Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

letting go

Judy Lief teaches us to walk through life without holding on. - From Tricycle

IN OUR FAST-PACED SOCIETY, letting go is often paired with moving on. People encourage friends who have suffered a loss to learn to let go of the past and get on with living. In New Age terminology, “just let go” has become an all-purpose piece of advice. But we humans are very cunning: While we talk a lot about letting go, we usually find a way to have our cake and eat it, too—to let go and still manage to hang on. In fact, it is easy to use the notion of letting go as yet another ego-tool. We can use it to prop ourselves up, to cloud things over, and uphold our illusion of solidity. We are so clever: we can take a concept like letting go, so threatening to our ego-fixation, and turn it completely on its head, so that instead it becomes a credential, an ego adornment. We can take pride in our letting go and revel in how pure we are now that we have pared down and simplified and become so much less materialistic. We can mask our laziness by seeing it instead as a letting go of ambition; we can mask our inability to connect with other people with the more spiritual notion of letting go of frivolous attachments. The possibilities are endless. So if we are to deepen our understanding of letting go, it is important to begin with an insight into how easily it can be distorted. Then we may be able to discriminate between a pretense of letting go and the real thing.

Continue reading here

Picture from Tricycle

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


In the mountain, stillness surges up
to explore its own height;
in the lake, movement stands still
to contemplate its own depth.

R. Tagore, Fireflies

Monday, December 21, 2009

i know i've loved you before

I've Loved You Before

When there's no one else
that makes me whole
i get this feeling
That i've loved you before.

Were we lovers in an army
marching all for Rome?
Side by side in battle
Did we bravely leave our home?

Did i hold you in my arms
As you were taking your last breath?
Did i shout to all the Gods
that i would love you beyond death?

Have i wondered through the desert?
Have i looked and learned all the stars?
Have i rode the days and nights
on rails to get back where you are?
And every time i floundered
It's your eyes i know for sure.

I know, i've loved you before
I've loved you before

Melissa Etheridge

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

troublesome mind

By Priya Devi R, OneIndia, Dec 14, 2009

New Delhi, India -- A Buddhist story about freeing oneself from the tyranny of thoughts, paving way for a silent mind. A short story about leading one from the mind to the no mind, a state of eternal peace. Gautama Buddha one day asked one of his disciples to beg alms from a certain household and report to him at dusk. The monk returned to the master as per his command only to let him know that he would not beg for alms in that particular house again. When pressed for the reason, the monk answered, " I savoured the delicious food served and I suddenly felt an urge to eat something sweet. The lady of the house offered me a sweet dish. I then felt like sleeping and the lady immediately asked me to rest for a while. I was surprised by her ability to read my thoughts that I asked how she knew of my desires?"

"The lady replied, 'Witnessing my thoughts, my mind has become silent now that I can now see other thoughts as well."

The monk continued to Buddha, " Looking at her I had sexual thoughts also and now I am embarrassed to see her again for alms as she would have read my sensual desire as well. So I do not want to visit her house for alms"
The Buddha said that the monk ought to go to the particular house for alms again. He advised, "This time you will go as a changed person. Just be aware of your thoughts, every bite of your food and every step that you take. You will just have to watch every thought that arises, but do not co-operate with it . Disassociate with it and do not analyze it. No thought is yours, they come from outside!"

The monk did as advised by Gautama Buddha. He remained a mere witness to his thoughts and there was no co-operation from his end. There was a change within him, an inner peace, though the world continued to remain the same.

The one and only trouble is one's own mind. When one knows one's true self, the mind ceases to be.

Taken from Buddhist Channel

Picture: All Rights Reserved ® aml.2008

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Ven. Dr. Yifa’s Response to the Bhikkhuni Ordination at Perth

Los Angeles, CA (USA) -- Thirty years ago, I visited a Buddhist monastery for the first time in my life. Two weeks later, I decided to shave my head and become a nun. At the time, I was a student at the law school of National Taiwan University, and wanted to be a lawyer or even a politician. I had felt, since I was a child, great sympathy toward the suppressed classes in society and was attracted to fairness and justice. These have been the guiding values in my life.

Continue reading at Buddhist Channel

Saturday, October 24, 2009

becoming better

‘Things might not always become better,
but we can always become better,
and that can always make things better.’


