Saturday, December 25, 2010

solitude in the sky

The grass seeks her crowd in the earth,
The tree seeks his solitude in the sky.

R. Tagore

Thursday, December 23, 2010

eternal silence

What language is thine, O sea?
The language of eternal question.
What language is thy answer, O sky?
The language of eternal silence.

R. Tagore

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Buddha via the Bible

New essay by Thanissaro Bhikkhu:

How western Buddhists read the Pali Canon

here at Dhammatalks

Saturday, December 04, 2010


I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration, I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming. - Goethe

Friday, November 26, 2010

carl jung - modern man and his afflictions

Jung treated modern man with compassion, realizing that "he" was overstrained from his boundless activities. According to Jung, he suffers from the disease of knowing everything; there is nothing he cannot pigeonhole. He is "extraverted as hell" and shows a "remarkable lack of introspection". He thinks that the gods and demons have disappeared from Nature and does not notice that they keep him on the run; hence, his restlessness and need for alcohol and tranquilizers. Modern man believes that he can do as he pleases and is perturbed that inexplicable anxieties plague him. True to his rationalistic bias, he has tried all the usual remedies - diets, exercise programs, studying inspirational literature - and only reluctantly admits that he can't seem to find a way to live a meaningful life.

Extract from:
C G Jung on Nature, Technology & Modern Life at Amazon


Rationality has been won at the expense of vitality - Carl Jung

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

disenchantment - nibbida

"The knowledge and vision of things as they really are is the supporting condition for disenchantment": As the yogin contemplates the rise and fall of the five aggregates, his attention becomes riveted to the final phase of the process, their dissolution and passing away. This insight into the instability of the aggregates at the same time reveals their basic unreliability. Far from being the ground of satisfaction we unreflectively take them to be, conditioned things are seen to be fraught with peril when adhered to with craving and wrong views. The growing realization of this fundamental insecurity brings a marked transformation in the mind's orientation towards conditioned existence. Whereas previously the mind was drawn to the world by the lure of promised gratification, now, with the exposure of the underlying danger, it draws away in the direction of a disengagement. This inward turning away from the procession of formations is called nibbida. Though some times translated "disgust" or "aversion," the term suggests, not emotional repugnance, but a conscious act of detachment resulting from a profound noetic discovery. Nibbida signifies in short, the serene, dignified withdrawal from phenomena which supervenes when the illusion of their permanence, pleasure, and selfhood has been shattered by the light of correct knowledge and vision of things as they are. The commentaries explain nibbida as powerful insight (balava vipassana), an explanation consonant with the word's literal meaning of "finding out." It indicates the sequel to the discoveries unveiled by that contemplative process, the mind's appropriate response to the realizations thrust upon it by the growing experiences of insight. Buddhaghosa compares it to the revulsion a man would feel who, having grabbed bold of a snake in the belief it was a fish, would look at it closely and suddenly realize he was holding a snake.

As our rendering implies, disenchantment marks the dissipation of an "enchantment" or fascination with the kaleidoscopic pleasures of conditioned existence, whether in the form of sense enjoyments, emotions, or ideas. This fascination, resting upon the distorted apprehension of things as permanent, pleasurable, and self, is maintained at a deep unverbalized level by the hope of finding self identity in the conditioned. As the enchanted mind presses forward seeking explicit confirmation of the innate sense of selfhood, everything encountered is evaluated in terms of the notions "mine," "I," and "my self," the principal appropriative and identificatory devices with which the inherent sense of personal selfhood works. These three notions, imputed to phenomena on account of ignorance, are in actuality conceptual fabrications woven by craving, conceit, and speculation, respectively. The insight into impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and selflessness cuts the ground out from underneath this threefold fabrication, reversing the mode in which phenomena can be viewed. Whereas before the development of insight the aggregates were regarded as being "mine," "I," and "self," now, when illuminated with the light of insight knowledge, they are seen in the opposite way as "not-mine," "not I," and "not self." Since the fascination with phenomenal existence is sustained by the assumption of underlying selfhood, the dispelling of this illusion through the penetration of the three marks brings about a de-identification with the aggregates and an end to their spell of enchantment. In place of the fascination and attraction a profound experience of estrangement sets in, engendered by the perception of selfessness in all conditioned being. The suttas present this sequence thus:

Material form, monks, is impermanent, suffering, and non-self. Feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness are impermanent, suffering, and not-self. What is impermanent, suffering and non-self, that should be seen with correct wisdom as it really is: "This is not mine, this am I not, this is not my self." So seeing, the instructed noble disciple becomes disenchanted with material form, disenchanted with feeling, disenchanted with perception, disenchanted with mental formations, and disenchanted with consciousness.

— SN 22.15-17

Bhikkhu Bodhi

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The taste of freedom

Bhikkhu Bodhi

The solution to this seeming paradox lies in the distinction between two kinds of freedom — between freedom as license and freedom as spiritual autonomy. Contemporary man, for the most part, identifies freedom with license. For him, freedom means the license to pursue undisturbed his impulses, passions and whims. To be free, he believes, he must be at liberty to do whatever he wants, to say whatever he wants and to think whatever he wants. Every restriction laid upon this license he sees as an encroachment upon his freedom; hence a practical regimen calling for restraint of deed, word, and thought, for discipline and self-control, strikes him as a form of bondage. But the freedom spoken of in the Buddha's Teaching is not the same as license. The freedom to which the Buddha points is spiritual freedom — an inward autonomy of the mind which follows upon the destruction of the defilements, manifests itself in an emancipation from the mold of impulsive and compulsive patterns of behavior, and culminates in final deliverance from samsara, the round of repeated birth and death.

