Friday, December 30, 2011

Pico Iyer on the joy of quiet

None of this is a matter of principle or asceticism; it’s just pure selfishness. Nothing makes me feel better — calmer, clearer and happier — than being in one place, absorbed in a book, a conversation, a piece of music. It’s actually something deeper than mere happiness: it’s joy, which the monk David Steindl-Rast describes as “that kind of happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens.” - Pico Iyer

Thursday, December 29, 2011

the superior man

The superior man sets his life in order
And examines himself.

I Ching

Sunday, December 18, 2011

quantum entanglement

"Indeed, the new study is just the latest to show how quantum mechanics applies in real-world, macroscopic systems. " Read full article at Scientific American

Saturday, December 17, 2011

francis thompson

“All things by immortal power,
Near and Far
To each other linked are,
That thou canst not stir a flower
Without troubling of a star.”

Francis Thompson

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011

i have loved you a thousand years

A Thousand Years

Heartbeats fast
Colors and promises
How to be brave
How can I love when I’m afraid to fall
But watching you stand alone
All of my doubt suddenly goes away somehow
One step closer

I have died everyday waiting for you
Darling don’t be afraid I have loved you
For a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more

Time stands still
Beauty in all she is
I will be brave
I will not let anything take away
What’s standing in front of me
Every breath
Every hour has come to this
One step closer
I have died everyday waiting for you
Darling don’t be afraid I have loved you
For a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more

And all along I believed that I would find you
Time has brought your heart to me
I have loved you for a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more
One step closer
One step closer

I have died everyday waiting for you
Darling don’t be afraid I have loved you
For a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more
And all along I believed I would find you
Time has brought your heart to me
I have loved you for a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more

Christina Perri

Friday, December 09, 2011

Review of Owen Flanagan's "The Bodhisattva's Brain: Buddhism naturalized"

Book review at The Existential Buddhist blog:

Owen Flanagan [1], is my favorite living analytical philosopher because he writes clearly, deals with topics (theory of mind, ethics, what it means to live well) that I actually care about, is what smart would be if smart was on steroids, and has a wonderfully dry sense of humor. He’s a Naturalist, which is to say, he eschews supernatural explanations, dislikes dualism, and is disinterested in questions that are unfalsifiable by either logic or empirical observation. He’s not a Buddhist, but he has a keen interest in (and sufficiently deep understanding of) Buddhism, as well as recent efforts to test Buddhist claims using scientific methods. He wonders whether Buddhism can be tamed sufficiently to be of interest to Naturalists. He also wonders, once one has stripped Buddhism of everything supernatural or dualistic, whether what remains is recognizably Buddhist, and whether it is philosophically deep, interesting, or useful.

Continue reading here at The Existential Buddhist

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Bhikkhu Bodhi on craving

By its own nature craving is insatiable, and thus the more our personal lives are governed by the assumption that the gratification of craving is the way to happiness, the more we are bound to reap disappointment.

Bhikkhu Bodhi, Walking even amidst the uneven

HH Dalai Lama on Dealing With Anger

Friday, December 02, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

footfalls echo in the memory

Footfalls echo in the memory
down the passage which we did not take
towards the door we never opened
into the rose garden. My words echo
thus, in your mind.

Four Quartets, T S Eliot

Monday, November 14, 2011

no longer a need to say it

So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years-
Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l'entre deux guerres—
Trying to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it.

Four Quartets, T S Eliot

Saturday, November 12, 2011

in a dark time

In a Dark Time by Theodore Roethke

In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood--
A lord of nature weeping to a tree,
I live between the heron and the wren,
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.

What's madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day's on fire!
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall,
That place among the rocks--is it a cave,
Or winding path? The edge is what I have.
A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight come again!
A man goes far to find out what he is--
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.

Dark,dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

cyclic existence attachment develops for one desire, ends, and then develops for another desire.

Monday, November 07, 2011


Painting’s analogy to skin isn’t new:
the painted surface is a hide where battle-scars remain as a record of its experiences.

Hanneline Rogeberg

Saturday, October 29, 2011

life goes on

Oh when the day is gone
Oh when the nights are long
Life goes on
Life goes on

Gym Class Heroes

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

true interiorization

The deepest subjective experiences are also the most universal, because through them one reaches the original source of life. True interiorization leads to a universality inaccessible to those who remain on the periphery.

