Where is thought? It can never be seen or even apprehended. It is like a magical illusion, for with imagination it colors the world. Searching for thought, unable to see it, a person looks for its origin. And it seems to be that where there is an object thought arises. Thought does not arise without an object. Can thought look at thought? No. Just as the blade of a sword cannot cut itself, or a fingertip touch itself, so thought cannot see thought.
-Sikshasamuccaya From "Buddha Speaks," edited by Anne Bancroft, 2000
If you cultivate the right attitude, your enemies are your best spiritual teachers because their presence provides you with the opportunity to enhance and develop tolerance, patience, and understanding.
–The Dalai Lama
Considering the harm others do to you
As created by your former deeds, do not anger.
Act such that further suffering will not be created
And your own faults will disappear.
-Nagarjuna, “Precious Garland”
Try to be reasonable in the way you grow, and don't ever think it is too late. It is never too late. Even if you are going to die tomorrow, keep yourself straight and clear and be a happy human being today. If you keep your situation happy day by day, you will eventually reach the greatest happiness of enlightenment.
-Lama Thubten Yeshe, The Bliss of Inner Fire
Karma is not something complicated or philosophical. Karma means watching your body, watching your mouth, and watching your mind. Trying to keep these three doors as pure as possible is the practice of karma.
-Lama Thubten Yeshe, "The Bliss of Inner Fire"
We are not compelled to meditate by some outside agent, by other people, or by God. Rather, just as we are responsible for our own suffering, so are we solely responsible for our own cure. We have created the situation in which we find ourselves, and it is up to us to create the circumstances for our release.
-Lama Thubten Yeshe, "Wisdom Energy"
Every minute you perform hundreds of karmic actions, yet you are hardly conscious of any of them. In the stillness of meditation, however, you can listen to your mind, the source of all this activity. You learn to be aware of your actions to a far greater extent than ever before. This self-awareness leads to self-control, enabling you to master your karma rather than be mastered by it.
-Lama Thubten Yeshe, "Wisdom Energy"
When it is impossible for anger to arise within you, you find no outside enemies anywhere. An outside enemy exists only if there is anger inside.
-Lama Zopa Rinpoche, "The Door to Satisfaction"
Whenever you hear that someone else has been successful, rejoice. Always practice rejoicing for others--whether your friend or your enemy. If you cannot practice rejoicing, no matter how long you live, you will not be happy.
-Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Transforming Problems Into Happiness
Leave the mind in its natural, undisturbed state. Don't follow thoughts of "This is a problem, that is a problem!" Without labeling difficulties as problems, leave your mind in its natural state. In this way, you will stop seeing miserable conditions as problems.
-Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Transforming Problems Into Happiness
All the faults of our mind – our selfishness, ignorance, anger, attachment, guilt, and other disturbing thoughts – are temporary, not permanent and everlasting. And since the cause of our suffering – our disturbing thoughts and obscurations – is temporary, our suffering is also temporary.
-Lama Zopa Rinpoche, “Ultimate Healing”
Different winds come from all directions. Some are clear, some carry dust, some are cold or hot, fierce gales or gentle breezes. In the same way sensations arise in the body--pleasant or unpleasant or neutral. When a meditator sees sensations as he does the winds, coming and going, clear or dust laden, fierce or gentle, he will fully understand them and be free from dependence on them. When he understands sensations perfectly, he will see beyond this conditioned world.
Mindfulness is not just a word or a discourse by the Buddha, but a meaningful state of mind. It means we have to be here now, in this very moment, and we have to know what is happening internally and externally. It means being alert to our motives and learning to change unwholesome thoughts and emotions into wholesome ones. Mindfulness is a mental activity that in due course eliminates all suffering.
-Ayya Khema, "Be an Island"
Cherishing and caring for others is the source of all happiness. Cherishing ourselves over others, is the source of all suffering and negative conditions.
In the gloom and darkness of the night, when there is a sudden flash of light, a person will recognize objects; in the same way, the one with a flash of insight sees according to reality--'This is how sorrow works; this is how it arises; this is how it can come to an end; this is the path leading to that end.'
Subhuti asked: 'You say, Honored One, that a follower of the way does not need to build up goodness and happiness. Why is that?'
