Category Archives: Quotes

Train yourself

Bhavana Society forest Buddha

Words of the Buddha

Train yourself in doing good
that lasts and brings happiness.
Cultivate generosity, the life of peace,
and a mind of boundless love.

Puññameva so sikkheyya
āyataggaṃ sukhudrayaṃ.
Dānañca samacariyañca,
mettacittañca bhāvaye.

Itivuttaka 1.22

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NOTE: The Buddhist Pali canon, the collection of the Buddha’s teachings, is written in the Pali language (as seen above), which was recorded in Sinhala script some 500 years after the Buddha died. There remains uncertainty of the exact language in which the Buddha taught and whether it was a variant of what came to be Pali. See this thread about the subject for more and this one.

Change your life

“Putting the Buddha’s discovery into practice is no quick fix. It can take years. The most important qualification at the beginning is a strong desire to change your life by adopting new habits and learning to see the world anew.”

~ Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, “Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness,” pg. 3 (Wisdom Publications, 2015)

Quote and image courtesy of the Bhavana Society Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BhavanaSocietyWV

singing along to the mind’s song

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“Ajaan Lee used to say that there are two steps to getting started in the meditation. One is to get your body into position…The next step is to get your mind in position. And that’s more difficult because the mind doesn’t usually want to stay in any one particular position. It’s always running around, always quick like a high-strung cat to jump at anything that comes along. Ajaan Mun once talked about “the mind’s song.” There are rhythms that go through the body, rhythms that seem to go through our awareness. And we start singing along with them without really realizing it, and then we’re off wherever the melody will take us. When we put the mind in position, we stop singing along. We just watch what’s going on….
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…We come here to meditate to help heal the mind from all the damage it does to itself. We tend to think more of the stress coming in from outside, but actually, we’re playing along with the outside stress, we’re singing along with the outside stress, which is why it gets into the mind.
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So we come here, close our eyes, sit in a still position, and give the mind a chance to wash out all the unhealthy energies it’s picked up. This is a good thing to be doing, but it would be even better if we could maintain this position of the observer all the time. That’s a healthy lifestyle for the mind. This is what you want to try to do as the mind gets accustomed to settling down with the breath. Not only when you’re sitting here, but also when you get up and start moving around: Try to maintain this same inner position, this same inner posture of being the observer.
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And try to notice when you lose it. That’s a sign you’ve run across something important: one of those tricks the mind plays on itself to go someplace it knows it shouldn’t. That’s one of the reasons for these lapses. The other is that it simply forgets itself and just starts singing along with whatever thought comes along, whatever mood comes along.
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These things seem to have so much reality simply because we sing along with them. But if you can maintain the position of the observer, you watch these things as they come, and you begin to see the damage they can do if you take them in. You realize that you have the choice. You don’t have to play along with them, you don’t have to sing along with them, you don’t have to take them in. You’re now in a position of strength, a position where you can watch, where you can see these things simply as events rather than as the worlds to enter into…”
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Thanissaro Bhikkhu
“”The Mind’s Song
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http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writings/CrossIndexed/Published/Meditations3/0305n5b1%20M3%20The%20Mind’s%20Song.pdf

(Quote from The Skillful Teachings of Thanissaro Bhhikku Facebook group)

 

AFTER THE ELECTION

buddha_stonefaceWherever you fall on the political spectrum (or non-spectrum, as the case may be), here is some food for thought, post-election:

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Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard posted the following quote to his blog, which upon first reading seemed like direct commentary upon the post-election jitters. But then note the source and date of the quote:

The underlying sense of uneasiness that we have now is actually a good thing: it is the expression of our sensitivity. Those who go through life without feeling ill at ease are unconscious. The uneasy feeling caused by our awareness holds tremendous potential for transformation. It is a treasure of energy that we can grasp with both hands and use to build something better. Indifference doesn’t lead anywhere.

JIGME KHYENTSE RINPOCHE (b. 1964) Oral advice transcribed by the author.

