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Buddhism

Bodhicitta

On a cool crisp spring morning, while the sun was rising silently over the horizon, the birds woke from their slumber and started singing their sweet songs – an ancient master while sipping tea whispered this wisdom to no one in particular, “Great is the matter of birth and death; Life is quickly slipping by. Wake up! Wake up! Don’t waste another moment. Don’t waste this precious life!”
This is the start of the Bodhisattva Path.
In the Zen tradition and other branches of Mahayana Buddhism this is where we start. We look into the great matter of life and death. We slow down our busyness and take a moment to ask the great questions…

What am I?
What does it mean to be alive?
What is this life for?
What am I supposed to do with my life?
Why am I here?

It’s from this place of courageous wonder that awakening is realized.
As we mature in our practice, our selfishness begins to dissolve. What initially brought us to the dharma – our pain, our stress, our existential crisis begins to fade from memory. We start to see and know that our lives are not our own and there is a reason why we’re here.

Why You’re Here

Your life is not about you
It’s about all the people around you
All the people you can touch
All the people you can help

It’s so apparent when we stop to think about it for a moment.

We are life itself
We are infinitely connected to everything and everyone.
There is no separation.

But we’re not shown this.
We’re not given the time and patience to see it for ourselves.

But once you do – once you can see it then within the very fibre of your being you know that the only real purpose for your life is to give it away

To dedicate it to a greater purpose
To a greater goal

That you were born with a mission
A reason for being alive

And that reason is all around you

You are here to help
To heal
To love
To connect

And to reach out and use whatever gifts and talents that you have to make other people’s lives better

To help free them from the suffering
To help them find true authentic happiness
To help them awaken
And to inspire them to do the same for others

Your life is not about you
It’s about all the people around you

All the people you can touch
All the people you can help

Your life isn’t yours

It’s theirs

May you start to use this precious human life for the benefit of all.

This heart opening is tied together with the heart-felt-wish and vow to the great work of attaining awakening – not only for ourselves but really for the benefit of others.
We see how we’re suffering, we see how all the world is caught up in greed, hatred and delusion and we know that it doesn’t have to be that way.
We start to feel that another path is possible. That a different kind of world is possible and a great confidence begins to arise in us. A confidence in our own capacity – in the inherent potential within us (Buddha Nature) – and in actualizing the potential that we can now feel for ourselves.
This is the birth of a Bodhisattva.

Bodhisattva (“enlightenment being”): The spiritual ideal of the Mahayana, a selfless being with universal compassion who has generated the profound aspiration to achieve enlightenment in order to benefit sentient beings. In the course of their spiritual careers, bodhisattvas engage in the practice of the six perfections and pass through stages of increasingly higher levels of spiritual accomplishment.

The Bodhisattva path is a path of contradictions. You can’t be rigid and fixed about anything really.
Each element of the Bodhisattva path is a conundrum.

  • Bodhicitta is the wish for awakening for the benefit of all and awakening itself
  • The Paramitas as the teachings to help us awaken and the natural expression of awakening
  • OM Mani Padme Hum as a skillful means to actualize the potential of awakening and help us let go of what we’re learning
  • Avalokitesvara as spiritual ideal or embodiment of that awakening, but an ideal that we can actually feel within us
  • Bodhisattvas – the everyday embodiment of and expression of awakening in the most mundane of circumstance and through the most normal of people – it’s not about living on the mountaintop it’s about going deep into the marketplace
  • The Path itself – which we walk and the more we travel along it, the more it unfolds, is the more we realize there is no path, no awakening, no person that experiences awakening and no sentient beings to save and nothing to save them from

This is the Bodhisattva way – to be able to be at ease in uncertainty. To be comfortable in uncomfortable situations. To have one foot in form and another in formlessness.
My teacher Zen Master Hwasun Yangil Sunim said this one day to me, “If anyone asks you what kind of person you are you tell that that you have one foot in wisdom and one foot in helping all beings.”
Whatever realization and awakening we have it cannot be called awakening unless it’s directed toward bringing benefit to all beings.
And the Bodhisattva path is a process of doing just that.
Bodhicitta – This Wish to Attain Enlightenment for the Benefit of All Beings
There may have been a couple times in our lives where we’ve actually tasted freedom – even for just the most fleeting of moments.
Some kind of rare and magnificent moment of peace, ecstasy, insight, oneness, love and compassion. A beautiful moment that we may have just stumbled upon. Where something drops away and we open up into a fresh and boundless state of awareness. Simple, sweet lucidity. One usually filled with fullness, oneness, awareness, clarity, stillness, and love. This new dimension completely changes the way that we see things – for maybe just the briefest of moments.
These instances come in many forms: being in nature (seeing a sunset), listening to music, looking at a beautiful painting, gazing at someone they love, in the ecstasy of orgasm, reading something that makes the world stop, and from meditation (just to name a few).
We experience freedom from our habitual patterns, freedom from our likes and dislikes, freedom from our selfish little self.
And maybe there, in that freedom, in that release, in that vast spacious radiance – when our heart cracks open and we feel this sense of ease, clarity, contentment and joy – where oneness is a real experience – in that moment we may have had a thought, a faint glimmer of an idea – a soft whisper of, “Wow! Wouldn’t it be nice if we all could experience this, if we all could see this. If we all could feel this way. I wish we all could be free and happy like I am right now. I feel so alive, so at ease, so full of contentment. I know that it’s possible for all of us to experience this. I want to help others to see this, to feel this, to experience this for themselves”
This is a teeny tiny taste of Bodhicitta.

Bodhicitta can be translated as awakened mind or the heart essence of awakened mind. Sometimes it’s presented as the wish to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all beings.