E. M. Cioran - On the Heights of Despair

Thursday, October 06, 2011

knocking heads

That's when you know you're in love.

A Tribute to Love: Steve and Laurene Jobs
A most intimate kind of touch.

A Tribute to Love Steve and Laurene Jobs

Monday, September 26, 2011

love is an end unto itself - Tagore

For love is an end unto itself. Everything else raises the question "Why?" in our mind, and we require a reason for it. But when we say, "I love", then there is no room for the "why"; it is the final answer in itself. Tagore - The Problem of Self

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tagore - ruins of the years

One sad voice has its nest among the ruins of the years. It sings to me in the night - "I loved you." Tagore

Friday, September 09, 2011

the in-between state

We are told about the pain of chasing after pleasure and the futility of running from pain. We hear also about the joy of awakening, of realizing our interconnectedness, of trusting the openness of our hearts and minds. But we aren't told all that much about this state of being in-between, no longer able to get our old comfort from the outside but not yet dwelling in a continual sense of equanimity and warmth.
Anxiety, heartbreak, and tenderness mark the in-between state. It's the kind of place we usually want to avoid. The challenge is to stay in the middle rather than buy into struggle and complaint. The challenge is to let it soften us rather than make us more rigid and afraid. Becoming intimate with the queasy feeling of being in the middle of nowhere only makes our hearts more tender. When we are brave enough to stay in the middle, compassion arises spontaneously. By not knowing, not hoping to know, and not acting like we know what's happening, we begin to access our inner strength.
Yet, it seems reasonable to want some kind of relief. If we can make the situation right or wrong, if we can pin it down in any way, then we are on familiar ground. But something has shaken up our habitual patterns and frequently they no longer work. Staying with volatile energy gradually becomes more comfortable than acting out or repressing it. This open-ended tender place is called bodhichitta. Staying with it is what heals. It allows us to let go of our self-importance. It's how the warrior learns to love.
Pema Chodron, The Places That Scare You

Monday, August 29, 2011

drop in the unfathomable abysss

However deep one's knowledge of abstruse philosophy, it is like a piece of hair flying in the vastness of space; however important one's experiences in things worldly, it is like a drop of water thrown into an unfathomable abyss. - D T Suzuki, An Introduction to Zen Buddhism

Matter of Heart: Carl Jung [FULL DOCUMENTARY]

Sunday, August 28, 2011


“Hemingway gave us a haunting clue to it [charisma],” she replied. “In his obsession with the Spanish bullfights, he spoke of the lust of the crowd and its desire to feel something special, a raw authenticity, even in so brutal a setting. What he mentions is the hush that would come over the crowd at the entrance of the toreadors. The people could sense the difference between those who did it for the fame, the paycheck, and those who had the old spirit: the nobility, bravery, heart, ‘duende.’ I believe this also happens in the theater. The crowd can sense the one with the authentic message, the connection to the truth.”

-Soprano Aprile Millo

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

at that hour when all things have repose


At that hour when all things have repose,
O lonely watcher of the skies,
Do you hear the night wind and the sighs
Of harps playing unto Love to unclose
The pale gates of sunrise?

When all things repose do you alone
Awake to hear the sweet harps play
To Love before him on his way,
And the night wind answering to antiphon
Till night is overgone?

Play on, invisible harps, unto Love,
Whose way in heaven is aglow
At that hour when soft lights come and go,
Soft sweet music in the air above
And in the earth below.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

spiritual life

The spiritual life can be accurately represented by a diagram of a large acute triangle divided into unequal parts... At the apex of the topmost division there stands sometimes only a single man. His joyful vision is like an inner, immeasurable sorrow. Those who are closest to him do not understand him and in their indignation, call him deranged: a phone or a candidate for the madhouse. Wassily Kandinsky, Concerning the Spiritual in Art

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

true love

True love overcomes time and distance.
If it doesn't, then it never was.

Monday, August 01, 2011

perfect losing

The greedy man who is fond of his fish stew has no compunction in cutting up the fish according to his need. But the man who loves the fish wants to enjoy it in the water; and if that is impossible, he waits on the bank, and even if he comes back home without a sight of it he has the consolation of knowing that the fish is all right. Perfect gain is the best of all; but if that is impossible, then the next best gain is perfect losing.