The Buddha replied: 'Subhuti, a true follower will express goodness and happiness but will not be caught up in the concepts of goodness and happiness. That’s why I say that he does not need to build up goodness and happiness, which would only be concept traps, for goodness and happiness will be there without any idea of them.'
Those who argue and discuss without understanding the truth are lost amid all the forms of relative knowledge, running about here and there and trying to justify their view of the substance of ego.
If you realize the self in your inmost consciousness, it will appear in its purity. This is the womb of wonder, which is not the realm of those who live only by reason.
Pure in its own nature and free from the categories of finite and infinite, Universal Mind is the undefiled wonder, which is wrongly apprehended by many.
May all sentient beings have happiness and its causes.
May all sentient beings be free from suffering and its causes.
May all sentient beings not be separated from sorrowless bliss.
May all sentient beings abide in equanimity, free from bias, attachment and anger.
Whatever living beings there may be--feeble or strong, small or large, seen or unseen, those who live far or those near, those who are born and those who are yet to be born--may all beings, without exception, experience a happy mind.
Let one not deceive another nor despise any person whatever in any place. In anger or ill will let one not wish any harm to another.
Let one's thoughts of boundless love pervade the whole world without any obstruction, without any hatred, without any enmity.
The Buddha was asked: 'To what extent can a person be a speaker of the way?'
He answered: 'If a person teaches the way in order to transcend the tyranny of material things and to teach how to transcend feelings, perceptions, impulses, and consciousness--teaching nonattachment with regard to these--then that person can be called a speaker of the way. If he is himself trying to transcend the pull of the material world and to feel nonattachment toward it, then it is fitting to say he is living in accordance with the way. If he is liberated by this transcendence and nonattachment, then you can say he has found nirvana here and now.
If the perfection of generosity
Were the alleviation of the world's poverty,
Then since beings are still starving now
In what manner did the previous Buddhas perfect it?
The perfection of generosity is said to be
The thought to give all beings everything,
Together with the fruit of such a thought.
Hence it is simply a state of mind.
It is through not understanding, not penetrating four things that we have run so erratically, wandered on so long in this round of existence, both you and I. What are the four? Goodness, concentration, wisdom, and liberation. When these four things are understood and penetrated, craving for superficial existence is rooted out and that which leads to continued return to the same conditions is ended. There is no more constant journeying.
One should not imagine oneself to be one with the eye or independent of it or the owner of it. The same with the ear and all the other senses, including the mind. Nor should one imagine oneself to be identical with the world or contained in it or independent of it or the owner of it.
In this way, free from imagining, one no longer clings to the things of the world. When one no longer clings, there is no more agitation, insecurity, and worry. Being no longer worried, one can reach into the depths of oneself and understand that where there has been loss there is now fulfillment.
Shariputra asked: 'When a follower attains the great insight of perfect wisdom, does that follower then covet and cultivate omniscience, infinite knowledge?'
The Buddha answered: 'Such a follower never covets or cultivates infinite knowledge. That very attitude of not coveting and not cultivating reveals everything to him and he sees all possible structures--from objects of the senses to buddhas--to be transparent in their nature. This radiant transparency is, in fact, simply the total awakeness of a buddha. The now-awakened follower becomes, in this way, immersed in infinite wisdom and blossoms spontaneously as omniscience itself.'
If anyone says that a person must reap according to his deeds, if anyone thinks the law of karma is inexorable, then he is saying that there is no spiritual life or growth and nor is there any opportunity to bring confusion to an end. But if anyone says that what a person reaps is in accordance with his deeds, in that case a spiritual life can exist and there is opportunity for realization.
If you seek after truth, you should investigate things in such a way that your consciousness as you investigate is not distracted by what you find, or diffused and scattered; neither is it fixed and set. For the one who is not swayed, there will be a transcending of birth, death, and time.
Whether you walk or stand or lie down,
Stretch your limbs or draw them in again,
Let you do all these things attentively,
Above, across, and back again.
Whatever your place in the world,
Let you be the one who views the movement
Of all compounded things with attention.
Sakuladayi the Wanderer asked the Buddha: 'What is the past and what is the future?'
'Let the past be,' answered the Buddha, 'and forget the future. I will teach you that which is now.'
When this condition is, that condition comes to be,
With the arising of this, that arises,
When this is not here, that does not come into existence,
With the ceasing of this, that too ceases.