In contrast to license, spiritual freedom cannot be acquired by external means. It can only be attained inwardly, through a course of training requiring the renunciation of passion and impulse in the interest of a higher end. The spiritual autonomy that emerges from this struggle is the ultimate triumph over all confinement and self-limitation; but the victory can never be achieved without conforming to the requirements of the contest — requirements that include restraint, control, discipline and, as the final price, the surrender of self-assertive desire.

Spiritual freedom, as the opposite of this condition of bondage, must therefore mean freedom from lust, hatred, and delusion. When lust, hatred, and delusion are abandoned in a man, cut off at the root so that they no longer remain even in latent form, then a man finds for himself a seat of autonomy from which he can never be dethroned, a position of mastery from which he can never be shaken. Even though he be a mendicant gathering his alms from house to house, he is still a king; even though he be locked behind bars of steel, he is inwardly free. He is now sovereign over his own mind, and as such over the whole universe; for nothing in the universe can take from him that deliverance of heart which is his inalienable possession. He dwells in the world among the things of the world, yet stands in perfect poise above the world's ebb and flow. If pleasant objects come within range of his perception he does not yearn for them, if painful objects come into range he does not recoil from them. He looks upon both with equanimity and notes their rise and fall. Toward the pairs of opposites which keep the world in rotation he is without concern, the cycle of attraction and repulsion he has broken at its base. A lump of gold and a lump of clay are to his eyes the same; praise and scorn are to his ears empty sounds. He abides in the freedom he has won through long and disciplined effort. He is free from suffering, for with the defilements uprooted no more can sorrow or grief fall upon his heart; there remains only that perfect bliss unsullied by any trace of craving.

In its fullness, the freedom to which the Buddha points as the goal of His Teaching can only be enjoyed by him who has made the realization of the goal a matter of his own living experience. But just as salt lends its taste to whatever food it is used to season, so does the taste of freedom pervade the entire range of the Doctrine and Discipline proclaimed by the Buddha, its beginning, its middle, and its end. Whatever our degree of progress may be in the practice of the Dhamma, to that extent may the taste of freedom be enjoyed. It must always be borne in mind, however, that true freedom — the inward autonomy of the mind — does not descend as a gift of grace. It can only be won by the practice of the path to freedom, the Noble Eightfold Path.

Extract from Bhikkhu Bodhi's "The Taste of Freedom"

Full article at Access to Insight

Sunday, November 14, 2010

new studies on mindfulness

A 2007 study called "Mindfulness meditation reveals distinct neural modes of self-reference" by Norman Farb at the University of Toronto, along with six other scientists, broke new ground in our understanding of mindfulness from a neuroscience perspective.

Farb and his colleagues worked out a way to study how human beings experience their own moment-to-moment experience. They discovered that people have two distinct ways of interacting with the world, using two different sets of networks. One network for experiencing your experience involves what is called the "default network", which includes regions of the medial prefrontal cortex, along with memory regions such as the hippocampus. This network is called default because it becomes active when not much else is happening, and you think about yourself. If you are sitting on the edge of a jetty in summer, a nice breeze blowing in your hair and a cold beer in your hand, instead of taking in the beautiful day you might find yourself thinking about what to cook for dinner tonight, and whether you will make a mess of the meal to the amusement of your partner. This is your default network in action. It's the network involved in planning, daydreaming and ruminating.

This default network also become active when you think about yourself or other people, it holds together a "narrative". A narrative is a story line with characters interacting with each other over time. The brain holds vast stores of information about your own and other people's history. When the default network is active, you are thinking about your history and future and all the people you know, including yourself, and how this giant tapestry of information weaves together. In this way, in the Farb study they like to call the default network the ‘narrative' circuitry. (I like the ‘narrative circuit' term for every-day usage as it's easier to remember and a bit more elegant than ‘default' when talking about mindfulness.)

Continue reading at Psychology Today


In adverse situations,
even though you are surrounded by needles and medicines that will help you through the trials,
you are unaware of them.
In favourable circumstances,
all around you are swords and halberds which will whittle away your flesh and bones,
you do not know about them.

Those who grow up in a setting of riches and splendour are driven by greed like a raging fire.
Their power and influence blaze furiously everywhere.
If they cannot cultivate feelings that are a little cooler,
they might not burn others, but surely they will end up incinerating themselves.

Caigentan by Hong Zicheng
Translated by Robert Aitken with Daniel Kwok

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tibetan Buddhist nuns take a page from Catholics

By Don Cayo, Vancouver Sun November 6, 2010

Vancouver, Canada -- If there's a silver lining to the 50-year exile of Buddhists who've fled Tibet to escape Chinese rule, it may be the greater role and much improved quality of life that is evolving for women who devote their lives to their faith.

Even in the free Tibet, life for nuns was difficult, said Rinchen Khando Choegal, the sister-in-law of the Dalai Lama who served for 10 years as education minister in the Tibetan exile government and now devotes herself to an educational initiative for nuns. Most had little or no education before they took their vows, she said, and few, if any, formal learning opportunities once they joined.
And it was much worse for the 2,000 or so religious women who in recent decades have fled Tibet to work and study at the Dalai Lama's new home in Dharamsala, India, or the handful of other South Asian communities where about 140,000 exiled Tibetans congregate.