Tagore, The home and the world

Sunday, July 31, 2011

no fire like passion

There is no fire like passion,
there is no grip like hatred,
there is no net like ignorance,
there is no river like craving.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Bridging the Faith Divide

HH Dalai Lama's talk on 17 July, 2011 at the University of Illinois.

Dalai Lama on what surprises him the most

When The Dalai Lama was asked what surprised him most, he said, “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cherokee legend

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Sunday, July 24, 2011

realization of Self

This Self is not realizable by study nor even by intelligence and learning. The Self reveals its essence only to him who applies himself to the Self. He who has not given up ways of vice, who cannot control himself, who is not at peace within, whose mind is distracted, can never realize the Self, though full of all learning in the world.

Katha Upanishad

Saturday, July 23, 2011

this truth is to be lived

This truth is to be lived,
it is not to be merely pronounced with the mouth...

Hui Neng

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

arising and cessation

Whatsoever is of a nature to arise,
all that is of a nature to cease


Sunday, July 17, 2011


The Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma
translated by Red Pine aka Bill Porter

Read here

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

meditation on death

"The disciple who devotes himself to this contemplation of death is always vigilant, takes no delight in any form of existence, gives up hankering after life, censures evil doing, is free from craving as regards the requisites of life, his perception of impermanence becomes established, he realizes the painful and soulless nature of existence and at the moment of death he is devoid of fear, and remains mindful and self-possessed. Finally, if in this present life he fails to attain to Nibbana, upon the dissolution of the body he is bound for a happy destiny."


Saturday, June 04, 2011

The Mountain from TSO Photography on Vimeo.

the cord of communion

"I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you - especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I have a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boisterous Channel, and two hundred miles or so of land come broad between us, I am afraid that the cord of communion will snapped; and then I've a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly. As for you, you'd forget me."

Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Kabir - whilst you live

O Friend, hope for him whilst you live, know whilst you live,
understand whilst you live; for in life deliverance abides.
If your bonds be not broken whilst living,
what hope of deliverance in death?
It is but an empty dream that the soul shall have union with Him
because it has passed from the body;
If He is found now, He is found then.
If not, we do but go to dwell in the City of Death.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

in that the world is monstrous

In that the world is monstrous. In that the world can lead a man to nothing but despair, and a despair so complete, so resolute, that nothing can open the door of this prison, which is hopelessness, A. peers through the bars of his cell and finds only one thought that brings him any consolation: the image of his son. And not just his son, but any son, any daughter, any child of any woman or man.

In that the world is monstrous. In that it seems to offer no hope of a future, A. looks at his son and realizes that he must not allow himself to despair. There is this responsibility for a young life, and in that he has brought this life into being, he must not despair. Minute by minute, hour by hour, as he remains in the presence of his son, attending to his needs, giving himself up to this young life, which is a continual injunction to remain in the present, he feels his despair evaporate. And even though he continues to despair, he does not allow himself to despair.

The thought of a child's suffering, therefore, is monstrous to him. It is even more monstrous than the monstrosity of the world itself. For it robs the world of its one consolation, and in that a world can be imagined without consolation, it is monstrous.

He can go no farther than this.

The invention of solitude - Paul Auster, Collected Prose

Monday, April 18, 2011

true overcoming

You dread the depths; it should horrify you, since the way of what is to come leads through it.
You must endure the temptation of fear and doubt, and at the same time acknowledge to the bone that your fear is justified and your doubt is reasonable. How otherwise could it be a true temptation and a true overcoming?

Carl Jung, The Red Book

Sunday, April 17, 2011

call of solitude

Have you not had monasteries?
Have not countless thousands gone into the desert?
You should carry the monastery in yourself.
The desert is within you.
The desert calls you and draws you back,
and if you were fettered to the world of this time with iron,
the call of the desert would break all chains.
Truly, I prepare you for solitude.

Carl Jung, The Red Book

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

fifty days of solitude

In a letter sent to me from Hereford, England, the writer D. M. Thomas explained why he had left his academic appointment at American University in Washington, D.C., so precipitously:
"It was a dreadful thing to do - my flight - but I had a sense of peril, as a person and as a writer (the same thing).... I knew that if I spent three months being 'the successful author of The White Hotel' I would quite likely become that and that only. I have to be the unsuccessful writer of the blank page before me."