This is how you should contemplate. The world is an idea in the mind to which the word world has been attached. Beyond this idea is the mystery of beingness. But it's not possible to free people from their attachment to the idea--to that which blinds them to the reality--without appropriate methods. So you should tread the path of perfect giving, of patience, energy, meditation, and wisdom. Yet while following these activities, you should remain aware that the world is illusory. It is for the sake of those who do not know that you engage in dynamic and vigorous work and also in meditation and one-pointed attention. Understanding that without wisdom you can do nothing for others, you remain in the perfection of wisdom, which is the awareness that what you are doing is both essential and illusory.
When you are thinking about an object, it sometimes occurs that evil, unwholesome thoughts connected with and delusion come into your mind. The way to get rid of them is to concentrate on another object that is wholesome and good. Just as a skilled carpenter knocks out a coarse peg with a fine one, so the evil thoughts will disappear. With their departure, the mind will become calm, unified, and concentrated once more.
If any recluses or followers do not understand objectively that the enjoyment of sense pleasures is enjoyment, that the unsatisfactoriness of their passing is unsatisfactoriness, and that liberation from their tyranny is liberation--then it's not possible that they will properly understand what the desire for sense pleaures is or that they will be able to bring anyone else to understand it. But if they do understand objectively the arising and ceasing of sense pleasures, their frequent unsatisfactoriness, and the way to freedom from attachment to them, they will be able to instruct other people to that end.
Let there be nothing behind you; leave the future to one side. Do not clutch at what is left in the middle; then you will become a wanderer and calm.
The great Indian Master Shantideva (~700 AD) said words to the effect of, 'Every suffering in the world comes from cherishing the self, and every happiness for cherishing others.'
If you students of the Way wish to become Buddhas, you need study no doctrines whatever, but learn only how to avoid seeking for and attaching yourselves to anything.
-Huang Po, 'Zen Teaching of Huang Po'
Sakka asked the Buddha: 'Do different religious teachers head for the same goal or practice the same disciplines or aspire to the same thing?'
'No, Sakka, they do not. And why? This world is made up of myriad different states of being, and people adhere to one or another of these states and become tenaciously possessive of them, saying, 'This alone is true, everything else is false.' It is like a territory that they believe is theirs. So all religious teachers do not teach the same goal or the same discipline, nor do they aspire to the same thing.
'But if you find truth in any religion or philosophy, then accept that truth without prejudice.'
-Digha Nikaya -From 'Buddha Speaks,' edited by Anne Bancroft, 2000
Hearing the above, another questioner, Jatukkani, asked: 'Like the sun which controls the world with its heat and light, you, Master, seem to control desire and pleasure. I have only a little understanding. How can I find and know the way to give up this world of birth and aging?'
The Buddha answered: 'Lose your greed for pleasure. See how letting go of the world brings deep tranquility. There is nothing you need hold on to and nothing you need push away. Live in the present but do not cling to it and then you can go from place to place in peace. There is a state of greed that enters and dominates the individual. But when that greed has gone, it is like poison leaving a body and death will have no more terror for you.'
-Sutta Nipata -From 'Buddha Speaks,' edited by Anne Bancroft, 2000
Don't be afraid of doing good. It's another name for happiness,
for all that is dear and delightful--this phrase 'doing good.'
Who ever would live well,
Long lasting, bringing bliss--
Let him be generous, be calm,
And cultivate the doing of good.
By practicing these three,
These three bliss-bringing things,
The wise one lives without regret
His world infused with happiness.
-Itivuttaka SutraFrom 'Buddha Speaks,' edited by Anne Bancroft, 2000
When you contemplate the body by being within the body, you should not engage in all sorts of ideas about it; the same when you contemplate feelings by being within feelings, you should enter in without ideas; the same applies to contemplating the mind by being within the mind and contemplating thoughts by being within thoughts.
The thoughts should be just the objects of mind and you should not apply yourself to any train of ideas connected with them. In this way, by putting ideas aside, your mind will become tranquil and fixed on one point. It will then enter into a meditation that is without discursive thought and is rapturous and joyful.