Picture: All Rights Reserved ® aml.2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Center for Investigating Healthy Minds

The Center for Investigating Healthy Minds is located within the Waisman Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, we are a research Center dedicated to creating a world in which healthy qualities of mind flourish. The Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, through hard-nosed basic and translational scientific research, will help to pave the way toward more widespread incorporation of methods and practices to nourish positive qualities of mind throughout society. The work and research of this Center is at the forefront of the scientific and scholarly communities, and has led to the development of a new hybrid discipline – contemplative neuroscience. In a global era where individuals, communities and the world are reconnecting with the pursuit of happiness, well-being and contentment and seeking innovative and mindful solutions to achieve it, the Center offers facts about interventions and methods grounded both in research and the wisdom of contemplative traditions.

The Center for Investigating Healthy Minds conducts rigorous interdisciplinary research on naturally occurring and cultivated positive qualities of mind such as kindness, compassion and focused attention. Although our core approach is neuroscientific, we examine every level of analysis from experience to molecular processes. The Center engages in local and global outreach and aims to become an authoritative source for scientific research on the healthy mind.

Center for Investigating Healthy Minds

Friday, September 25, 2009


So this holy life, bhikkhus, does not have gain, honour, and renown for its benefit, or the attainment of virtue for its benefit, or the attainment of concentration for its benefit, or knowledge and vision for its benefit. But it is this unshakeable deliverance of mind that is the goal of this holy life, its heartwood, and its end.

Majjhima Nikaya

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Here, Ananda, having gone to the forest, to the foot of a tree or to an empty hut,
a monk reflects thus: “This is peaceful, this is sublime, that is, the stilling of all formations, the relinquishment
of all acquisitions, the destruction of craving, cessation, Nibbana.”

Anguttara Nikaya

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

measured by

“Bhikkhu, if one has an underlying tendency towards something, then one is measured in accordance with it; if one is measured in accordance with something, then one will be reckoned in terms of it. If one does not have an underlying tendency towards something, then one is not measured in accordance with it; if one is not measured in accordance with something, then one will not be reckoned in terms of it... If... one has an underlying tendency towards material form, feeling, perception, mental formations or consiousness then one will be measured in accordance with it; if one is measured in accordance with it, then one will be reckoned in terms of it. If one has no underlying tendency towards material form, feeling, perception, mental formations or consiousness then one will not be measured in accordance with it; if one is not measured in accordance with it, then one will not be reckoned in terms of it.”

Samyutta Nikaya

Monday, September 21, 2009


Atammayatæ is the utter abandonment of this root delusion: one sees that in ultimate truth there is no time, no self, no here and no there. So rather than “Be here now” as a spiritual exhortation, perhaps instead we should say: “Let go of identity, space and time,” or: “Realize unlocated, timeless selflessness.” Needless to say, the conceptual mind falls flat when trying to conjure up an image for such a reality but that is to be expected. We are consciously leaving the realm of the conceivable, and the purpose of this book is to provide something of a map for those regions where the buses of reason and imagination do not run.

It is also quite possible that, on reading these passages on Atammayatæ, the mind wants to grasp it as “some thing to get so that ‘I’ won’t be so deluded” rather than seeing it as a restraining of the habitual outward movement of the mind that comes as a
result of disenchantment and dispassion. It is always necessary to be aware of the way that ignorance causes even the means of transcendence to become an obstacle, if the mind does not handle it wisely.

This is to say that if, with mindfulness and wisdom, the tendency to ‘go out’ into perceptions, thoughts and emotions is restrained, and one just allows seeing to be seeing, hearing to be hearing etc., the whole papañca-drama does not get launched in the first place. The heart then rests at ease, open and clear; all perceptions conventionally labelled as ‘myself’ or ‘the world’ are seen as transparent, if convenient, fictions. When there is insufficient mindfulness and wisdom, the mind ‘goes out’ and attaches to its perceptions and moods, the result of which is the experience of ‘me being pressured by life.’ Both an apparently solid self and a solid world have been unconsciously created, and the friction between the two is the dukkha that
we find ourselves running from so regularly and ineffectively. Trying to find a ‘me’ without a world that burdens it is like trying to run away from our own shadow; no matter how hard we run, the effort is bound to fail as the one form generates
the other.

The aim of all these teachings on Atammayatæ is to show us that the dualities of subject and object (‘me and the world’), do not have to be brought into being at all. And when the heart is restrained from ‘going out,’ and awakens to its fundamental
nature, a bright and joyful peace is what remains. This is the peace of Nibbæna.