Taken from Fifty days of solitude by Doris Grumbach

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

and so it is with awakening

The Abbess once said,

"If a person is always surrounded by music, she may never imagine there is an alternative. But if, after many years, she comes to a place where there is no music, she may be surprised, may be even shocked, by the relief of not hearing any sound.

If her experience of silence makes a strong enough impression, then when she returns to the world of music, she will not only hear the music but also the silence which is always here with the music.

With awakening, you will know a peace which is always here."

Taken from Monastery Within - Gil Fronsdal


In the emptiness
is fullness.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Gil Fronsdal - a monastery within

A new book by Gil Fronsdal.

Inspired by his years of Buddhist monastic life, Gil Fronsdal has written these warm-hearted stories as part of the tradition of teaching through storytelling. These are tales of transformation and spiritual growth. They delight and challenge as they express different facets of the Buddhist path to liberation in familiar, yet fresh and engaging, ways. These stories can be reread often, each time supporting new reflections on the spiritual life and the possibility of each person awakening to the kindness, clarity and insight available to all of us. A Monastery Within points to how each person can build an inner home for the awakened life.

Taken from Insight Meditation Center

Monday, March 28, 2011

merton - only in the void

Only in the void
are all ways one;

Only in the darkness
are all the lost

Thomas Merton

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Saturday, March 19, 2011

the heart crosses it

The mind creates the abyss
but the heart crosses it.

Stephen Levine

a higher love

The best relationship is one in which
your love for each other exceeds
your need for each other.

HH 14th Dalai Lama

Sunday, March 13, 2011

not everything assumes a name - Solzhenitsyn

Not everything assumes a name. Some things lead beyond words. Art inflames even a frozen, darkened soul to a high spiritual experience. Through art we are sometimes visited - dimly, briefly - by revelations such as cannot be produced by rational thinking.

Alexander Solzhenitysyn
Nobel Lecture in Literature 1970

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

eternal return

This slow spider dragging itself toward the light of the moon
and that same moonlight,
and you and I whispering at the gateway,
whispering of eternal things,
haven't we already coincided in the past?
And won't we happen again on the long road,
on this long tremulous road,
won't we recur eternally?


Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Friday, March 04, 2011

James Nachtwey: "Struggle to Live - the fight against TB"

James Nachtwey has documented the resurgence of tuberculosis and its varying strains MDR and XDR in seven countries around the world. These countries include Cambodia, Lesotho, South Africa, Siberia, India, Swaziland, and Thailand. He has captured the lives of both patients and health care workers in the struggle against this ancient disease, which still remains very much a part of the present. Not only does TB remain a killer disease in its most recognizable form but it is mutating into even more deadly forms: multi-drug resistant (MDR) and extremely drug resistant (XDR) TB. While still a small subset of the TB cases, these new strains pose a grave global health threat. XDR-TB is a man-made catastrophe, resulting from too few resources being allocated for the proper diagnosis and treatment of TB patients in developing countries.

Despite the fact that tuberculosis afflicts a huge number of people its not on the radar screen in terms of public awareness. Normal tuberculosis, if diagnosed and treated diligently, is very inexpensive and doesnt take very long to cure. But if normal TB is not treated, it mutates and becomes 100 times more expensive, requires a two-year cure and a long stay in the hospital, which many of those infected cannot afford. The thought of XDR getting out of control is truly frightening, says James Nachtwey.


(c) 2010 James Nachtwey, BURN Magazine. All Rights Reserved.

sutta-nipata: the worn-out skin

The Worn-out Skin - Reflections on the Uraga Sutta by
Nyanaponika Thera


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. The physical act of walking consists not only in the "freeing" action of lifting and stretching the foot, but also in the "binding" function of lowering it and placing it firmly on the ground. Analogously, in mental movement, there is the same need for support as well as for uplift and forward advancement.

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. With the habituation to a life of inner and outer bondage, there grows what Erich Fromm calls a "fear of freedom." Such fear, if allowed to persist and take root, inevitably leads to a stagnation of our inner growth and creativeness as well as to a stagnant society and culture. In a state of stagnation, toxic elements will endanger mankind's healthy progress — physical and mental, social and spiritual. Then William Blake's words will prove true: "Expect poison from stagnant water."

