Category Archives: Quotes

We Can Compare Notes

Singing Goldfinch by OlaLiola on Etsy.com

A bird in a secluded grove sings like a flute.
Willows sway gracefully with their golden threads.
The mountain valley grows the quieter
As the clouds return.
A breeze brings along the fragrance
Of apricot flowers.
For a whole day I have sat here
Encompassed by peace,
Till my mind is cleansed in and out
Of all cares and idle thoughts.
I wish to tell you how I feel,
But words fail me.
If you come to this grove,
We can compare notes.

~ Fa-yen

Like a Cup of Muddy Water

“The mind before meditation is like a cup of muddy water. If you hold the cup still, the mud settles and the water clears. Similarly, if you keep quiet, holding your body still and focusing your attention on your object of meditation, your mind will settle down and you will begin to experience the joy of meditation.”

~Bhante Gunaratana
8 Mindful Steps to Happiness,” p. 18

Patience, Patience, Patience

“Don’t rush. There is no hurry, so take your time. Settle yourself on a cushion and sit as though you have the whole day. Anything really valuable takes time to develop. Patience, patience, patience.”

~ Bhante Gunaratana, from “Mindfulness in Plain English”

NOTE: For more Bhante G quotes, see the @BhavanaVisitor Twitter feed or follow the Bhavana Society page on Facebook

A flower has no intention of making us happy

Photo by Tanalee Youngblood on Unsplash

“WHEN WE SEE A FLOWER, we think, ‘How pretty.  I like looking at this.’ The feeling is one of acceptance.  Seeing a cockroach, however, may cause revulsion and rejection.  We may experience feelings like ‘I don’t want to see that.  It’s disgusting.  I wish it would go away.’

“So, who is doing all this accepting and rejecting?  The answer, of course, is your own mind.  We make these decisions as we see the world around us with our eyes, hear it with our ears, and feel it with our bodies.  Acceptance of something gives rise to attachment, rejection to anger.  Therefore, we can see that the true source of anger lies in the individual, not in the object.  Objects are neutral.  A flower has no intention of making us happy; neither does a cockroach intend to cause repulsion.  Every individual’s perception is fixed by his or her attitude.

“Let us say that all of us are wearing colored glasses.  These glasses are the difference between whether one lives in the light of contentment or in the darkness of dissatisfaction.  The Buddha provides instructions to remove the glasses and correct our vision, but the responsibility of actually taking the glasses off falls entirely upon the individual.  Please do not wait until a mystical being intervenes.  That will never happen.”

~ Venerable Sumanasara
from “Freedom From Anger, Understand It, Overcoming It, and Finding Joy,” p. 12

How Much Is enough?

“Monks, if you want to be free from suffering, you should contemplate knowing how much is enough. By knowing it you are in the place of enjoyment and peacefulness.

“If you know how much is enough, you are contented even when you sleep on the ground. If you don’t know it, you are discontented even when you are in heaven.

“You can feel poor even if you have much wealth. You may be constantly pulled by the five sense desires and pitied by those who know how much is enough. This is called “to know how much is enough.”

~ The Buddha

“Refuge: The Heart’s Own Knowing”

Swirled circle planet photo by David Imbrogno | cowgarage.com
NOTE: Thanisssara will offer an online teaching on “Refuge: The Heart’s Own Knowing,” on SUNDAY Sept. 29, 2019. Register here at WorldwideInsight.org., the site of an online Dharma practice group. The teachings are given in the Buddhist tradition of dana: “The Buddhist tradition views teachings of liberation as priceless, and this online class is offered in the spirit of generosity, called Dana. The teacher is directly supporting your practice. Please support her / him directly, through your generosity.



Our practice is preparation for when real challenges hit.” – Ajahn Chah

It’s important to recognize that we are living in extremely challenging times, and because of this, we are going to experience some very painful and disturbing bodily feelings, emotions, and mind states.

When the norms and forms of life we are used to radically change, we can become very triggered and overwhelmed. Our nervous system deregulates and old traumas can activate destabilizing our sense of cohesion and focus. Feelings of profound fear, anxiety, panic, outrage, shock, despair, disorientation can arise, and when they do, we need to take extra special care. To pause and recognize that there’s nothing wrong with us, that actually what is felt is an appropriate response to a fast dismembering world.