"Many had been imprisoned, and tortured in prison," Choegal said. "Their health was very poor. They were living in fear."

So her Nun's Project, started 23 years ago but becoming a full-time endeavour for her only for the last five, began with health and security. It then progressed, with considerable success, into education.

Her Nun's Project today involves about 700 women, roughly a third of the Tibetan nuns in exile. Those who've joined recently must be at least 17 years old and they come with basic education, which is provided to almost all Tibetan exile children by the government in exile. But her initial participants were as young as 13, and most had no education at all.

Continue reading at Buddhist Channel

Monday, November 08, 2010

Yogis of Tibet

A reader of this blog sent me this video link of which i am most pleased to share.

Since the invasion of Tibet over 50 years ago, China has systematically destroyed the Tibetan culture. One of the most profound losses is the tradition of the great master yogis. The entire system which supported these fascinating mind masters has been inexorably eliminated. In order to record these mystical practitioners for posterity, the filmmakers were given permission to film heretofore secret demonstrations and to conduct interviews on subject matter rarely discussed. This profound historical, spiritual and educational film will someday be the last remnant of these amazing practitioners.

Monday, October 25, 2010

unmistaken child

Geshe Lama Konchog

Buddhist reflections on death and rebirth

By Rajah Kuruppu, Sunday Times, October 22, 2010
Colombo, Sri Lanka -- From the earliest of times, men have speculated on the question why we are born and why we die. In ancient times, phenomena such as rain and fire were attributed to gods associated with them.

There was a creator god responsible for birth and another for destruction. With the passage of time, there developed the concept of one God, all powerful and omnipotent, who is responsible for our birth and who would judge our life at death and reward or punish us for our good and harmful actions, respectively.

The answer in Buddhism for our birth is that we are caught in a cycle of births and deaths called Samsara, whose beginning is inconceivable. The Buddha declared that it is because of our delusion of the true nature of things, that we have the desire for life at the moment of death where ordinary people grasp for life. Consequently, we are re-born and continue our journey in Samsara with all its unsatisfactory features characterized by Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta — impermanance, unsatisfactoriness and absence of a permanent, unchanging, eternal, self or soul.

Continue reading at Buddhist Channel

Rebirth as doctrine and experience by Francis Story
Read here

Thursday, October 21, 2010

David Bohm

The notion of something with an inexhaustibly specifiable and unvarying mode of being can only be an approximation and abstraction from the infinite complexity of the changes taking place in the real process of becoming.

David Bohm

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Heart Sutra mantra

"Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha."

Gate, gate means gone, gone; paragate means gone over;
parasamgate means gone beyond (to the other shore of
suffering or the bondage of samsara); bodhi means the
Awakened Mind; svaha is the Sanskrit word for homage or
proclaimation. So, the mantra means "Homage to the Awakened
Mind which has gone over to the other shore (of suffering)."

Mu Soeng

Monday, October 04, 2010

Heart Sutra Commentary by Mu Soeng

Heart Sutra - Ancient Buddhist Wisdom in the Light of Quantum Reality

Commentary by Mu Soeng Sunim

Read here

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Day 1 Morning -- The Heart Sutra & 37 Practices

Buddha's final sermon

It is not appropriate to grieve in an hour of joy.. You all weep, but is there any real cause for grief? We should look upon a sage as a person escaped from a burning mansion... it does not matter whether I am here or not; salvation does not depend upon me but upon practising the Dharma, just as a cure depends not upon the doctor but upon taking the medicine... My time has come, my work is done... Everything eventually comes to an end, even if it should last for an aeon. The time of parting is bound to come one day. I have done what I could for myself and others, and to remain longer would be without purpose. I have trained all whom I could train. My teachings shall last for many generations, so do not be disturbed. Recognize that all that lives is subject to the laws of impermanence, and strive for eternal wisdom. When the light of knowledge dispels ignorance, when the world is seen as without substance, the end of life is seen as peace and as a cure to a disease. Everything that exists is bound to perish. Be therefore mindful of your salvation. The time of my passing has come.

Buddha's final sermon

Fearless Mountain

Fearless Mountain is a documentary exploring the world of the forest-dwelling monks of Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery in Redwood Valley, California.

Part 1 of 6 parts. The rest can be found by double-clicking on the video. You will then be re-directed to youtube website.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Compassion: The Art of Happiness

living in the face of death

Originally uploaded by madsolitaire
At the time of death, it does not matter where one is a monk or lay person, rich or poor. What really counts is the state of one's mind. If at the time of one's death, one has managed to generate a state of mind possessed of clarity, control, love and wisdom, our life has been well spent. Should confusion, attachment, helplessness, fear, aversion and dark instincts predominate in our mindstream, this is a sign that our life was spent meaninglessly. Those who die in a state of spiritual backwardness and ignorance will fall into the lower realms of being, regardless of their social standing during their lifetime. When the mind has been dragged down with the weight of negative deeds and evil tendencies, one is swept helplessly away.

Glenn H Mullin

Thursday, September 30, 2010


When sitting alone,
watch your mind.
When speaking in public,
watch your speech.

- An old Kadampa saying

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

metta sutta

In the Metta Sutta, the Blessed One said:

This is how one who is skilled in goodness and wish to attain the state of peacefulness should act:

One should be able, upright, straight forward, free from pride, gentle in speech, mild, contented, easily satisfied, not caught up in too much bustle, frugal in one’s ways, with controlled senses, wise and skilful, not impudent, and with families is not demanding. One should also abstain from the ways that wise ones would blame.

