Thursday, 30 August 2012

Painting credit: Ben Potter

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Into the possible

Even after a thousand failed attempts, success is possible. In fact, each disappointing result brings you closer to the result you intend to achieve. Your past may be filled with failure and disappointment, or it may be filled with achievement and joy. But no matter how it has been, it doesn’t have to hold you back right now. Right now, you can choose to learn from what has been, and to use that knowledge to move forward. You can build on the past achievements and completely leave behind the past disappointments. Don’t let the past become an excuse. Life proceeds forward from this moment, so choose to proceed forward with it. Let go of resentment, regret, anger, envy, blame and disappointment. Focus instead on the extraordinary positive possibilities of now, and on your desire to make your life and your world the best they can be.
Now is when you can make now count in good and meaningful and significant ways. Step beyond the past and into the possible.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Vibrating within
The ear are many voices
But their origin
Has a source which may be called
The sound of no sound.

 - Takuan

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

A kind and generous heart

It would be of no value to have love if you could not also give love. There would be no satisfaction in having the world’s greatest fortune if there was no one with whom to share your good fortune. Don’t obsess over getting what’s coming to you. Focus your energy on giving and expanding all the good things that can come from you. You’ll rarely gain anything by proving that you’re right. Instead, put your efforts into doing what is right. If your ego controls every moment of your life, that life will be little more than an empty shell. To fill your life with richness, live with a kind and generous heart. If you seek to take without giving, you create bitterness in every direction. The only wealth that will ever bring fulfillment is the wealth you create and give. Don’t settle for a shallow, empty life when you can enjoy so much more. Give your best, with a kind and generous heart, and truly live life at its highest level.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Make an effort

Effort makes you stronger. Effort makes you more effective. Even if it doesn’t immediately bring the results you seek, effort moves you in the direction of your goals. Effort demonstrates and teaches, in ways that are undeniable, what works and what doesn’t. Make an effort, a real, sincere, focused effort, and you make some progress. Make another effort, and another, and another, and you’ll surely get where you intend to go. Dreaming and wishing and planning and intending all have their places. Yet it is effort that finally gets you there. Effort makes you feel like you’re getting something done, because you are. It sure beats complaining or wondering or worrying. Make an effort and make some progress. Make an effort and put some real substance and life into your dreams.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

I love you

I once asked my three year old how he knows that I love him. His answer was simple. ” ‘Cause you tell me all the time.” We need to let the children know that they are loved with our words. You can say “I love you” in many ways. I’m glad you’re here! I’m so happy to see you! I really love the time we get to have together! I’m so lucky to be with you today! Greet and acknowledge each child as they enter your care. Whether that means teachers saying hello as they arrive at school, or parents hugging and cheerfully greeting them as they wake up in the morning, noticing them the first thing each day sends a message to them that they are noticed, wanted, and important to you.

Trust in Allah, but tether your camel first

Each day it happens: you could have done something but you didn't do it, and you are using the excuse that if God wants it done, He will do it anyhow. Or, you do something and then you wait for the result, you expect, and the result never comes. Then you are angry, as if you have been cheated, as if God has betrayed you, as if He is against you, partial, prejudiced, unjust. And there arises great complaint in your mind. Then trust is missing.

The religious person is one who goes on doing whatsoever is humanly possible but creates no tension because of it. Because we are very, very tiny, small atoms in this universe, things are very complicated. Nothing depends only on my action; there are thousands of crisscrossing energies. The total of the energies will decide the outcome. How can I decide the outcome?

But if I don't do anything then things may never be the same. I have to do, and yet I have to learn not to expect. Then doing is a kind of prayer, with no desire that the result should be such. Then there is no frustration.

Trust will help you to remain unfrustrated, and tethering the camel will help you to remain alive, intensely alive.

This Sufi saying wants to create the third type of man, the real man: who knows how to do and who knows how not to do; who can be a doer when needed, can say "Yes!" and who can be passive when needed and can say "No"--who is utterly wakeful in the day and utterly asleep in the night; who knows how to inhale and how to exhale; who knows the balance of life.

"Trust in Allah but tether your camel first."