The Island, Ajahn Pasanno & Ajahn Amaro
Abhayagiri Monastery

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ajahn Chah - no abiding

“The worldly way is to do things for a reason, to get some return, but in Buddhism we do things without any gaining idea. The
world has to understand things in terms of cause and effect, but the Buddha teaches us to go above and beyond cause and effect. His wisdom was to go above cause, beyond effect; to go above birth and beyond death; to go above happiness and beyond suffering.

Think about it: there’s nowhere to stay. We people live in a home. To leave home and go where there is no home – we don’t know
how to do that, because we’ve always lived with becoming, with clinging. If we can’t cling we don’t know what to do.”

Ajahn Chah, ‘No Abiding,’ in ‘Food for the Heart,’

Friday, September 18, 2009

no self or not-self?

One of the first stumbling blocks that Westerners often encounter when they learn about Buddhism is the teaching on anatta, often translated as no-self. This teaching is a stumbling block for two reasons. First, the idea of there being no self doesn't fit well with other Buddhist teachings, such as the doctrine of kamma and rebirth: If there's no self, what experiences the results of kamma and takes rebirth? Second, it doesn't fit well with our own Judeo-Christian background, which assumes the existence of an eternal soul or self as a basic presupposition: If there's no self, what's the purpose of a spiritual life? Many books try to answer these questions, but if you look at the Pali canon — the earliest extant record of the Buddha's teachings — you won't find them addressed at all. In fact, the one place where the Buddha was asked point-blank whether or not there was a self, he refused to answer. When later asked why, he said that to hold either that there is a self or that there is no self is to fall into extreme forms of wrong view that make the path of Buddhist practice impossible. Thus the question should be put aside. To understand what his silence on this question says about the meaning of anatta, we first have to look at his teachings on how questions should be asked and answered, and how to interpret his answers.


Noble Strategy, Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Island - Buddha's teachings on Nibbana

Read latest publication: The Island - An Anthology on Buddha's Teachings on Nibbana by Ajahn Pasanno and Ajahn Amaro

The Island by Ajahn Pasanno and Ajahn Amaro

Picture taken from Abhayagiri Monastery

Monday, August 31, 2009

meditate on death

If you want to help other people overcome their fear of death, you have to learn how to overcome your own fear of death as well, by abandoning attachment to the body, abandoning attachment to sensual pleasures, avoiding cruel actions, and gaining direct insight into the Deathless. With your fears overcome, you’ll be much more effective in teaching the Dharma to those on their deathbed. You won’t be disturbed by the physical horrors of death, you’ll be able to communicate directly to the needs of the dying person, and your words will carry more weight, for they come from direct experience.

Your compassion will be educated not by books or feelings, but by a clear insight into what dies and what doesn’t. Ultimately, these two lessons boil down to one: Meditate, as an act of compassion both for yourself and for others, even if death seems far away. When the time comes to die, you’ll be less of a burden on those who are caring for you. In the meantime, if you’re called on to comfort those who are sick or dying, your compassion will be more genuinely helpful, and you’ll have a more effective
message to teach.

Purity of Heart, Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Monday, August 24, 2009

Thanissaro Bhikkhu: head & heart together

Thanisarro Bhikkhu's 2009 Saskatchewan Retreat "Head & Heart Together: Bringing Wisdom to the Brahmaviharas"

Introduction: The brahmaviharas - attitudes of limitless goodwill, compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity - are the Buddha's primary "heart" teachings. Yet he never distinguished between issues of heart and head: The more you can get your head around his explanation of causality, the easier it is to make the heart's attitudes more expansive. This course - using readings, talks, discussion, and meditation - is devoted to exploring how this is so. Topics will include exploring how an understanding of kamma helps in removing limits from one's goodwill and equanimity; understanding the conditions needed for fostering healthy emotions from a Buddhist perspective; and finally, discussing the role of the brahmaviharas in the context of Buddhist practice as a whole.

For audio downloads, pls go to:
Dhamma Talks

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Traveling down a more balanced path
By Sapna Pathak, The Boston Globe, August 16, 2009
St. John’s O’Leary finds answers in Buddhism

Boston, MA (USA) -- The son of devout Catholics, Jimmy O’Leary spent his Sundays as a child at his family’s local church, where he was baptized and received his First Communion. But when it came to improving his game on the soccer field, and tuning his mental approach, O’Leary turned to Buddhism.

“I don’t know, it just helped me look at things from different points of view,’’ said O’Leary, entering his junior year at St. John’s Prep, an all-boys Catholic school in Danvers.