And in this the thought and wishes that one should always hold: May all beings be happy and safe, may their hearts rejoice within themselves.

Whatever living beings there may be, whether they are strong or weak, without exception, be they of stature small or medium, firm or frail, short or long, living in hiding or open view, dwelling nearby or far away, already born or still future wombs; may all these beings rejoice within themselves.
Let no one bring about another’s ruin, nor despise any being in any way or place, let no one through anger or enmity wish harm on one another. Just as a mother at the risk of her life would love and protect her child, her only child; just so should one cultivate this boundless love, radiating loving-kindness to all that live in the whole universe, with a mind that is free from any bound, extending upward, downward and across the world, untroubled, free from hatred and enmity. Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down and still free from drowsiness, one should exercise this mindfulness. This is Divine Abiding here they say.

Not falling into wrong views, by following the precepts and with knowledge, one overcomes the craving after lust from all sense desires, and surely one will no more descend to any womb.

Continue reading here at: Buddhist Channel

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Thich Nhat Hanh

Talks from the Singapore Retreat, the 8th to the 12th of September, 2010.

Video stream of Thay's talk given on 10 September 2010 on the third day of the Singapore retreat "The Art of Living Happily in the Here and Now"

Made possible by the Plum Village International Online Monastery team
and the Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

benefits of a calm mind

Mindfulness: Beyond the science

by Ed Halliwell

Each month, a digest of the latest research on mindfulness meditation lands in my inbox. The volume of studies has mushroomed in recent years – the most recent round-up (pdf) alone cites 35 new papers detailing effects on people with conditions such as heart disease and borderline personality disorder, the results of an innovative new mindfulness curriculum for schools, and the impact of mindfulness-based stress reduction courses on the structure of the brain (it seems to reduce density in the amygdala).

If practising mindfulness can help people – and it appears to – then all this evidence can only be a good thing. Whereas for years meditation's public image was stuck in the 1960s, tainted with hippie self-indulgence or new-age flakiness, now it's being taken seriously by everyone from top academics to US congressman and government departments.

Continue reading here at Guardian

Friday, September 03, 2010

Bernard Buffet L'Enfer de Dante

Buffet : "... there's no need for education or explanation in order to approach, to appreciate, and to love paintings. You just need to look - and everyone will find what they're looking for, depending on their sensibility, curiosity and imagination. For me, these damned souls project a tragic solitude, a distress, a painful lucidity that strangely resembles the sterile confusion of life today. They reflect the same dread as The Horror of War, though more powerful, more clairvoyant: a vision of the icy world inevitably produced by egotism, greed and cowardice."

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

everything to lose

Taku glacier
Originally uploaded by madsolitaire

I used to be so fearless so limitless and free
Happy on my own and nothing really bothered me.
I had desires to see the world, jump out of planes and fly
And I love to be alive but I was not afraid to die

I used to be so sure of things and self-contained
I could carry on with no need to explain
It didn't matter if I ever made it home
Could go too fast, and drink all night and dance alone

I love to be alive but I was not afraid to die
I love to be alive but I was not afraid to die

I used to be so thoughtless, so easy and free
Could walk away, not think ahead, and had no plans to keep.
No hand to told, no one to bring down with me.
I wouldn't see the worst and it only hurts me.

I love to be alive but I was not afraid to die
I've got everything to lose
Since I've met you
I've got everything to lose
I've got everything to lose

Picture: All Rights Reserved ® aml.2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

looking in

looking in
Originally uploaded by madsolitaire
English, which can express the thoughts of Hamlet and the tragedy of Lear, has no words for the shiver and the headache... Let a sufferer try to describe a pain in his head to the doctor and language at once runs dry.

Virginia Woolf

Monday, August 16, 2010


To study Buddhism is to study yourself.
To study yourself is to forget yourself.
To forget yourself is to perceive your non-duality with all things.
To realize this is to cast off the mind and body of self and others.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Mind and Life XVIII

Mind and Life XVIII - Attention, Memory and Mind. Day 1 morning covers multitasking, meditation and contemplative practice.

The discussions during Mind and Life XVIII primarily focus on the subjective phenomenology, information-processing operations, and neural mechanisms of attention, memory and conscious awareness from both scientific and Buddhist perspectives. The conference was held at His Holiness's residence in Dharamsala, India in 2009 and organized by the Mind and Life Institute. (more info at,

Day 1 pm - An excellent presentation by Alan Wallace on shamatha

Day 2 am
Day 2 pm
Day 3 am
Day 3 pm
Day 4 am
Day 5 am
Day 5 pm

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Thanisarro Bhikkhu's June 2010 Saskatchewan Retreat on "The Ten Perfections"

All audio recordings and suggested readings are found here:

Saskatoon Retreat

Monday, August 09, 2010

What is downshifting?

While many are seeking to climb the material ladder in life, others have reached the upper rungs and found out it's not all it's cracked up to be; choosing to set a different course - downshifting.

Even if you haven't reached (what is generally considered) the upper rungs to discover this, if you're struggling in this economic climate to keep up with all the "gotta haves" that perhaps you really don't need; step back, take a deep breath, separate from the pack and consider downshifting. The environment will certainly benefit from you doing so.

Downshifting, a term currently used most often in Australia and the UK, is the concept of living in voluntary simplicity; usually with environmental sustainability in mind although not necessarily the focus or primary motivator. People who take the downshifting route are also called "post materialists".