So, as profound uncertainty deepens and intensifies within and all around, our Dharma practice becomes ever more vital. The ground and heart of this practice is alignment with Refuge. This offers a direct connection to sustaining and nourishing qualities of peace, equanimity, joy, clarity, impassioned fearless compassion, discernment, and the confidence to listen ever more deeply into the “here and now” living Dharma.

We are in a time that is inviting us to be more real, more authentic and to let go of what is no longer essential, to forgive it all, and to trust the capacity of the heart’s ability to regenerate and hone to integrity and love.

It’s a time when each breath becomes ever more precious and when Rilke’s encouragement is superbly meaningful:

Let everything happen to you, beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.

Thanissara trained in the Forest School of Ajahn Chah as a Buddhist nun for 12 years. She is a Dharma teacher and co-founded Dharmagiri Sacred Mountain Retreat Centre in South Africa and Sacred Mountain Sangha in the US with Kittisaro. She is an author and poet and is currently involved in mobilizing a Buddhist initiative to Declare Climate Emergency Now in the San Francisco Bay area.  

relaxing from THE intensity of fear & ignorance

Simon Migaj photograph | unsplash.com

“In meditation we can begin to tune in on this universal level through letting go of the conditions, of this blind holding to conditioned phenomena. It isn’t annihilation or a rejection of anything; it is just releasing, relaxing from this intensity of fear and ignorance. We try to control and hold on to conditions without realising how painful and miserable it makes us.

“The Buddha advised us to see ‘letting go’ as opening, receiving, and nothing to fear. Space and consciousness, the sound of silence — you don’t create these; they are here and now. But we may never notice or observe them. As we recognise them, we begin to have perspective on conditions.

“In terms of living in society, we do good and refrain from doing bad. We can work for people’s welfare, if we wish, help the educational system, the health system, try to promote harmony between nations and harmony between religions — we can still do all these things. It isn’t that we’re too ethereal for dealing with anything practical. But we recognise conditions for what they are, and we are no longer coming from idealism.”

~Ajahn Sumedho
“The Sound of Silence” | free download at this link

Seeing the Story of “Me”

Image by Charis Gegelman | unsplash.com

Excerpt from “The Buddha’s Advice to Laypeople” blog by Lynne J. Kelley for July 23, 2019. Read whole post here.

The Pali word most often translated into English as mindfulness is sati, and here’s something important Anālayo Bhikkhu has to say about it:

Another aspect of the early Buddhist conception of sati is that mindfulness is a mental quality that we have to bring into being. Mindfulness has to be established; it is not just a quality that is present anyway in any type of experience. This marks the difference between mindfulness and consciousness. Consciousness … is a continuously present process of knowing [which allows us to register experience]. … Whether we are mindful of a meditation object or caught up in a dream or fantasy, the flow of consciousness is always there. The same does not apply to mindfulness.

This is a point that is often overlooked or ignored. Mindfulness includes a clarity about the context of our experience, and there’s a vividness to engaged attention that keeps us planted in the here and now.

When we are not attending fully, we often experience events through a filter we’ve developed over time. We may be looking for ways in which we are being ignored, or treated unfairly, or noticed when we don’t want to be, or even that we’re being appreciated and admired. There tends to be a story about “me” that we reinforce with our observations. So of course, what stands out in our memories are the instances that confirm our ready-made attitudes. Mindfulness with clear comprehension can cut through this way of experiencing our lives.

Ven. Anālayo suggests that we can view sati as our good, supportive, pleasant-to-be-with friend, available whenever we turn towards her (female, as the word sati in Pali is feminine). We may not notice her company for periods, but she is always there for us to share our experience with. 

Excerpt from “The Buddha’s Advice to Laypeople” blog by Lynne J. Kelley for July 23, 2019. Read whole post here.


NOTE: For an interview with Anālayo Bhikkhu and a link to his books, some of which are avaialble for free download, see this link.

Let the Meditation Teach You

Photo by Simon Migaj | unsplash.com

“DON’T EXPECT ANYTHING. Just sit back and see what happens. Treat the whole thing as an experiment. Take an active interest in the test itself, but don’t get distracted by your expectations about the results. For that matter, don’t be anxious for any result whatsoever. Let the meditation move along at its own speed and in its own direction. Let the meditation teach you. Meditative awareness seeks to see reality exactly as it is. Whether that corresponds to your expectations or not, it does require a temporary suspension of all our preconceptions and ideas. We must store our images, opinions, and interpretations out of the way for the duration of the session. Otherwise we will stumble over them.”

~Bhante Gunaratana
from “Mindfulness in Plain English”