“I can collect myself more, I’m more grounded during a game, and I’m taking a different mental approach than I was before. It’s touched on a lot of my life, really, not just soccer.’’

This fall, the North Reading resident plans on taking his interest in Buddhism to the classroom; he has spent the summer working with his teachers to detail an independent study in Buddhism to add to his schedule.

O’Leary discovered Buddhism prior to his sophomore season. The ancient Eastern religion piqued O’Leary’s interest enough to prompt him to head to the library regularly to read books and articles on the subject.

By the start of the season, he was applying Buddhist principles to soccer.

Rene Novoa, his coach with the FC Vikings, noticed a difference.

“He was always a good leader, but he always wanted to make things happen and wanted to be the one who did it,’’ said Novoa, who began coaching O’Leary six years ago. “All of a sudden, he was more calm, he was more collected when things didn’t go his way. He’s developed into my go-to guy, but his mental maturity is now catching up with his physical skills.’’

Novoa named O’Leary captain of the Vikings, a title he will most likely earn for his senior year at the Prep.

O’Leary is currently reading “The Middle Way,’’ written by the Dalai Lama, which teaches one not to live in the extremes, but to remain balanced at all times.

A speedy, agile defender at 5 feet 8 and 150 pounds, O’Leary even imparts this balanced outlook to the children he works with as a camp counselor at St. John’s Camp Christopher.

“I find myself thinking more comparatively, like what would a Buddhist do versus what a Christian do in certain situations,’’ said O’Leary. “That helps me make choices, both on and off the field.

It’s all about balance, there has to be a balance during a soccer game with who is doing things. I’m trying to keep everything balanced.’’

Read More

Monday, August 03, 2009

story of a butterfly

"A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day, a small opening appeared; he sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no farther.

Then the man decided to help the butterfly, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.

The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.

Neither happened. In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.

What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were nature's way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If nature allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been.

And we could never fly."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

a tree with no name

There is a tree by the river and we have been watching it day after day for several weeks when the sun is about to rise. As the sun slowly rises over the horizon, over the trees, this particular tree becomes all of a sudden golden. All the leaves are bright with life, and as you watch it as the hours pass by, that tree whose name does not matter - what matters is that beautiful tree - an extraordinary quality seems to spread all over the land, over the river. And as the sun rises a little higher the leaves begin to flutter, to dance. And each hour seems to give to that tree a different quality. Before the sun rises it has a sombre feeling, quiet, far away, full of dignity. And as the day begins, the leaves with the light on them dance and give it that peculiar feeling that one has of great beauty. By midday, its shadow has deepened and you can sit there protected from the sun, never feeling lonely, with the tree as your companion. As you sit there, there is a relationship of deep abiding security and a freedom that only trees can know.

Krishnamurti to himself - His Last Journal

For free e-books on Krishnamurti, click

Thursday, July 09, 2009

hard to comprehend

Forms, sounds, odours, tastes,
Tactiles and all objects of mind -
Desirable, lovely, agreeable,
So long as it's said: "They are."

There are considered happiness
By the world with its devas;
But where they cease,
That they consider suffering.

The noble ones have seen as happiness
The ceasing of identity.
This [view] of those who clearly see
Runs counter to the entire world.

What others speak of as happiness,
That the noble ones say is suffering;
What others speak of as suffering,
That the noble ones know as bliss.

Behold this Dhamma hard to comprehend:
Here the foolish are bewildered.
For those with blocked minds it is obscure.
Sheer darkness for those who do not see.

But for the good it is disclosed,
It is light here for those who see.
The dullards unskilled in the Dhamma
Don't understand it in its presence.

This Dhamma isn't easily understood
By those afflicted with lust for existence,
Who flow along in the stream of existence,
Deeply mired in Mara's realm.

Who else apart from the noble ones
Are able to understand this state?
When they have rightly known that state,
The taintless ones are fully quenched.

Samyutta Nikaya - Salayatanasamyutta

Picture: All Rights Reserved ® aml.2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009



A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life by Shantideva

translated into English by
Stephan Bachelor

for the Library of Tibetan Works & Archives
Dharmshala India

Sunday, June 14, 2009

faith and reason

Bill Moyers on Faith and Reason with Pema Chodron

Part 1

Other parts of the interview are available at YouTube

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Saturday, May 23, 2009


“Mindfulness is the path to the Deathless,
Heedlessness is the path to death.
The mindful never die,
the heedless are as if dead al ready.”