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And the staff of the Buddhist publication “Lion’s Roar” released a special roundup, titled “After the Election: Buddhist Wisdom for Hope and Healing” in which  the day after the  election, they asked some of America’s leading Buddhist teachers to offer their comments, advice and teachings to address how so many of us were feeling. (Thanks to Patrick Hamilton for passing this on.) The special edition is available as a downloadable PDF file. Here are some samplings:

“Cultivating the mind of love is so crucial. When love is the ground of our being, a love ethic shapes our participation in politics. To work for peace and justice we begin with the individual practice of love, because it is there that we can experience firsthand love’s transformative power.” ~ bell hooks

“It’s OK to freak out, grieve, and vent for a while. Then we can get back to work, as always, for the good.” —Norman Fischer

“When we look at the world around us — our immediate world and the bigger world beyond — we see a lot of difficulty and dysfunction. The news we hear is mostly bad news, and that makes us afraid. It can be quite discouraging. Yet we could actually derive inspiration for our warriorship, for our bodhisattva path, from these dire circumstances. We could recognize the fact, and proclaim the fact, that we are needed.” —Pema Chodron

Where we take our mindfulness

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“We take our training in mindfulness with us into our everyday lives and apply it in all circumstances: on the bus, at work, when we are feeling ill, when we are out shopping. Otherwise, what’s the use of so many hours on the cushion?” P.85

-Bhante Gunaratana
from “Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness: Walking the path of the Buddha.” Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications (2001).
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Quotebox courtesy of the Facebook page of the Bhavana Society Therevadan Forest Monastery in Highview, W.Va.

Gradual training

“The gradual training essentially involves learning how to quiet down and observe your thoughts and behavior and then to change them into something more conductive to meditation and awareness. It is a slow process, not to be hurried.”   p16-17

~ Bhante Gunaratana
(from “Eight mindful steps to happiness: Walking the path of the Buddha.” Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications.)

Quote courtesy of the Bhavana Society Facebook page

Daily Words of the Buddha

buddha_rightside

Dadato puññaṃ pavaḍḍhati;
Saṃyamato veraṃ na cīyati;
Kusalo ca jahāti pāpakaṃ,
Rāgadosamohakkhayā sanibbuto.

Listen: http://host.pariyatti.org/dwob/digha_nikaya_2_197.mp3

Who gives, one’s virtues shall increase;
Who is self-curbed, no hatred bears;
Who so is skilled in virtue, evil shuns,
And by the rooting out of lust and hate
And all delusion, comes to be at peace.

Dīgha Nikāya 2.197

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Quote courtesy of Bhavana Society Facebook page:

 

A loving friendliness meditation for 2016

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Here is a loving-friendliness meditation for the start of 2016. This comes from the 20th anniversary edition of Bhante Gunaratana’s classic primer on Buddhist meditation practice, “Mindfulness in Plain English” and the concluding chapter “The Power of Loving Friendliness.” Bhante G writes:

I’d like to offer another way to practice loving friendliness. Again, you start out in this meditation by banishing thoughts of self-hatred and condemnation. At the beginning of a meditation session, say the following sentences to yourself. And again, really feel the intention:

May my mind be filled with the thoughts of loving-friendliness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity. May I be generous. May I be gentle. May I be relaxed. May I be happy and peaceful. May I be healthy. May my heart become soft. May my words be pleasing to others. May my actions be kind.

May all that I see, hear, smell, taste, touch, and think help me to cultivate loving friendliness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity. May all these experiences help me to cultivate thoughts of generosity and gentleness. May they all help me to relax. May they inspire friendly behavior. May these experiences be a source of peace and happiness. May they help me be free from fear, tension, anxiety, worry, and restlessness.

No matter where I go in the world, in any direction, may I greet people with happiness, peace, and friendliness. May I be protected in all directions from greed, anger, aversion, hatred, jealousy, and fear.

 

Just stay

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Image courtesy of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_meditation
“In meditation we discover our inherent restlessness. The pith instruction is to stay….stay….just stay. So whenever we wander off we gently encourage ourselves to stay and settle down. Are we experiencing restlessness? Stay. Discursive mind? Stay.  Are fear and loathing out of control? Stay. Aching knees and throbbing back? Stay. What’s for lunch? Stay. What am I doing here? Stay. I can’t stand this another minute! Stay. This is how we cultivate steadfastness.
~ Pema Chodron
from “The Places That Scare You”

Continue reading Just stay

On Spiritual Friends

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“There is no big difference between a spiritual friend and a teacher, because one plays both roles in spiritual matters. Someone who strives for liberation from suffering needs a spiritual friend until they attain liberation. So a spiritual friend would not say, “I have played my role. Now you are on your own.” Rather he would say to you, “Come any time you need help. Don’t forget to ask me any questions. I am available to you any time. Whenever you have any difficulty, remember, I am here waiting to help you. Don’t think you are alone. I am here.”

“Spiritual friends give you a sense of security. You always feel someone is paying attention to your spiritual needs. You feel there is somebody to help you. You don’t feel as if they will ignore you. A spiritual friend is there to help guide you in the right direction.”

~Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
“Preserving the Dhamma” (page 206).

Bhavana Society Forest Monastery (2007). www.bhavanasociety.org
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(Quote courtesy of the Bhavana Society Facebook page)