This saying comes from a small story. A master was traveling with one of his disciples. The disciple was in charge of taking care of the camel. They came in the night, tired, to a caravanserai. It was the disciple's duty to tether the camel; he didn't bother about it, he left the camel outside. Instead of that he simply prayed. He said to God, "Take care of the camel," and fell asleep.

In the morning the camel was gone--stolen or moved away, or whatsoever happened. The master asked, "What happened to the camel? Where is the camel?" And the disciple said, "I don't know. You ask God, because I had told Allah to take care of the camel, and I was too tired, so I don't know. And I am not responsible either, because I had told Him, and very clearly! There was no missing the point. Not only once in fact, I told Him thrice. And you go on teaching 'Trust Allah,' so I trusted. Now don't look at me with anger."

The master said, "Trust in Allah but tether your camel first--because Allah has no other hands than yours." If He wants to tether the camel He will have to use somebody's hands; He has no other hands. And it is your camel! The best way and the easiest and the shortest way is to use your hands. Trust Allah--don't trust only your hands, otherwise you will become tense. Tether the camel and then trust Allah."

You will ask, "Then why trust Allah if you are tethering the camel?"--because a tethered camel can also be stolen. You do whatsoever you can do: that does not make the result certain, there is no guarantee. So you do whatsoever you can, and then whatsoever happens, accept it.

This is the meaning of tether the camel: do whatever is possible for you to do, don't shirk your responsibility, and then if nothing happens or something goes wrong, trust Allah. Then He knows best. Then maybe it is right for us to travel without the camel. It is very easy to trust Allah and be lazy. It is very easy not to trust Allah and be a doer. The third type of man is difficult--to trust Allah and yet remain a doer. But now you are only instrumental; God is the real doer, you are just instruments in His hands.
Put your mind at peace

Put your mind at peace, and put yourself in a powerful state. Let go of the worries and anxieties, and let in the most meaningful and positive possibilities. You already have enough challenges to deal with. Don’t let your own thoughts drag you down. Instead, quiet those thoughts and feel the beauty of your own being. Rather than getting carried along by one distraction after another, experience the unique power and potential of the moment. At the center of who you are, there is peace, and it is real. Connect yourself often with that peace, and let its positive power fill every corner of your life. Put your mind at peace, and free yourself to think and to act according to your highest, most authentic values. See the best possibilities, and see how you can lovingly bring them to life. Live from a perspective of peace, and live at a higher, more heartfelt level. Put your mind at peace, and be your most sincere and positive self.

My doctrine is to think the thought that is unthinkable, to practice the deed that is non-doing, to speak the speech that is inexpressible, and to be trained in the discipline that is beyond discipline. Those who understand this are near; those who are confused are far. The Way is beyond words and expressions, is bound by nothing earthly. Lose sight of it to an inch, or miss it for a moment and we are away from it.