Picture: All Rights Reserved ® aml.2009

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sunday, May 10, 2009

dark places

"Sometimes the road lead through dark places.
Sometimes, the darkness is your friend."

Picture: All Rights Reserved ® aml.2009

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

compassion is space

When you meet the pain of another with fear, it is often called pity.
When you're motivated by pity, you're motivated by a dense self-interest.
When you're motivated by pity, you're acting on the aversion you have to experiencing someone else's predicament.
You want to alleviate their discomfort as a means of alleviating your own.
Pity creates more fear and separation.
When love touches upon the pain of another, it is called compassion.
Compassion is just space.
Whatever that other person is experiencing, you have room for it in your heart.
It becomes work on yourself -to let go, to stay open, to feel that being within you.
When somebody is in incredible pain, though you can't do anything to alleviate it, you don't withdraw.
When people say, "Help me," you stay soft, your hand in theirs, sharing their pain without closing around it.
To have room in your heart for whatever pain arises, not differentiating between "I" and "other" is compassion.

Taken from: Who Dies - An Investigation of Conscious Living and Dying by Stephen Levine

Picture: All Rights Reserved ® aml.2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

is life the incurable disease

Is life the incurable disease?
The infant is born howling
& we laugh,
the dead man smiles
& we cry,
resisting the passage,
always resisting the passage,
that turns life into eternity.

Blake sang alleluias
on his deathbed.
My own grandmother,
hardly a poet at all,
as we'd never seen her smile before.
Perhaps the dress of flesh
is no more than a familiar garment
that grows looser as one diets
on death, & perhaps we discard it
or give it to the poor in spirit,
who have not learned yet
what blessing it is
to go naked?

Erica Jong

Picture: All Rights Reserved ® aml.2009

Sunday, March 29, 2009

inner life

The more inner and the less outer life a novel presents, the higher and nobler will be its purpose... Art consists in achieving the maximum of inner motion with the minimum of outer motion; for it is the inner life which is the true object of our interest.

Arthur Schopenhauer

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Monday, March 23, 2009

an Arahat

(An Arahat's) good actions may appear quite similar to the moral deeds of noble(though unliberated)worldlings, but the Arahat's actions are not motivated by the slightest trace of craving and ignorance. In the Arahat's mind, there is no greed (craving) by way of wishing that his virtue be recognized and appreciated, no delusion (ignorance) by way of a proud satisfaction in "being good", no illusionary expectations as to the result of these good actions; nor is there any other self-reference in any form whatever. An Arahat's good actions are a spontaneous outflow of a fully purified mind and heart, responding without hesitation to situations where help is needed and possible. But though his actions may be inspired by sympathy and compassion, beneath them there is detachment and deep serenity instead of emotional involvement. As long as the momentum of his life-force lasts, the Arahat lives on as an embodiment of wisdom and compassion. But as the Arahat's mind no longer clings to anything, not even to the results of his actions, there is no potentiality left for any future rebirth. The life-nourishing sap conveyed by the roots has ceased to flow, and the roots of continued existence themselves are cut off.

The Roots of Good and Evil by Nyanaponika Thera

Picture: All Rights Reserved aml.2009

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

great silence

The great silences of the desert are not void of sound,
but void of distractions.
One day, this landscape will take
the language out of me.

Terry Tempest Williams

Picture by: Stefan Mendelsohn @ Flickr

Friday, March 06, 2009

transforming pain

Pain is part of our experience of life in a human body. There is no way to escape from feeling pain sooner or later. We often fear pain and feel victimized by it. Being in pain now we may remember pain of the past and anticipate more pain in the future. And pain can remind us that our life span is finite, our connection to life fragile, and beings everywhere experience pain in one way or another.

Continue reading:
Transforming Pain by Roshi Joan Halifax

Picture: All Rights Reserved aml.2008

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Mindfulness has, if we may personify it, a rather unassuming character. Compared with it, mental factors such as devotion, energy, imagination and intelligence are certainly more colourful personalities, making an immediate and strong impacct on people and situations. Their conquests are sometimes rapid and vast, though often insecure.

Mindfulness, on the other hand, is of an unobtrusive nature. Its virtues shine inwardly, and in ordinary life most of its merits are passed on to other mental faculties which generally receive all the credit. One must know mindfulness well and cultivate its acquaintance before one can appreciate its value and its silent penetrative influence. Mindfulness walks slowly and deliberately, and its daily task is of a rather humdrum nature. Yet where it places its feet it cannot easily be dislodged, and it acquires and bestows true mastery of the ground it covers.