Those too who say "Yes" to life and wish to protect mankind from decline by its self-produced toxins — biological and psychological — will also have to shed that "fear of freedom" and enter freedom's arduous way. It is an arduous way because it demands of us that we break the self-forged fetters of our lusts and hates, our prejudices and dogmas — fetters we foolishly cherish as ornaments. But once we see them for what they really are, obstacles to true freedom, the hard task of discarding them will become at the same time a joyous experience.

The Sutta Nipata, however, warns repeatedly of false ideas of freedom. He is not truly free who only follows his self-willed whims and desires (chandagu, v.913), who is carried along by them (chandanunito, v.731). Nor can true freedom be found by those who only seek to exchange one bondage for another.

Continue reading: Access to Insight

Other writings by Nyanaponka Thera: More articles at Access to Insight

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


What distinguishes the Buddha's program for self-transformation from the multitude of other systems proposing a similar end is the contribution made by another principle with which it is invariably conjoined. This is the principle of self-transcendence, the endeavor to relinquish all attempts to establish a sense of solid personal identity. In the Buddhist training the aim of transforming the personality must be complemented by a parallel effort to overcome all identification with the elements that constitute our phenomenal being. The teaching of anatta or not-self is not so much a philosophical thesis calling for intellectual assent as a prescription for self-transcendence. It maintains that our ongoing attempt to establish a sense of identity by taking our personalities to be "I" and "mine" is in actuality a project born out of clinging, a project that at the same time lies at the root of our suffering. If, therefore, we seek to be free from suffering, we cannot stop with the transformation of the personality into some sublime and elevated mode as the final goal. What is needed, rather, is a transformation that brings about the removal of clinging, and with it, the removal of all tendencies to self-affirmation.

Bhikkhu Bodhi

Continue reading: Access to Insight

Finding Happiness in Troubled Times

Always such a joy to listen to His Holiness.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

McBride Martina- In my daughter's eyes (With lyrics)

In my daughter's eyes I am a hero
I am strong and wise and I know no fear
But the truth is plain to see
She was sent to rescue me
I see who I wanna be
In my daughter's eyes

In my daughter's eyes everyone is equal
Darkness turns to light and the
world is at peace
This miracle God gave to me gives me
strength when I am weak
I find reason to believe
In my daughter's eyes

And when she wraps her hand
around my finger
Oh it puts a smile in my heart
Everything becomes a little clearer
I realize what life is all about

It's hangin' on when your heart
has had enough
It's giving more when you feel like giving up
I've seen the light
It's in my daughter's eyes

In my daughter's eyes I can see the future
A reflection of who I am and what will be
Though she'll grow and someday leave
Maybe raise a family
When I'm gone I hope you see how happy
she made me
For I'll be there
In my daughter's eyes

Monday, February 28, 2011

relevance in today's world

In line with this aim it is essential for us that the Dhamma be addressed not only to its original and primary task of indicating the timeless path to deliverance, but also to those vexing existential problems posed by the particular circumstances of our age. Prominent among these is the widespread moral and spiritual deterioration evident in so many spheres of human life. For increasing numbers of people both East and West, cynicism, skepticism and a narrow fixation on material goals have toppled traditional views and values without offering any satisfactory alternatives to replace them. Thus, while our sciences unlock the most obscure secrets of nature and yield its powers to our control, we find ourselves beset with a sense of inner poverty, destitute of those fundamental guiding principles which can give a deeper and richer meaning to our lives.

At the root of our current spiritual disorder lies a distorted conception of value which locates the ultimate end of human activity in the satisfaction of personal desire. Tacitly accepted and adhered to without reflective awareness, this thesis has become the dominant working basis for contemporary civilization. Mobilizing individuals, ethnic groups and nations alike, it draws them into an enervating chase after the achievement of power, wealth and pleasure, and pits them against one another in a struggle for supremacy marked either by cool suspicion or by vehement hate. Given a creed of self-fulfillment in an age of declining moral vigor, it is not astonishing that in the midst of plenty we witness all around us a frantic search for instant gratification and a rising tide of destructiveness unconstrained by even the least human sympathy.