While some have been making these changes for years, it's only relatively recently that downshifting has acquired the label. An Australian Institute survey in 2004 found that nearly a quarter of Australian adults aged 30-59 have chosen to downshift over the previous 10 years.

People downshift their lives for mainly 5 reasons:

a) A desire for a more balanced life with less stress
b) Clashes between personal values and those of the workplace
c) Wanting a more fulfilling life
d) Ill health
e) Environmental concerns/rejection of consumerism

Continue reading here

Saturday, July 31, 2010


The 'Inception' of Illusion or Reality?
by Shen Shi'an, The Buddhist Channel, Jul 30, 2010

Singapore -- The ingenious film that is ‘Inception’ begins with the assumption that it is possible for multiple persons to enter someone’s dream, that can even be designed without that person knowing, thus digging out deep secrets from his sub-consciousness, or even implanting ideas which eventually shape one’s decisions.

Thank goodness this doesn’t seem technologically viable at the moment… though it does seem possible in the near future? If so, may this movie be a cautionary tale for what may come to be! This is especially relevant in this information age, when the conceiving of the slightest ideas by the powerful can mushroom into world-changing actions.

In the story, dreams are elaborately crafted by architects who have an eye for detail and creativity – so as to trick the dreamer into believing the dream sequences to be real. This reminds me of the Buddha’s teaching in the Diamond Sutra, that all conditioned phenomena (including real life) is dream-like, due to their ethereal and transient nature.

Even more confounding yet rich than the Matrix movies, the dream hackers are able to delve deeper into the subject’s mind by conjuring a dream… within a dream… within a dream! With intriguing cross-interaction over layers of dreams, even the hackers are at times unsure of whether they are still in a dream, which, and whose!

Continue reading here

Shantideva's Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life

Day one of a three day teaching by His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Shantideva's "Guide to a Bodhisattva's Way of Life" given in New Delhi, India, from March 19-21, 2010. (

Day two

Day three

Friday, July 30, 2010

nature of the mind

His Holiness the Dalai lama talks on the "Nature of the Mind" at the University of California Santa Barbara Events Center on April 24th, 2009. (

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Towards an integral model of Buddhism - Bhikkhu Bodhi

This lecture was given to the board members and volunteers of Buddhist Global Relief during a Board Retreat. It is an early attempt by Ven. Bodhi to develop a model for understanding and practicing Buddhism suitable for the post-modern stage of mind's evolution. The lecture was given on April 10th, 2010 at Bodhi Monastery in Lafayette, NJ

Buddhist Global Relief

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rodney Smith

Interview with Rodney Smith:

Rodney Smith lives in Seattle, Washington, where he has been running a hospice. He has also set up hospices in Texas and Massachusetts, and teaches workshops nationwide on working with death and the dying. He has been offering vipassana retreats at IMS for many years, and has recently completed a book called Lessons from the Dying, to be published by Wisdom Publications.

Read interview here

Also, a book by Rodney Smith - Stepping out of self-deception at Amazon

Or you can find a preview of the book at Google Books.

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


We do not know in advance what are the questions to ask,
and we often do not find out until we are close to the answer.

Steven Weinberg

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wisdom: From philosophy to neuroscience

Wisdom: From philosophy to neuroscience by Stephen Hall
examines ancient concepts of wisdom through the lens of modern brain science.
In a section called “Eight Neural Pillars of Wisdom,” Hall takes a fresh look at human qualities long associated with wisdom–including compassion, emotional regulation, the ability to discern what’s important, and the skill of coping with uncertainty–and suggests that modern neuroscience is providing radical new insights about how these timeless virtues evolved.

Based in part on a 2007 article in The New York Times Magazine, Wisdom is also a meditation on the seeds of wisdom, aspects of wisdom in everyday life, and the future of wisdom in our complex society.

Friday, July 02, 2010

The Heart of Altruism

The Heart of Altruism - Perceptions of a common humanity

by Kristen Monroe

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Dalai Lama on spiritual harmony

Speaking at the event, His Holiness said this spiritual gathering of Buddhist devotees - among them 400 Koreans, 300 Mongolians, 300 Chinese, and hundreds of Japanese - reflects the widespread propagation of Buddha’s teachings in Asia. He said he was optimistic about the prospects for a more peaceful and non-violent world as a small but significant group of people are now focussing their attention and energy on developing secular ethics of compassion, peace, love and kindness.

These secular ethics have the possibility of promoting a happy and healthy life for believers as well as non-believers. However, many see these secular ethics as religious and hence ignore them but His Holiness said compassion is biologically inherent in all living beings, animals as well as humans, in that everyone needs love and kindness for a happy, wholesome life. “There are many non-believers who are also great human beings,” he added.

Secularism, His Holiness said, is misunderstood by some religious practitioners as rejection of religion which is not true. In the current reality, secularism means respect not only for all religions but respect also for non-believers.

Read the article here

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mind and Life XIV Day 1

Morning session:

Afternoon session:

Double click on the video to goto youtube's website to access follow-up videos for the next 4 days.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Ego Tunnel - The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self

Review - The Ego Tunnel
The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self
by Thomas Metzinger
Basic Books, 2009
Review by Kamuran Godelek, Ph.D.
Oct 6th 2009 (Volume 13, Issue 41
by Thomas Metzinger
Basic Books, 2009
Review by Kamuran Godelek, Ph.D.
Oct 6th 2009 (Volume 13, Issue 41)

Read the review here

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

working on self

going forth
Originally uploaded by madsolitaire
Craftspeople often grasp that the stages through which a work must pass to reach completion parallel the maturation of the human being and so shed light on our own needs and possibilities. It follows by analogy that to study a craft is to study one's own nature; hence the firm association between craft work and the search for self-knowledge. This is the faith underlying some craft traditions that preserve a key reflexive: not only "I work" but also "I work on myself."