Nyanaponika Thera, The Power of Mindfulness

See also: The Vision of Dhamma - Buddhist Writings of Nyanaponika Thera

Picture: All Rights Reserved aml.2009

Friday, February 20, 2009

true freedom

The Sutta Nipata, in its oldest and most characteristic parts, is a deeply stirring Song of Freedom. The verses of this ancient book are a challenging call to us to leave behind the narrow confines of our imprisoned existence with its ever-growing walls of accumulated habits of life and thought. They beckon us to free ourselves from the enslavement to our passions and to our thousand little whims and wishes. A call to freedom is always timely because in our lives we constantly bind ourselves to this and that, or let ourselves be bound in various ways by others and by circumstances. To some extent, normal life cannot entirely escape from such a situation. In fact, "binding" oneself to a worthy task and duty or to an ennobling human relationship is an indispensable antidote to the opposite tendency: the dissipation of our energies.

But, having the comfort of a "secure footing" in life, we too easily forget to walk on. Instead, we prefer to "strengthen our position," to improve and embellish the little cage we build for ourselves out of habits, ideas and beliefs. Once we have settled down in our habitual ways of living and thinking, we feel less and less inclined to give them up for the sake of risky ventures into a freedom of life and thought full of dangers and uncertainties. True freedom places on us the uncomfortable burden of ever-fresh responsible decisions, which have to be guided by mindfulness, wisdom and human sympathy. Few are willing to accept the full weight of such a burden. Instead, they prefer to be led and bound by the rules given by others, and by habits mainly dominated by self-interest and social conventions.

Nyanaponika Thera

Taken from "The Worn Out Skin". Read full article at Access to Insight

For a list of Nyanaponika Thera's writings, goto: Nyanaponika Thera at Access to Insight

words are windows (or they are walls)

I feel so sentenced by your words,
I feel so judged and sent away,
Before I go I've got to know
Is that what you mean to say?
Before I rise to my defence,
Before I speak in hurt or fear,
Before I build that wall of words,
Tell me, did I really hear?

Words are windows, or they're walls,
They sentence us, or set us free.
When I speak and when I hear,
Let the love light shine through me.
There are things I need to say,
Things that mean so much to me,
If my words don't make me clear,
Will you help me to be free?
If I seemed to put you down,
If you felt I didn't care,
Try to listen through my words
To the feelings that we share.

Ruth Bebermeyer

From Nonviolent Communication: a Language of Life
By Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D.
Encinitas, CA: Puddle Dancer Press, 2003

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Buddhism of Benjamin Button

Daisy, Ben's love interest remarks when they are both in their prime that they are finally 'meeting in the middle'. The truth is, we are always 'meeting in the middle', in the flowing river of time. Buddhism sees the present moment as the centre of time's passage, which is but a measurement of change. We are always smack in the centre, between the past and the future. In fact, now is the only moment we have. There is no need to pine for the transpired past or for the unshaped future, while every moment taken care of now creates happy memories and a better future.

Death Doing Apart

One of Ben's main sources of suffering was to see loved ones already conventionally older than him pass away before him. Then again, in real life, the young often witness the passing of elders too, just as elders sometimes witness the passing of the young. However, as Stonepeace put it, 'Though you might lose your lover (to departure or death), you need not lose your love.' Do we only learn to treasure the beloved when we know they will come to pass? Or rather, we should treasure the beloved now because they are already passing by, changing from moment to moment, even if subtly.

Unconditional love

Daisy wondered if Ben would still love her when she becomes old and saggy, while Ben asks if she will still love him when he has acne as a teenager. How conditional or unconditional is our love? There is really no way to be sure until the ravages of time transform the beloved to test our love. Paradoxically, love is to accept the beloved as they are, while also accepting that they will change in time to be who they are not now. An attribute of true love is that it must make peace with change, yet be unchanging in its devotion to be continually caring despite these changes.

Renunciation for Love

Ben leaves Daisy and their daughter before she becomes old enough to know him, to form attachment to him. It was also a bid to avoid giving Daisy suffering when she eventually has to take care of him when he becomes a young child. It was renunciation of family not due to lack of love, but out of love. However, as he was still attached, he returns abruptly for a visit, thereby disrupting Daisy's new family (with a new husband) a little, stirring up mixed emotions. True Love lets go in good time. Perhaps he shouldn't have returned - if Daisy was already happy with their past times together? Love can still be love at a distance.