To remedy this disturbing situation, moralistic preaching will not suffice, nor can much be expected from economic, social and political reforms isolated from more fundamental changes. For at its core our crisis is a crisis of consciousness. Its real origins go deeper than our institutions, deeper than our cultural norms, deeper than our avowed motives and goals. Its origins lie in the hidden strata of the mind, in the breeding place of those tumultuous emotional and volitional forces which the Buddha summed up in the three "roots of evil" — greed, hatred and delusion.

What is most crucial, therefore, if there is to be any change in the direction of the world, is a change in those who make up the world, that is, in ourselves. To achieve our own genuine welfare and effectively promote the welfare of others, we require the acumen to distinguish clearly what is truly in our interest and what may be immediately pleasurable but ultimately harmful; and we require too the stamina to undertake the work of liberating our minds from the bonds of greed, hatred and delusion. Admittedly, the number of those who will see the need for inward change and make the appropriate effort will always be small. However, the difficulty does not annul the necessity. For those of clear vision who are responsive to the call of the good there can be no choice but to take up the long hard task of self-transformation.

Bhikkhu Bodhi

Continue reading:
Access to Insight

Saturday, February 12, 2011

happiest and saddest

“Are you happiest and saddest right now that you’ve ever been?” “Of course I am.” “Why?” “Because nothing makes me happier and nothing makes me sadder than you.”

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

Friday, February 11, 2011

only one you love the most

You may love many people in this world,
but there is only one you love the most.


Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Maha-mangala Sutta: highest protection

I have heard that at one time the Blessed One was staying in Savatthi at Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's monastery. Then a certain deva, in the far extreme of the night, her extreme radiance lighting up the entirety of Jeta's Grove, approached the Blessed One. On approaching, having bowed down to the Blessed One, she stood to one side. As she stood to one side, she addressed him with a verse.

Many devas and human beings
give thought to protection,
desiring well-being.
Tell, then, the highest protection.
The Buddha:
Not consorting with fools,
consorting with the wise,
paying homage to those worthy of homage:
This is the highest protection.

Living in a civilized land,
having made merit in the past,
directing oneself rightly:
This is the highest protection.

Broad knowledge, skill,
well-mastered discipline,
well-spoken words:
This is the highest protection.

Support for one's parents,
assistance to one's wife and children,
consistency in one's work:
This is the highest protection.

Giving, living in rectitude,
assistance to one's relatives,
deeds that are blameless:
This is the highest protection.

Avoiding, abstaining from evil;
refraining from intoxicants,
being heedful of the qualities of the mind:
This is the highest protection.

Respect, humility,
contentment, gratitude,
hearing the Dhamma on timely occasions:
This is the highest protection.

Patience, compliance,
seeing contemplatives,
discussing the Dhamma on timely occasions:
This is the highest protection.

Austerity, celibacy,
seeing the Noble Truths,
realizing Unbinding:
This is the highest protection.

A mind that, when touched
by the ways of the world,
is unshaken, sorrowless, dustless, at rest:
This is the highest protection.

Everywhere undefeated
when acting in this way,
people go everywhere in well-being:
This is their highest protection.

Translated from Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
Access to Insight

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

taking stock of oneself - bhikkhu bodhi

Though in principle the Buddhist path leads straight and unerringly from bondage to freedom, when we apply it to ourselves it often seems to take a tortuous route as imposed by the twists and turns of our own contorted mental topography. Unless we have exceptionally mature wholesome roots, we cannot expect to approach the goal "as the crow flies," soaring unhindered through the quick and blissful skyways of the jhanas and higher insights. Instead we must be prepared to tread the path at ground level, moving slowly, steadily and cautiously through the winding mountain roads of our own minds. We begin at the inevitable point of departure — with the unique constellation of personal qualities, habits and potentials that we bring with us into the practice. Our ingrained defilements and obstinate delusions, as well as our hidden reserves of goodness, inner strength and wisdom — these are at once the material out of which the practice is forged, the terrain to be passed through, and the vehicle that takes us to our destination.