-Majjhima Nikaya -From 'Buddha Speaks,' edited by Anne Bancroft, 2000
Happy is he who lives contented in solitude, is well-versed in the Doctrine and who has realized it. Happy is he who lives in this world free from ill-will, and is benevolent towards all beings. Happy is he who lives in this world free from passion, has overcome sensual enjoyment, and who has attained mastership over the conceit of 'I am.' This indeed is the highest happiness.
-Udana 2.1 -From '365 Buddha: Daily Meditations,' edited by Jeff Schmidt
Let me tell you about the middle path. Dressing in rough and dirty garments, letting your hair grow matted, abstaining from eating any meat or fish, does not cleanse the one who is deluded. Mortifying the flesh through excessive hardship does not lead to a triumph over the senses. All self-inflicted suffering is useless as long as the feeling of self is dominant.
You should lose your involvement with yourself and then eat and drink naturally, according to the needs of your body. Attachment to your appetites--whether you deprive or indulge them--can lead to slavery, but satisfying the needs of daily life is not wrong. Indeed, to keep a body in good health is a duty, for otherwise the mind will not stay strong and clear.
This is the middle path.
-Discourse II -From 'Buddha Speaks,' edited by Anne Bancroft, 2000
If those who are like wanton children
Are by nature prone to injure others,
What point is there in being angry--
Like resenting fire for its heat?
-BodhicaryavataraFrom '365 Buddha: Daily Meditations,' edited by Jeff Schmidt
Real peace will arise spontaneously
When your mind becomes free
When you know that the objects of the world
Can never give you what you really want.
-Theeragatha -From "Buddha Speaks," edited by Anne Bancroft, 2000
'Shariputta, does it occur to any of my followers to think that after they have known full enlightenment they should lead all beings to nirvana?'
'No, Honored One.'
'But that should be their intention. They should not be too caught up with themselves to believe that. A glowworm or firefly does not think that its light could illuminate the continent of India or even radiate over it. In the same way, the followers do not think that they can, after obtaining full enlightenment, lead all beings to nirvana. But the sun, when it has risen, radiates its light over the whole of India. Just so, an awakened follower when he is fully enlightened, without even consciously attempting to, leads all beings to nirvana.
Subhuti asked: 'How does a person practice all the perfections?'
The Buddha replied: 'By not perceiving any duality. Through understanding this nonduality he teaches reality to all beings. With physical energy, he travels widely to teach. With mental energy, he guards against the arising of such ideas as 'permanence or impermanence,' 'good or evil,' and so on. With the perfection of wisdom, he does not consider anything ultimately real but serves all beings with loving attention so that energy, patience, and meditation will be aroused in them. but even though he attends to the minutest detail of whatever must be done, he never grasps it or tries to make ultimate sense of it, because he knows it has no enduring substance of its own.'
-Prajnaparmita -From 'Buddha Speaks,' edited by Anne Bancroft, 2000
What monks, is the world? The eye and shapes, the ear and sounds, the nose and smells, the tongue and tastes, the body and tactile objects, the mind and mental objects--these form the world as we know it.
When an eye and a shape are there, then the consciousness of seeing arises. From this consciousness comes sensation; that which is sensed is thought over; that which is thought over is projected outward as the external world.
So I declare that in this six-foot-long body with its perceptions and thinking lies the world, the beginning of the world, the ending of the world, and the way to the ending of the world.
-Majjhima Nikaya -From 'Buddha Speaks,' edited by Anne Bancroft, 2000
When the ear hears, observe the mind. Does it get caught up and make a story out of the sound? Is it disturbed? You can know this, stay with it, be aware. At times you may want to escape from the sounds, but that is not the way out. You must escape through awareness.
-Ajahn Chah, "Still Forest Pool" -From "365 Buddha: Daily Meditations," edited by Jeff Schmidt
Subhuti said: "If I understand correctly, one who wishes to reach perfect wisdom should study the way things are in the world and should practice the perfections fully and in depth but should not believe them to be ultimately real, nor should he make concepts and doctrines out of them."
The Buddha replied: "Just so, Subhuti. The one who contemplates existence in this way knows the nature of the conditioned and of the unconditioned and makes himself an expert in pointing out the truth to others, both with words and without words."
Subhuti asked: "But is this just for the wise and the intelligent?"
