires. After a while, we realize how irrelevant the object of our desire is. It is desire itself that perpetuates our suffering. We use desire to cover up all sorts of difficult emotions. If we’re insecure, we set goals that will prove our self-worth. We use goal-setting to cover deep hurts or painful memories. Avoiding difficult emotions perpetuates them. The cycle repeats itself with even more intensity.
Can you accept your desires graciously? When you sit on the cushion and see one desire after another and feel how consuming each is—if you remain on your cushion, then you are graciously accepting them. It may not feel gracious on the inside. But when the bell rings and the desire suddenly dissipates, we recognize how little it actually means to us. Often it was just a temporary distraction from the pain or boredom that was coming up. Developing a gracious attitude toward our obsessive desires is what Zen practice is about. Seeing the nature of desire is the beginning of spiritual liberation.
From Nothing Holy About It: The Zen of Being Just Who You Are, by Tim Burkett, © 2015 by Tim Burkett and Wanda Isle. Reprinted with permission of Shambhala Publications. Tim Burkett is an American Zen Buddhist teacher.
Illustrations by Roberto La Forgia
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