Roger Lipsey, The Spiritual in Twentieth Century Art

Picture: All Rights Reserved ® aml.2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

social action

"But the explanation of how man should live a life of active social service in full harmony with himself as a member of the community of spirit, I found in the writings of those great medieval mystics [ Meister Eckhart and Jan van Ruysbroek ] for whom 'self-surrender' had been the way to self-realization, and who in 'singleness of mind' and 'inwardness' had found strength to say yes to every demand which the needs of their neighbours made them face, and to say yes also to every fate life had in store for them when they followed the call of duty as they understood it."

Dag Hammarskjold

The United Nations Meditation Room, Fresco by Bo Beskow, interior design by Wallace Harrison with participation by Dag Hammarskjold

walk of life

Originally uploaded by madsolitaire
"The contrast between the nearly obsolete expression walk of life and the modern word career captures much of what needs to be said about the relation between the studio and the marketplace. Walk of life implies a deliberate pace, as if one takes time to enjoy and record the landscape through which one is passing. One can arrive anywhere by walking, although it takes more time than careening. One arrives later, one arrives mature.

Career, on the other hand, at least today implies a nervous, outwardly directed endeavour that tests one's powers but may also abuse them and leave little time for them to develop into deep coherence.

Walk of life can be, although often it is not, the inner aspect of career. Similarly, career can be the outer aspect of walk of life; it assures the worldly progress - the personal connections, material opportunities, and social acceptance - of a professional life. Today, and in any era that thrusts art into a competitive marketplace, the artist must find a delicate balance. There is nothing wrong with a career, but it is empty and sometimes corrupting if it lacks the contemplative pace of a walk of life."

Roger Lipsey, The Spiritual in Twentieth Century Art

Thursday, May 06, 2010

buddha nature and karma

"The physical body depends on karma for its existence and has no nature of its own, just as a wave depends on karma for its existence and has no nature of its own. The sea is one, while waves are countless. Noble sons and daughters are also like this. There is only one sea of our buddha nature. But when people are confused, the sea of buddha nature becomes the sea of consciousness, and the sea of consciousness becomes the sea of passion, and the sea of passion becomes the sea of karma, and the sea of karma becomes the sea of suffering, and from the sea of suffering, they receive countless, limitless karmic bodies. Thus, on top of confusion, they pile up confusion without end and without limit. But all those illusions can't compare to the one reality, namely, the true form of all dharmas."

Taken from: The Diamond Sutra by Red Pine

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Viva la revolution...!!!

Had to blog this beautiful picture by Denis Collette at flickr. If i may quote him:

Viva la revolution...!!!

In fact, Nietzsche was right: "Creating is the great way to put an end to the suffering… is what makes life lightly”. Everything that interests me in this approach is that deep joy ... this inner need that makes me feel so alive ... it added a little something to the extraordinary beauty of this so creative Nature... so why should I be concerned about the distribution, sales or thieves of these images ... is the wild flower worried about the distribution or sale of the image that has taken of her? So like the wild flower, my images, once created, are no more mine... they belong to the world.

His other photos on flickr: Denis Collette @ Flickr

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

the spiritual in art

"Every work of art is the child of his age, and in many cases, the mother of our emotions."

Wassily Kandinsky

Monday, April 19, 2010

art and spirituality

The Spiritual in Twentieth Century Art by Roger Lipsey

Images, like words, are vehicles of consciousness; they allow us to think silently."

Roger Lipsey

Preview at Google Books

Thursday, April 15, 2010

opposite of

The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference.
The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference.
The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference.
And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.

Elie Wiesel


To conquer oneself is a greater task than conquering others.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Originally uploaded by madsolitaire
Why seek without when everything you need is within?

Picture: All Rights Reserved ® aml.2010

Monday, April 12, 2010


Loneliness does not come from having no people about one,
but from being unable to communicate the things that seem
important to oneself, or from holding certain views
which others find inadmissible.

Carl Jung

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Buddhism - religion? Or not

If we want to be free of the pain we inflict on ourselves and each other -- in other words, if we want to be happy -- then we have to learn to think for ourselves.

Although he was a prince born into a wealthy and powerful family, the young Siddhartha often just wanted to get away from it all. He wanted the space to think independently about who he was and what the spiritual path was about. Such freethinking was important to the Buddha's search for inner truth and his ultimate realization of enlightenment. These days more and more people in the West are following the teachings and example of the Buddha. But what are these teachings about? What is Buddhism? It looks like a religion, but is it?

Those teachings today still describe a deeply personal inner journey that's spiritual, yes, but not religious. The Buddha wasn't a god -- he wasn't even a Buddhist. You're not required to have more faith in the Buddha than you do in yourself. His power lies in his teachings, which show us how to work with our minds to realize our full capacity for wakefulness and happiness. These teachings can help us satisfy our search for the truth -- our need to know who and what we really are.

Where do we find this truth? Although we can rely to some degree on the wisdom we find in books and on the advice of respected spiritual authorities, that's only the beginning. The journey to genuine truth begins when you discover a true question -- one that comes from the heart -- from your own life and experience. That question will lead to an answer that will lead to another question, and so on. That's how it goes on the spiritual path.