- Sutra of Forty Two Chapters

Friday, 17 August 2012

Breakthrough Sermon

If someone is determined to reach enlightenment, what is the most essential method he can practice?
The most essential method, which includes all other methods, is beholding the mind.
But how can one method include all others?
The mind is the root from which all things grow.  If you can understand the mind, everything else is included.  It’s like with a tree.  All of its fruit and flowers, its branches and leaves, depend on its root.  If you nourish its root, a tree multiplies.  If you cut its root, it dies.  Those who understand the mind reach enlightenment with minimal effort. Those who don’t understand the mind practice in vain.  Everything good and bad comes from your own mind.  To find something beyond the mind is impossible.
 But how can beholding the mind be called understanding?
When a great bodhisattva delves deeply into perfect wisdom, he realizes that the four elements and five shades are devoid of a personal self.   And he realizes that the activity of the mind has two aspects: pure and impure.  By their very nature, these two mental states are always present.  They alternate as cause or effect depending on conditions, the pure mind delighting in good deeds; the impure mind thinking of evil. Those who aren’t affected by impurity are sages.  They transcend suffering and experience the bliss of nirvana.  All others, trapped by the impure mind and entangled by their own karma, are mortals.  They drift through the three realms and suffer countless afflictions, and all because their impure mind obscures their real self.
The Sutra of the Ten Stages says, “In the body of mortals is the indestructible buddha-nature.  Like the sun, its light fills endless space. But once veiled by the dark clouds of the five shades, it’s like light inside a jar, hidden from view.”  And the Nirvana Sutra says, “All mortals have the buddha-nature. But it’s covered by darkness from which they can’t escape.  Our buddha-nature is awareness:  to be aware and to make others aware.  To realize awareness is liberation.”  Everything good has awareness for its root.  From this root of awareness grows the tree of all virtues and the fruit of nirvana.  Beholding the mind like this is understanding.
You say that our true buddha-nature and all virtues have awareness for their root. But what is the root of ignorance?
The ignorant mind, with its infinite afflictions, passions and evils, is rooted in the three poisons:  greed, anger, and delusion.  These three poisoned states of mind themselves include countless evils, like trees that have a single trunk but countless branches and leaves.  Yet each poison produces so many more millions of evils that the example of a tree is hardly fitting for comparison.
The three poisons are present in our six sense organs as six kinds of consciousness, or thieves.  They’re called thieves because they pass in and out of the gates of the senses, covet limitless possessions, engage in evil and mask their true identity.  And because mortals are misled in body and mind by these poisons or thieves, they become lost in life and death, wander through the six states of existence and suffer countless afflictions.  These afflictions are like rivers that surge for a thousand miles due to the constant flow of small springs. But if someone cuts off their source, rivers dry up.  And if someone who seeks liberation can turn the three poisons into the three sets of precepts and the six thieves into the six paramitas, he rids himself of affliction once and for all.

But the three realms and six senses of existence are infinitely vast.  How can we escape their endless afflictions if all we do is behold the mind?

The karma of the three realms comes from the mind alone.  If your mind isn’t within the three realms, it’s beyond them.  The three realms correspond to the three poisons:  greed corresponds to the realm of desire, anger to the realm of form, and delusion to the formless realm.  And because karma created by the poisons can be gentle or heavy, these three realms are further divided into six places known as the six states of existence.

But the great bodhisattvas have only achieved enlightenment by observing the three sets of precepts and by practicing the six paramitas.  Now you tell disciples merely to behold the mind.  How can anyone reach enlightenment without cultivating rules of discipline?

The three sets of precepts are for overcoming the three poisoned states of mind.  When you overcome these poisons, you create three sets of limitless virtue.  A set gathers things together—in this case, countless good thoughts throughout your mind.  And the six paramitas are for purifying the six senses.  What we call paramitas, you call means to the other shore. By purifying your six senses of the dust of sensation, the paramitas ferry you across the River of Affliction to the Shore of Enlightenment.

You should realize that the practice you cultivate doesn’t exist apart from your mind.  If your mind is pure, all buddha lands are pure.  The sutras say, “If their minds are impure, beings are impure. If their minds are pure, beings are pure.”  And, “To reach a buddha land, purify your mind.  As your mind becomes pure, buddha lands become pure.
The sutras say that someone who whole-heartedly invokes the Buddha is sure to be reborn in the Western Paradise.  Since this door leads to Buddhahood, why seek liberation in beholding the mind?

If you’re going to invoke the Buddha, you have to do it right.  Unless you understand what invoking means, you’ll do it wrong. And if you do it wrong, you’ll never go anywhere.  Buddha means awareness, the awareness of body and mind that prevents evil from arising in either.  And to invoke means to call to mind, to call constantly to mind the rules of discipline and to follow them with all your might.  This is what’s meant by invoking.  Invoking has to do with thought and not with language.  If you use a trap to catch fish, once you succeed, you can forget the trap.  And if you use language to find meaning, once you find it, you can forget language.

To invoke the Buddha’s name, you have to understand the dharma of invoking. If it’s not present in your mind, you mouth chants an empty name.  As long as you’re troubled by the three poisons or by thoughts of yourself, your deluded mind will keep you from seeing the Buddha, and you’ll only waste your effort.

Chanting and invoking are worlds apart.  Chanting is done with the mouth.  Invoking is done with the mind. And because invoking comes from the mind, it’s called the door to awareness.  Chanting is centered in the mouth and appears as sound.  If you cling to appearances while searching for meaning, you won’t find a thing.  Thus, sages of the past cultivated introspection and not speech.