"No, indeed," replied the Buddha. "This is open to all, even to the dull witted and to those who can't pay attention. The door is open to anyone who wants to tread this path--but not to the person who is lazy and indifferent."
-Praajnaparamita -From "Buddha Speaks," edited by Anne Bancroft, 2000
If there were no freedom, beings could never disentangle themselves from the world. But since there is freedom to transcend the world, beings are able to become disentangled.
-Anguttara Nikaya -From "Buddha Speaks," edited by Anne Bancroft, 2000
There is a sphere where there is neither earth nor water nor heat nor air, for it is beyond the field of matter; nor is it the sphere of infinite space, or consciousness, for it is beyond the field of mind. There is not the condition of nothingness, neither is there the state of this world or another world, nor sun nor moon. This is the uncreated.
This condition I call neither arising nor passing away, neither dying nor being born. It is without form and without change. It is the eternal, which never originates and never passes away. To find it is the end of sorrow.
Abandoning false speech,
he abstains from false speech;
he speaks truth, adheres to truth,
is trustworthy and reliable,
one who is no deceiver of the world.
Subhuti asked: "Is it possible to find perfect wisdom through reflection or listening to statements or through signs or attributes, so that one can say 'This is it' or 'Here it is'?"
The Buddha answered: "No, Subhuti. Perfect wisdom can't be learned or distinguished or thought about or found through the senses. This is because nothing in this world can be finally explained, it can only be experienced, and thus all things are just as they are. Perfect wisdom can never be experienced apart from all things. To see the Suchness of things, which is their empty calm being, is to see them just as they are. It is in this way that perfect wisdom and the material world are not two, they are not divided. As a result of Suchness, of calm and empty being, perfect wisdom cannot be known about intellectually. Nor can the things of the world, for they are understood only through names and ideas. Where there is no learning or finding out, no concepts or conventional words, it is in that place one can say there is perfect wisdom."
Develop the mind of equilibrium. You will always be getting praise and blame, but do not let either affect the poise of the mind: follow the calmness, the absence of pride.
If we single-pointedly practice great compassion, then, with little effort, we will be able to gain all other virtues.
-Geshe Namgyal Wangchen, "Awakening the Mind"
The purpose of studying Buddhism is not to study Buddhism, but to study ourselves.
-Shunryu Suzukii, "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind"
"Don't go by gossip and rumor, nor by what's told you by others, nor by what you hear said, nor even by the authority of your traditional teachings. Don't go by reasoning, nor by inferring one thing from another, nor by argument about methods, nor from liking an opinion, nor from awe of the teacher and thinking he must be deferred to.
"Instead, Kalamas, when you know from within yourselves that certain teachings are not good, that when put into practice they lead to loss and suffering, you must then trust yourselves and reject them."
Just as material things are made of dust, so too are our perceptions and thoughts mere dust. Just as it takes only a moment to wipe the dust from the surface of a mirror, so it takes only a moment to become enlightened, the moment all defiled intentions are cleared from our consciousness, we will see ourselves in the mirror of perfect truth.
-Master Hsing Yun, "Describing the Indescribable"
It is a defect in language that words suggest permanent realities and people do not see through this deception. But mere words cannot create reality. Thus people speak of a final goal and believe it is real, but it is a form of words and the goal as such is without substance. The one who realizes the emptiness of objects and concepts does not depend on words. Perfect wisdom is beyond definition, and pathlessness is the way to it.
The wise one treads this path for the direct realization of impermanence and for the direct realization of understanding. This, then, is perfect wisdom. Such a one should tread this path knowing that attachment and attractions are neither good nor harmful, even enlightenment is neither good nor harmful, because perfect wisdom is not meant to promote good or harm for that person. However, even though there is no intention of good or harm, it does confer endless blessing.
-Prajnaparamita - From "Buddha Speaks," edited by Anne Bancroft, 2000
Overcoming attachment does not mean becoming cold and indifferent. On the contrary, it means learning to have relaxed control over our mind through understanding the real causes of happiness and fulfillment, and this enables us to enjoy life more and suffer less.
-Kathleen McDonald, "How to Meditate"
To probe deep into your roots
The ignorance and confusion are you yourself.
The preconceptions which are yourself
Are envoys and agents sent by yourself.