We start by bringing an open, inquisitive, and skeptical mind to whatever we hear, read, or see that presents itself as the truth. We examine it with reason and we put it to the test in meditation and in our lives. As we gain insight into the workings of the mind, we learn how to recognize and deal with our day-to-day experiences of thoughts and emotions. We uncover inaccurate and unhelpful habits of thinking and begin to correct them. Eventually we're able to overcome the confusion that makes it so hard to see the mind's naturally brilliant awareness. In this sense, the Buddha's teachings are a method of investigation, or a science of mind.

Religion, on the other hand, often provides us with answers to life's big questions from the start. We don't have to think about it too much. We learn what to think and believe and our job is to live up to that, not to question it. If we relate to the Buddha's teachings as final answers that don't need to be examined, then we're practicing Buddhism as a religion.

Full article by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche at Buddhist Channel

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

qualities of the mind

Throughout its history, Buddhism has worked as a civilizing force. Its teachings on karma, for instance — the principle that all intentional actions have consequences — have taught morality and compassion to many societies. But on a deeper level, Buddhism has always straddled the line between civilization and wilderness. The Buddha himself gained Awakening in a forest, gave his first sermon in a forest, and passed away in a forest. The qualities of mind he needed in order to survive physically and mentally as he went, unarmed, into the wilds, were key to his discovery of the Dhamma. They included resilience, resolve, and alertness; self-honesty and circumspection; steadfastness in the face of loneliness; courage and ingenuity in the face of external dangers; compassion and respect for the other inhabitants of the forest. These qualities formed the "home culture" of the Dhamma.

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

The Customs of the Noble Ones

Monday, April 05, 2010

going forth - Pabbajja

True holiness is never born without solitude;
never is it perfected without struggle with the passions within.

Going Forth - A call to Buddhist monkhood by Sumana Samanera

Picture: All Rights Reserved ® aml.2009


"I know not, Ananda, even of a single form whereby pleasure and satisfaction in form does not pass into sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief, despair, since it is transient and changeable. This world, however, seeks pleasure, loves pleasure, prizes pleasure. Only a few beings are stirred by things that are truly stirring, in comparison with the greater number who remain unstirred by truly stirring things. And again, there are only a few who, being stirred, earnestly strive, in comparison with the greater number who, being stirred, yet do not earnestly strive."


Picture: All Rights Reserved ® aml.2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010

present moment

Were you to live three thousand years, or even thirty thousand,
remember that the sole life which a man can lose
is that which he is living at the moment.
This means that the longest life and the shortest life
amount to the same thing. For the passing minute
is every man's equal possession, but what has once gone by is not ours.
For the sole thing of which any man can be deprived
is the present; since this is all he owns.

Marcus Aurelius


One becomes sharply aware, but without regret,
the limits of mutual understanding and consonance.

Albert Einstein, Ideas and Opinions

Thursday, March 25, 2010


...clinging is suffering. It's because of clinging that physical pain becomes mental pain. It's because of clinging that aging, illness, and death cause mental distress. The paradox here is that, in clinging to things, we don't trap them or get them under our control. Instead, we trap ourselves.

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


When you can neither speak nor talk of any event,
when you neither indicate nor 'know' any thing,
when you pass beyond both questions and answers,
this is entering the gate of non-duality.

Manjusri, Vimalakirti Sutra

Monday, March 15, 2010

gateway to the dharma

The Master begins by revealing the boundless temporal and spatial dimensions
against which the quest for enlightenment unfolds. He then swiftly narrows down
the focus of his attention to the prospective student’s own situation in the here and
now. His concern is not with theory but with attitudes and actions. Repeatedly, he
drives home the point that our purpose in studying the Dharma should not be the mere
acquiring of information, however interesting, but the transformation and purification
of our minds. Though he ultimately steers us towards the broad bodhisattva
path aimed at benefiting all sentient beings, he does not let us escape the “narrow
path” with its hard tasks of self-scrutiny, self-rectification, and self-cultivation.
Alertness, heedfulness, conscientiousness, and integrity are the watchwords of this
training. The path he guides us towards is never an easy one, but it is one that
brings abundant rewards. It enables us to master the conditions of life instead of
drifting along with them; it helps us ride over the high waves of good fortune without
being dashed by the tidal waves of calamity. It teaches us how to dwell like a
mountain, ever tall, strong, and steady, unswayed even by the roughest winds.

Extract from Foreword by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

To read: Gateway to the Dharma by Venerable Master Jen-Chun

Sunday, March 14, 2010

true happiness

It's important to reflect on what true happiness is and where it can be found. A moment's reflection will show that you can't find it in the past or the future. The past is gone and your memory of it is undependable. The future is a blank uncertainty. So the only place we can really find happiness is in the present. But even here you have to know where to look. If you try to base your happiness on things that change — sights, sounds, sensations in general, people and things outside — you're setting yourself up for disappointment, like building your house on a cliff where there have been repeated landslides in the past. So true happiness has to be sought within. Meditation is thus like a treasure hunt: to find what has solid and unchanging worth in the mind, something that even death cannot touch.

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Picture: All Rights Reserved ® aml.2010

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Thursday, March 04, 2010

third age

For age is opportunity no less

Than youth itself, though in another dress,

And as the evening twilight fades away

The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.