This mind is the source of all virtues.  And this mind is the chief of all powers.  The eternal bliss of nirvana comes from the mind at rest.  Rebirth in the three realms also comes from the mind.  The mind is the door to every world.  And the mind is the ford to the other shore.  Those who know where the door is don’t worry about reaching it.  Those who know where the ford is don’t worry about crossing it.

The people I meet nowadays are superficial.  They think of merit as something that has form.  They foolishly concern themselves with erecting statues and stupas, telling people to pile up limber and bricks, to pain this blue or that green.  They strain body and mind, injure themselves and mislead others. And they don’t know enough to be ashamed.  How will they ever become enlightened?  They see something tangible and instantly become attached.  If you talk to them about formlessness, they sit there dumb and confused.  Greedy for the small mercies of this world, they remain blind to the great suffering to come.  Such disciples wear themselves out in vain.  Turning from the true to the false, they talk about nothing but future blessings.

If you can simply concentrate your mind’s inner light and behold its outer illumination, you’ll dispel the three poisons and drive away the six thieves once and for a ll. And without effort you’ll gain possession of an infinite number of virtues, perfections and doors to the truth.  Seeing through the mundane and witnessing the sublime is less than an eye-blink away.  Realization is now.  Why worry about gray hair?  But the true door is hidden and can’t be revealed.  I have only touched upon beholding the mind.

First Patriarch of Zen – Bodhidharma  (~440 -528)
Excerpted from The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma – trans by Red Pine 1987

Your kindness

There’s nothing to be gained by being rude. Yet there’s a great deal of benefit in being kind and respectful. If someone has been rude or hurtful to you, it’s natural to feel like being rude and hurtful in return. It’s natural and understandable, but not at all beneficial for anyone. Rudeness projects weakness and insecurity, while kindness and respect impart confidence and strength. Which qualities would you prefer to communicate to others? The powerful choice is the choice to be genuinely respectful and authentically kind. The way to move forward is to move beyond petty negativity and one-upmanship. Though your kindness will not always be returned, it will certainly be noticed. And even if it’s not appreciated by anyone else, your kindness will always inject more positive value into your own life. What you give, comes back to you, in ways that are impossible to foresee. Give your kindness, as often as you can, and benefit from the more positive world you are helping to create.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Amidst the earthquakes of unexpected situations, the hurricanes of unreasonable behaviour, when fortune strikes against me, I will remain unmoved, knowing that finally all will be well.

Seeing the Way is like going into a dark room with a torch; the darkness instantly departs, while the light alone remains. When the Way is attained and the truth is seen, ignorance vanishes and enlightenment abides forever.

 - Sutra of Forty Two Chapters

We think we are holding the roof. Things happen by themselves. This is a little revolutionary. Maybe it may raise many questions in your head, but thoroughly examine this in your life. All the events that have happened just fell into place for you to be where you are just now. You see the entire phenomenal world is happening on its own. You only have to watch.
- Sri Sri

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

"Be still. Just for a moment. Listen to the world around you. Feel your breath coming in and going out. Listen to your thoughts. See the details of your surroundings. Be at peace with being still. It’s pretty simple, actually: all you have to do is sit still for a little bit each day. Once you’ve gotten used to that, try doing less each day. Breathe when you feel yourself moving too fast. Slow down. Be present. Find happiness now, in this moment, instead of waiting for it. Savor the stillness. It’s a treasure, and it’s available to us, always."
- Leo Babauta
" Man is imprisoned by words. Man’s whole problem is language. Below language is the world of the animals and beyond language is the world of the gods. Between the two is the world of man, the world of language, words — philosophies, scriptures, theories and ideologies. The mind consists of words. The word is the brick that the palace of mind is made of, it is the stuff it is made of.
Slowly, slowly, one has to go on dropping the words and one has to enter into silence. And that is not difficult: once you start trying to move towards it, it starts happening. The reality is when all words have disappeared, when you are not thinking but you just are…when there is no thought cloud in the mind but pure awareness, unclouded, an unclouded sky. When there is no thought there is no trembling, no winds are blowing. All is tranquil and quiet. In that quietude, one penetrates reality. Reality cannot be thought about. You can see it but you cannot think about it. To think about it is to go far away from it, because whatsoever you think will be wrong. Thinking is wrong.