Confidence in the Buddhist path is a prerequisite for persisting on this journey. Yet it often happens that though we may be fully convinced of the liberating efficacy of the Dhamma, we stumble along perplexed as to how we can apply the Dhamma fruitfully to ourselves. One major step toward reaping the benefits of Dhamma practice consists in making an honest assessment of one's own character. If we are to utilize effectively the methods the Buddha has taught for overcoming the mind's defilements, we first must take stock of those particular defilements that are prevalent in our individual makeup. It will not suffice for us to sit back and console ourselves with the thought that the path leads infallibly to the end of greed, hate and delusion. For the path to be effective in our own practice, we have to become familiar with our own persistent greeds, hates and delusions as they crop up in the round of daily life. Without this honest confrontation with ourselves, all our other pursuits of Dhamma may be to no avail and can actually lead us astray. Though we may gain extensive knowledge of the Buddhist scriptures, clarify our view and sharpen our powers of thought, invest so many hours on the meditation cushion and walkway, if we do not attend to the blemishes in our characters, these other achievements, far from extricating the defilements, may instead only go to reinforce them.

Yet, though honest self-assessment is one of the most vital steps in Dhamma practice, it is also one of the most difficult. What makes it so difficult is the radically new perspective that must be adopted to undertake an investigation of oneself and the dense barriers that must be penetrated to arrive at truthful self-understanding. In attempting to assess ourselves we are no longer observing an external entity which we can treat as an adventitious object to be evaluated in terms of our subjective purposes. We are observing instead the seat of observation itself, that most elusive center from which we gaze out upon the world, and we are doing so in a mode which casts all its motives and projects in a critical light. To enter this domain of inquiry is to run smack up against our very sense of personal identity, and thus to have to pierce the thick screens of delusion and blind emotivity which keep that sense of identity intact.

Continue reading here at Access to Insight:
Taking stock of oneself by Bhikkhu Bodhi

Monday, February 07, 2011


Be patient with all that is unresolved in your heart.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Wednesday, February 02, 2011


Originally uploaded by madsolitaire
I wish you much love, joy, laughter, bliss,
none of which i could give you
there is nothing i would not have given you.


Tuesday, February 01, 2011

In memory of Ajahn Maha Boowa 1913-2011

The Venerable Ajahn Maha Boowa, sometimes spelled Maha Bua, was the abbot of the Way Pa Bahn Tahd, a monastery in the forest of North-East Thailand. He passed away around 3.15 am (local time), on January 29, 2011. He was 98.

Article at Buddhist Channel

Monday, January 31, 2011

Sunday, January 30, 2011

a journey unto himself

Every person's life is a journey toward himself, the attempt at a journey, the intimation of a path. No person has ever been completely himself, but each one strives to become so, some gropingly, others more lucidly, according to his abilities. Each one carries with him to the end traces of his birth, the slime and eggshells of a primordial world. Many a one never becomes a human being, but remains a frog, lizard or ant. Many a one is a human being above and a fish below. But each one is a gamble of Nature, a hopeful attempt at forming a human being. We all have a common origin,the Mothers, we all come out of the same abyss; but each of us, a trial throw of the dice from the depths, strives toward his own goal. We can understand one another, but each of us can only interpret himself.

Demian, Hermmann Hesse

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mind and Life XXII - Session Two

"Foundations for Scientific Understanding of Contemplative Practices", the second session of the Mind and Life XXII Conference: Contemplative Science, held in New Delhi, India from November 21st to 23rd, 2010. Presenters include His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Mattieu Ricard (comtemplative practitioner), and Richard Davidson (scientist). The moderator is Daniel Goldman and the interpreter is Thupten Jinpa. Discussants include Wolf Singer (scientist), John Dunne (contemplative scholar) and Rajesh Kasturirangan (scientist). (,

Other sessions found on youtube.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Buddhist ethics

From the Buddhist standpoint the comprehension of spiritual truth is not a matter of mere intellectual cogitation but of existential actualization. That is, it is a matter of grasping with our whole being the truth towards which we aspire, and of inwardly appropriating that truth in a manner so total and complete that our being becomes transformed into a very reflex and effusion of the truth upon which we stand. The understanding of truth in the context of the spiritual life, in other words, is no affair of accumulating bits and pieces of information publicly accessible and subjectively indifferent; it is, rather, a process of uncovering the deepest truths about ourselves and about the world, and of working the understanding that emerges into the entire complex of the inner life. Hence the use of the words "actualization" and "realization," which bring into the open the ontological backdrop underlying the noetic process.

Bhikkhu Bodhi
Nourishing the Roots: Essays on Buddhist Ethics