-"Drinking the Mountain Stream: Songs of Tibet's Beloved Saint, Milarepa"
A name is imposed on what is thought to be a thing or a state and this divides it from other things and other states. But when you pursue what lies behind the name, you find a greater and greater subtlety that has no divisions. Atoms of dust are not really atoms of dust but are merely called that. In the same way, a world is not a world but is merely called that.
If we're looking for outer conditions to bring us contentment, we're looking in vain.
-Ayya Khema, "Be an Island"
An act of meditation is actually an act of faith--of faith in your spirit, in your own potential. Faith is the basis of meditation. Not of faith in something outside you--a metaphysical Buddha, an unattainable ideal, or someone else's words. The faith is in yourself, in your own "Buddha-nature." You too can be a Buddha, an awakened being that lives and responds in a wise, creative, and compassionate way.
-Martine Batchelor, "Meditation for Life"
Eventually we will find (mostly in retrospect, of course) that we can be very grateful to those people who have made life most difficult for us.
-Ayya Khema, "When the Iron Eagle Flies"
It is essential that you neither despise nor grasp for either the realm of activity or that of quietude, and that you continue your practice assiduously. Frequently you may feel that you are getting nowhere with practice in the midst of activity, whereas the quietistic approach brings unexpected results. Yet rest assured that those who use the quietistic approach can never hope to enter into meditation in the midst of activity.
-Hakuin, "Zen Master Hakuin"
Since the old days, it is said that "anger is the fire in one's mind that burns away all of one's virtuous deeds." Anger should be absolutely surrendered.
-Jae Woong Kim, "Polishing the Diamond"
Having drunk the sweetness of solitude and also the sweetness of tranquility, one becomes free from fear and wrongdoing while drinking the sweetness of the joy of truth.
There simply is nothing to which we can attach ourselves, no matter how hard we try. In time, things will change and the conditions that produced our current desires will be gone. Why then cling to them now?
-Master Hsing Yun, "The Indescribable"
A layman who has chosen to practice this Dhamma should not indulge in the drinking of intoxicants. He should not drink them nor encourage others to do so, realizing that it leads to madness. Through intoxication foolish people perform evil deeds and cause other heedless people to do likewise. He should avoid intoxication, this occasion for demerit, which stupefies the mind, and is the pleasure of foolish people.
If we have...presence of mind then whatever work we do will be the very tool which enables us to know right and wrong continually. There's plenty of time to meditate, we just don't fully understand the practice, that's all. While sleeping we breathe, eating we breathe, don't we? Why don't we have time to meditate? Wherever we are we breathe. If we think like this then our life has as much value as our breath, wherever we are we have time.
-Ajahn Chah, "Taste of Freedom"
The one whose mind knows the clarity of perfect wisdom is never afraid or even anxious. Why? Because when being at one with the living power of wisdom, the mother of all the buddhas, that person has the strength to remain in a state of undivided contemplation even while ceaselessly and skillfully engaging in compassionate action. The wise one is enabled to act because of concentration on a single prayer: "May all beings never leave the path of enlightenment, which is their own true nature and is empty of separate self-existence."
When a person has lived properly and acted generously, he grasps the way things are. He is not dependent on attachments; he is free from anger and aversions; what he does becomes perfect action.
The pureness of perfectly balanced action based on seeing the way things are--this is freedom and the ending of ignorance.
-Sutta Nipata From "Buddha Speaks," edited by Anne Bancroft, 2000
The mind is something more radiant than anything else can be, but because counterfeits--passing defilements--come and obscure it, it loses its radiance, like the sun when obscured by clouds. Don't go thinking that the sun goes after the clouds. Instead, the clouds come drifting along and obscure the sun.
-Ajaan Mun, "Heart Released"
Monks, I say there is no wicked deed that may not be committed by...the human being who has transgressed in one thing. What one thing? I mean, the intentional uttering of a falsehood.
If your mind becomes firm like a rock
And no longer shakes
In a world where everything is shaking,
Your mind will be your greatest friend
And suffering will not come your way.
1. Protect life
2. Honor other people's property
3. Maintain sexual purity
4. Be Totally Truthful
5. Speak in ways to bring people together
6. Speak gently
7. Speak meaningfully
8. Rejoice in other's victories
9. Be empathetic for other people's losses
10. Maintain a Buddhist perspective (help others)