Henry W. Longfellow

Picture: All Rights Reserved ® aml

Friday, February 26, 2010

HH Dalai Lama - Ethics for our time

His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama: Ethics for Our Time at UC Santa Barbara in April 2009.

HH Dalai Lama talks about cultivation of inner life - inner values and inner peace.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

meditation timer

A very useful meditation timer widget for mac users.

Download widget at apple website:
Meditation Timer

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

four determinations

One should not be negligent of discernment,
should guard the truth,
be devoted to relinquishment,
and train only for calm.

Majjhima Nikaya 140

Picture: All Rights reserved ® aml

Monday, February 15, 2010

the true believer

Our frustration is greater when we have much and want more than
when we have nothing and want some.
We are less dissatisfied when we lack many things than
when we seem to lack but one thing.

Eric Hoffer, The True Believer - Thoughts on the nature of mass movements

Friday, February 12, 2010


Men are not prisoners of their own fate,
but only prisoners of their own mind.

Franklin Roosevelt

writing - Ted Solotaroff

"Writing itself, if not misunderstood and abused, becomes a way of empowering the writing self. It converts anger and disappointment into deliberate and durable aggression, the writer's main source of energy. It converts sorrow and self-pity into empathy, the writer's main means of relating to otherness. Similarly, his wounded innocence turns into irony, his silliness into wit, his guilt into judgment, his oddness into originality, his perverseness into his stinger."

Ted Solotaroff

Friday, February 05, 2010

silence n loss

There was no closure.
Just silence
and loss.

Picture: All Rights Reserved ® aml.2008

Sunday, January 31, 2010

living life

Are we living our life
or is life living us?

Picture: All Rights Reserved ® aml.2009

life for rent - dido

"Life For Rent" by Dido

I haven't ever really found a place that I call home
I never stick around quite long enough to make it
I apologize once again I'm not in love
But it's not as if I mind
that your heart ain't exactly breaking

It's just a thought, only a thought

But if my life is for rent and I don't learn to buy
Well I deserve nothing more than I get
Cos nothing I have is truly mine

I've always thought
that I would love to live by the sea
To travel the world alone
and live more simply
I have no idea what's happened to that dream
Cos there's really nothing left here to stop me

It's just a thought, only a thought

But if my life is for rent and I don't learn to buy
Well I deserve nothing more than I get
Cos nothing I have is truly mine

If my life is for rent and I don't learn to buy
Well I deserve nothing more than I get
Cos nothing I have is truly mine

While my heart is a shield and I won't let it down
While I am so afraid to fail so I won't even try
Well how can I say I'm alive

If my life is for rent and I don't learn to buy
Well I deserve nothing more than I get
Cos nothing I have is truly mine

If my life is for rent and I don't learn to buy
Well I deserve nothing more than I get
Cos nothing I have is truly mine
Cos nothing I have is truly mine
Cos nothing I have is truly mine
Cos nothing I have is truly mine

Friday, January 29, 2010

J. D. Salinger

From L.A TImes, written by David L. Ulin

And yet, our collective fascination with his life rather than his writing suggests another bit of code, or at least a set of clues. Wasn't this, after all, what Salinger was rejecting, a culture of celebrity in which the most important thing was appearance and no one cared about the level of the soul?

"I just quit, that's all," Franny Glass tells her boyfriend early in "Franny and Zooey," explaining why she gave up acting. " . . . I don't know. It seemed like such poor taste, sort of, to want to act in the first place. I mean all the ego. And I used to hate myself so, when I was in a play, to be backstage after the play was over. All those egos running around feeling terribly charitable and warm."

For all that "The Catcher in the Rye" made him famous, "Franny and Zooey" is Salinger's masterpiece, an evocation of loss and longing within the bonds of family. Composed of two novellas, it introduces the youngest members of the Glass family, about whom Salinger would devote more than half of his published work.

Read full article from LA Times here

Picture from

Friday, January 22, 2010


Rest for the tired body,
Poetry for the soul.

Picture: All Rights Reserved ® aml

Monday, January 11, 2010

among my friends love is a great sorrow

Among my friends love is a great sorrow.
It has become a daily burden, a feast,
a gluttony for fools, a heart's famine.
We visit one another asking, telling one another.
We do not burn hotly, we question the fire.
We do not fall forward with our alive
eager faces looking thru into the fire.
We stare back into our faces.
We have become our own realities.
We seek to exhaust our lovelessness.

Among my friends love is a painful question.
We seek out among the passing faces
a sphinx-face who will ask its riddle.
Among my friends love is an answer to a question
that has not been asked.
Then ask it.

Among my friends love is a payment.
It is an old debt for a borrowing foolishly spent.
And we go on, borrowing and borrowing
from each other.
Among my friends love is a wage
that one might have for an honest living.

Robert Duncan

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Jhana is called the pleasure of renunciation,
the pleasure of seclusion,
the pleasure of peace,
the pleasure of enlightenment.
I say of this kind of pleasure that it should be pursued,
that it should be developed,
that it should be cultivated,
that it should not be feared.

Majjhima Nikaya 66

Picture: All Rights Reserved ® aml.2008

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

essence of holy life

This holy life is led not for gain honour and fame,
not for endowment of virtues, not for endowment of concentration,
and not for the endowment of knowledge and vision.

It is for the unshakeable release of mind.
This is the essence of the holy life,
it is the heartwood and the end of the holy life.

Majjhima Nikaya 30

Picture: All Rights Reserved ® aml.2009