You see a rose. What can you think about it? The moment you say it is beautiful, you have gone far away from the rose, from its facticity, from its reality. Now the mind has come in, it says it is beautiful. Now the word beautiful will create many other associations, a chain will start. You will forget about the flower, you will think about the man whom you used to think beautiful or a poem that you used to think beautiful. The flower is forgotten. Now you have got into a train of thoughts. It is unending and one never knows where one is going to land."

Inner smile meditation

This meditation can be done whenever you are sitting with nothing to do.

Step 1: Breathe From the Mouth

Osho - “Relax the lower jaw and let your mouth open just slightly. Start breathing from the mouth, but not deeply. Just let the body breathe so it becomes more and more shallow. And when you feel that the breath has become very shallow and your mouth is open and jaw relaxed, your whole body will feel very relaxed.

Step 2: Feel a Smile

Osho - “In that moment, start feeling a smile — not on your face but all over your being — and you will be able to. It is not a smile that comes on the lips; it is an existential smile that spreads just inside. Try and you will know what it is, because it cannot be explained. No need to smile with your lips on your face but just as if you are smiling from the belly, the belly is smiling.

“And it is a smile, not a laugh, so it is very very soft, delicate, fragile — like a small rose opening in the belly and the fragrance spreading all over the body.

“Once you have known what this smile is, you can remain happy for twenty-four hours a day. And whenever you feel that you are missing that happiness, just close your eyes and catch hold of that smile again, and it will be there. In the daytime as many times as you want, you can catch hold of it. It is always there.”

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

In the realm of True Purity, there is no such thing as "I" or "He" or "She," nor can "friend" or "foe" be found there. But the slightest confusion of mind brings innumerable differences and complications. Peace and disorder in the world, the distinction between friend and foe in human relationships, follow upon one another as illusion begets delusion. A person of spiritual insight will immediately recognize what is wrong and before long rid themselves of such an illusion.

- Muso Kokushi

Act by choice rather than by need

When you act out of need, you are acting from a perspective of weakness. When you act out of authentic choice, you make yourself much stronger and more effective. Certainly there are things you must have to survive and prosper. Yet you can choose to put yourself in a position where those things are available to you in abundance. Get out in front of your needs, and transform them into choices. Instead of needing them, you can have them and benefit from them. As much as possible, put yourself in a position of power by choosing to meet your obligations before they become needs. Instead of needing more money at the end of the month, choose from the beginning of the month to earn more or spend less, or both.
Need puts you in a position of desperation and weakness. It initiates a negative momentum that intensifies and further deepens the need. Choice puts you on a far more positive trajectory. Every good and purposeful choice you act upon will steer you away from the need to need, and provide you with much more favorable options.

The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.


Monday, 13 August 2012

Saturday, 11 August 2012

The way to true spirituality
Cannot depend upon others;
One instant of enlightenment
And I go beyond body and self.
The myriad and profound virtues
Are complete;
Anywhere in the universe is now my home.

- Mokuan
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Surrendering completely to love, be it human
or divine means giving up everything,
including our own well being or our
ability to make decisions.
It means loving in the deepest sense of the word.
The truth is that we don't want to be saved in the way
God has chosen; we want to keep absolute
control over our every step, to be fully
consciuos of our decisions, to be capable
of choosing the object of our devotion.

Paulo Coelho

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

All the way there

The most powerful time to persist is when you don’t feel like it. Keep going, and the persistence itself will make you feel much better. The most powerful time for keeping your expectations high is when those expectations are not being met. Persist in expecting the best, and in backing up your expectations with action. When things are not working out, that’s an opportunity for you to get busy working diligently and purposefully. When there’s a difficult challenge standing in your way, there’s meaningful value on the other side of that challenge. If it seems you’ve run out of ideas, and you’re being blocked at every turn, go ahead and step confidently forward. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The energy, the resources and the opportunities are most certainly there. Persistence is how you prove that you’re ready and willing to make the most of those opportunities. Then you’re weary, frustrated and disappointed, you’re also closer than ever to the goal. Persist, and get yourself all the way there.


Sunday, 5 August 2012