To read full article:
by Shen Shi'an, The Buddhist Channel, Feb 6, 2009

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

meditation and pain

I was in the hospital recently for my sudden and unremitting headache. Remembering what I learnt, I practised a simple mindfulness of breathing which helped me to cope better with the pain as well as the various medical procedures i had to undergo at the hospital. My other take-away from the experience: Even though there is physical pain, there is no need to suffer mentally as well.

Here is a timely report that I found:

Zen Meditation Alleviates Pain, Study Finds

ScienceDaily (Feb. 3, 2009) — Zen meditation – a centuries-old practice that can provide mental, physical and emotional balance – may reduce pain according to Université de Montréal researchers. A new study in the January edition of Psychosomatic Medicine reports that Zen meditators have lower pain sensitivity both in and out of a meditative state compared to non-meditators.

While previous studies have shown that teaching chronic pain patients to meditate is beneficial, very few studies have looked at pain processing in healthy, highly trained meditators. This study was a first step in determining how or why meditation might influence pain perception." says Grant.

For full article, click here: Science Daily

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

money can't buy true happiness

Money can't buy happiness
By SRIWIPA SIRIPUNYAWIT, The Bangkok Post, Feb 1, 2009

This is what Danai Chanchaochai believes and has changed his life to make happiness his number one goal

Bangkok, Thailand -- In the hall there is pin-drop silence. This scenario is almost impossible to find in the heart of Bangkok, at 5:30pm on a weekday. But, people still dressed in office attire, start to gather here to listen to the words of Phra Acharn Mitsuo Gavesako echoing from a stereo.

There is a strange calm and peace that fills Bodhgaya Hall, which welcomes people from all walks of life Tuesday and Wednesday. It usually provides 170 seats for anyone wishing to take "off" after work to seek peace in their hearts through meditation and Buddhist teachings.

"However, there was time when as many 800 people joined the session and our neighbouring office had to keep their door open so the people got more space to sit and meditate," says Danai Chanchaochai, 42, chief executive officer of DC Consultants, a strict follower of Buddhist teachings.

This space on the 22nd floor of Amarin Tower, Chidlom, must be complete misuse of "office space", as there are no monetary gain from it.

Danai thinks otherwise. Besides the spacious meditation hall, his office space is shared by a cosy bookshop that houses mostly books from his publishing house, DMG Books.

While half of all the published books are for sale, the other half are for free distribution. And the income from selling books will also be donated.

To continue reading,
Buddhist Channel

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

of steady mind

If one is bent on renunciation and solitude,
Intent on harmlessness, on the end of clinging;
If one is bent on an end to craving,
Dedicated to unconfused vision,
When one has seen the arising of the sense bases,
One's mind will be entirely released.
For the monk thus freed, with peaceful mind,
There is no need to add to what he has done,
No further task or duty to perform.

Just as a rocky mountain is not moved by storms,
So sights, sounds, tastes, smells, contacts and ideas,
Whether desirable or undesirable,
Will never stir one of steady nature,
Whose mind is firm and free,
Who sees how all things pass.

Anguttara Nikaya

Picture by: Chiels @ Flickr

Thursday, January 22, 2009

good sleep

The brahmin who is quenched within
Always sleeps happily;
He does not cling to sensual desires,
Free from props, one cool in mind.
Having cut all straps of attachment,
Removed care deep within the heart,
The Peaceful One sleeps happily,
Attained to perfect peace of mind.

Anguttara Nikaya

Picture by: novaleng @ Flickr

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

samvega and pasada

Samvega was what the young Prince Siddhartha felt on his first exposure to aging, illness, and death. It's a hard word to translate because it covers such a complex range — at least three clusters of feelings at once: the oppressive sense of shock, dismay, and alienation that come with realizing the futility and meaninglessness of life as it's normally lived; a chastening sense of our own complacency and foolishness in having let ourselves live so blindly; and an anxious sense of urgency in trying to find a way out of the meaningless cycle. This is a cluster of feelings we've all experienced at one time or another in the process of growing up, but I don't know of a single English term that adequately covers all three. It would be useful to have such a term, and maybe that's reason enough for simply adopting the word samvega into our language...

