“DON’T EXPECT TRANSFORMATION or success to happen quickly. Some of us may find meditation to be easy at first, especially in its simplest form of observing the breath or repeating phrases, but while such practices can provide some immediate payoffs, such as serenity, the real insights take many years, if not decades, to experience. As we Dharma punx are wont to say: if you want to see how well your practice is going, take an overview every ten years; any sooner is impatience. It’s better to prepare yourself for the long haul by thinking of this change as a lifelong practice. If you try to make progress on a short timeline, it’s easy to get discouraged when we don’t see the results that we want — as quickly as we want to see them. The truth is that your commitment is not about measurable progress and timetables. You’re not finishing a project; you are pursuing a calling.”
from “Unsubscribe: Opt out of Delusion, Tune Into Truth” (Wisdom)
How to cope with wavering thoughts?
Versatile are flying clouds,
Yet from the sky they’re not apart.
Mighty are the ocean’s waves,
Yet they are not separate from the sea.
Heavy and thick are banks of fog,
Yet from the air they’re not apart.
Frantic runs the mind in voidness,
Yet from the Void it never separates.
(Quote courtesy of DailyZen.com)
“When you come to sit in concentration, then even if your mind isn’t yet quiet, simply sitting in the meditation posture is something good. It’s better than people who don’t even do that much.
“It’s like being hungry, but today there’s only rice, with nothing to go with it. We feel disgruntled, but I’d say that it’s better than having no rice at all. Eating plain rice is better than not eating anything, right? If all you have is plain rice, eat that for the time being.
“It’s better than not eating anything at all. The same with this: Even if we know only a little about how to practice, it’s still good.”
~ Venerable Ajahn Chah
From ‘It’s Like This”
(Download .pdf of book at this link)
Translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Only when the mind
Is settled can it become quiet.
Only when the mind
Is quiet can it become still.
Only when the mind
Is still can it see.
And only when the mind can see,
Can it reach the mystery of mysteries.
This is the process
That anyone who
Practices has to go through.
How long it takes
Is up to the individual.
(Quote courtesy of DailyZen.com)
Image from this website talk on papanca
The important thing is to sustain moment to moment awareness of the mind. If you are really caught in mental proliferation, then gather it all together, and contemplate it in terms of being one whole, cut it off right from the start, saying, “All these thoughts, ideas, and imaginings of mine are simply simply thought proliferation and nothing more. It’s all anicca, dukkha, and anatta. None of it is certain at all.”
Discard it right there.
Have faith in the Buddha’s path to happiness that so many people have followed to enlightenment. Faith, in Buddhist terms, means confidence–confidence based on what you have seen so far, and confidence in what you can project to be true based on what you have seen. For example, you have personally observed that whenever you were full of negative mental states, you suffered. You recall that whenever you were full of positive states of mind, you felt happy. When all these states changed you saw their impermanence. These are facts. You can have confidence in this. This kind of confidence keeps you on course until a deep realization of truth leaves no more room for doubt.
from “Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness” pp. 154-155 (Wisdom Publications)
“Just taking the posture of meditation, sitting up, arouses energy and confidence. It’s a gesture of bravery, a silent proclamation of fearlessness: we commit ourselves to working with any state of mind that arises – sadness and excitement, boredom and joy, fear and desire. They’re all welcome, fundamentally welcome.”
from “Natural Wakefulness”
… Hindrances cannot arise when mindfulness is present. Mindfulness is attention to present-moment reality, and therefore, directly antithetical to the dazed state of mind that characterizes impediments. As meditators, it is only when we let our mindfulness slip that the deep mechanisms of our mind take over–grasping, clinging, and rejecting. The resistance emerges and obscures our awareness. We do not notice that the change is taking place–we are too busy with a thought of revenge, or greed, or whatever it may be. While an untrained person will continue in this state indefinitely, a trained meditator will soon realize what is happening. It is mindfulness that notices the change. It is mindfulness that remembers the training received and that focuses our attention so that the confusion fades away. And it is mindfulness that then attempts to maintain itself indefinitely so that the resistance cannot rise again. Thus, mindfulness is the specific antidote for hindrances. It is both the cure and the preventive measure.
~ Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
“Mindfulness in Plain English” (Updated and Expanded Edition), p.146. (Wisdom Publications, 2002)
“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
Wherever 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
“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
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.
“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
“Meditation is offering your genuine presence to yourself in every moment.” ~ Thich Naht Hanh
“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”
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