The first step in that solution is symbolized in the Siddhartha story by the prince's reaction to the fourth person he saw on his travels outside of the palace: the wandering forest contemplative. The emotion he felt at this point is termed pasada, another complex set of feelings usually translated as "clarity and serene confidence." It's what keeps samvega from turning into despair. In the prince's case, he gained a clear sense of his predicament and of the way out of it, leading to something beyond aging, illness, and death, at the same time feeling confident that the way would work.

Taken from Affirming the Truths of the Heart by:
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Picture: All Rights Reserved aml.2009

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Gaza - the innocent children

By Heather Sharp
BBC News, Jerusalem

The pictures keep coming. The blood-spattered young faces, the glazed eyes, the limp small bodies.

The latest figures from Palestinian health officials say 205 children are among some 600 people who have died in the Gaza war. In the chaos, there are no statistics for how many are among the at least 2,900 injured.

As medics work flat out to save as many young lives as they can, child psychiatrists in both Gaza and southern Israel fear some children will never recover from the psychological damage done as the bombs, shells and rockets fall.

Dr Iyad Sarraj, director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, says "so many people" are telephoning his workers - although the organisation's headquarters lies abandoned with shattered windows and broken furniture after it was damaged in an Israeli air strike.

"It's really terrible for children here now," he says. "I have been through so many of these kinds of things and this is the worst."

Long-term impact

He talks of a boy he treated five years ago. Grappling in the dark after his house was hit in an air strike on a Hamas militant next door, he felt something wet.

"He realised it was the flesh of his sister who was blown into pieces. He was in such a state. He couldn't eat or smell meat for three years after that. I am sure he will suffer some kind of long-term psychological impact," Dr Sarraj says.
"This sort of thing must be happening right now as we speak."

He can barely leave his home for fear of the fighting, and has been unable to visit the hospitals where he has watched television pictures of traumatised, badly injured children arriving.

"These children need help more than anyone. They look frightened, horrified, bewildered. They need a lot of attention but they can't receive it because their families are so terrified," he says.

Continue reading: Report by BBC

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

science n buddhism

Major sectors of Christianity and Islam have made it clear that they’re not going to be best friends with science anytime soon. But at least one of the major religions is extending an olive branch. New Scientist reports that:

More than 30 Tibetan monks, plus a handful of nuns, will be collaborating with a team from San Francisco’s Exploratorium (”the museum of art, science and human perception”) to build exotic machines to create patterns from sunlight using cardboard, dowels, reflective sheets of mylar and electronic components. If all goes to plan, the monks will return to their monasteries and start spreading the joys of scientific exploration among other followers of their religion.

The project is the latest reflection of the monks’ spiritual leader’s fascination with science. In the Dalai Lama’s 2005 book The Universe in a Single Atom, the Nobel peace laureate argued that science and spiritual inquiry have much to learn from one other......

Read more: DISCOVER

this holy life

Bhikkhus, this holy life is not lived for the sake of deceiving people, for the sake of cajoling people, for the sake of profiting in gain, honour, and fame, nor with the idea, 'Let people know me thus.' This holy life, bhikkhus, is lived for the sake of restraint and abandoning.


Taken from: Udana and the Itivutakka by John D. Ireland at Google Books

Picture: All Rights Reserved ® aml.2007

Monday, January 12, 2009

Inspired sayings of the Buddha

This world is subject to torment;
Afflicted by contact, it calls a disease "self":
For however it is conceived
It is ever otherwise than that.

Becoming something other,
The world is held by being,
Is afflicted by being yet delights in being.

But what it delights in brings fear,
And what it fears is suffering.
Now this holy life is lived
In order to abandon being.

Udana, Inspired Sayings of the Buddha

Taken from: Udana and the Itivutakka by John D. Ireland at Google Books

Picture: All Rights Reserved ® aml.2009

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

one small act

"One act of beneficence, one act of real usefulness,
is worth all the abstract sentiment in the world."

-Ann Radcliffe

Picture: All Rights Reserved ® aml.2008

Friday, January 02, 2009

skillful meditation

Being a skillful meditator is like being a skillful cook, carpenter, or archer. There’s a skillful way to perceive; there’s even a skillful way to feel. Feeling comes not only from raw data, streaming in from the outside, but also from an element of fabrication and mental impulse. A physical impulse comes up your nerves, and your mind processes it before you’re really conscious of it. What we’re trying to do as we meditate is to learn how to bring some of these unconscious processes into the light of day. And a central element in these processes is the way you perceive things. You can consciously train yourself to perceive things in more useful, more skillful ways.

Taken from Meditations by Thanissaro Bhikkhu