In various traditions they talk about relative bodhicitta and ultimate bodhicitta.
Relative Bodhicitta can be the desire to achieve awakening not only for ourselves but for all sentient beings and ultimate Bodhicitta is the direct realization and embodiment of awakening.
The Journey of Relative Bodhicitta

It usually starts with some sort of pain, stress, hardship or some experience of hollowness in our lives.

We know that…

We want to feel happy again.
We want to feel at ease again.
We want to feel safe.
We want to feel well.

Or there’s this nagging feeling that there’s gotta be something more to life – more to you – more to what it means to be a human being.

And then you start off on your journey.

You start reading spiritual books, take some workshops, try some yoga.

We all know some aspect of this.

And things get better – more mysterious and magical in many ways – but still something is missing.

Then you maybe find a group or teacher you resonate with. They inspire you to practice. To take what you’re doing a little more seriously.

And you do – well at least you try a little bit harder.

Then you have that first feeling – where you’ve broken through the armour of the selfish self, where you see that everyone is hurting in some way, that you’re hurting in some way, that this pain has made you do crazy things, it’s making us all do crazy things and you really start to develop a deep longing to be free from that pain, that isolation, those harmful mindstates and unskillful behaviours.

You start to see that you DO have some power over your life. Some power over yourself. That you can change your thoughts, words and deeds such that they minimize the burden you’re placing on others and yourself and now you’re trying to be more of a blessing in the world.

You start to practice a little more. You catch yourself a little sooner when you’re being carried away by unskillful states of mind. Your thoughts, words and deeds become a little more noble.

Then we start to feel a little bit happier, more at ease, a little safer and we start to experience a strange sense of well-being.

Then a little further on we start to want those same things for others.

That they feel happy.
That they feel at ease.
That they feel safe.
That they feel well.

We start to feel love.
A deep love that only sees oneness.

Then from this this newfound realization of love and oneness we start to feel again.

Something opens in us.

And maybe we start to notice a new-found inner silence. A stillness. That the petty tyrant of our small “me-me-me” mind has become quieter. That there seems to be a little more time between thoughts.

That you find yourself more and more in a grounded state of presence.

Now illusionary barriers of separation have begin to really dissolve.

We begin to know beyond reason that other’s joy is our joy. Their ease is our ease. Their pain is our pain.

We know this because it’s getting harder and harder to see and feel these hard lines that seperate us.

We’re opening up even more.

In those moments where we experience this freedom of presence – a heart-felt wish springs up – that you wish that we all can experience this potential for themselves.

We wish that all people become free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
We start wishing that we all experience happiness and the causes of happiness.

It’s a heartfelt wish.

And maybe we feel that more and more when we come here. We see the teacher, we see our fellow sangha members, when we sip tea, we hear the teachings and meditate.

That wish starts to grow.

It then may grow into the heartfelt wish to attain enlightenment, not only for ourselves but for others as well – for all sentient beings.

But we need more than a wish.

We need to take action. We need to put some effort into it. Some sort of determination and resolve.

And now we take our practice more seriously. We dedicate more time for meditation. We go to dharma takes more regularly. We actively investigate our unconscious tendencies. We start to redirect our energies from harmful to helpful activities. We start to really be mindful of our thoughts, words and deeds and now make a dedicated effort to becoming a blessing to the world.

And now – a dogged and compassionate resolve to do something about the world emerges.

We have seen personally how the dharma and the practice has benefited us and we want the same for others.

We start to have a certainty – that it doesn’t matter what gets in the way or how long it takes you’re committed to awakening, you’re committed to dealing with your own garbage, you’re committed to showing up to your life – to every aspect of it.

You become compassionately committed to do what you can to help all beings awaken.

Now at this point the Bodhisattva Vow starts to make sense and speaks to us in new ways.

Bodhisattva Vow

Beings and creations are numberless,
I vow to free them.
Delusions are inexhaustible,
I vow to transform them.
Reality is boundless,
I vow to perceive it.
The enlightened way is unsurpassable,
I vow to embody it.

We let forth our lions roar.

As long as space remains
As long as sentient beings remain
I too shall remain
To free us all

And now energy of awakening begins to flow through us more easily

And the words of Master Santideva spring forth from our hearts

THE WAY OF THE BODHISATTVA

Thus by the virtue collected
Through all that I have done,
May the pain of every living creature
Be completely cleared away!

May I be the doctor and the medicine
And may I be the nurse
For the sick beings in the world
Until everyone is healed!

May a rain of food and drink descend
To clear away the pain of thirst and hunger,
And during the eon of famine
May I myself change into food and drink!

May I become an inexhaustible treasure
For those who are poor and destitute;
May I turn into all things they need
And may these be placed close beside them!

Whether those who encounter me
Conceive a faithful or an angry thought,
May that always become the source
For fulfilling all their wishes!

May all who say bad things to me
Or cause me any other harm,
And those who mock and insult me
Have the fortune to awaken fully!

May I be a protector of those without one,
A guide for all travelers on the way;

May I be a bridge, a boat, and a ship
For all who wish to cross the water!

May I be an island for those who seek one,
And a lamp for those desiring light!
May I be a bed for all who wish to rest.

May I be a wishing jewel, a magic vase,
Powerful mantras, and great medicine,
May I be a wish-fulfilling tree,
And a cow of plenty for the world!

Just like space
And the great elements such as earth,
May I always support the life
Of all the countless creatures!

And until they’re free from suffering,
May I also be the source of life
For all the realms of varied beings
That reach unto the ends of space!

Just as the previous Sugatas
Conceived the Spirit of Enlightenment,
And just as they successively lived
In the Bodhisattva practices

Likewise for the sake of all that lives
Do I conceive the Spirit of
Enlightenment,
And likewise shall I too
Successively follow the practices.

So what are these Bodhisattva practices?
Bodhisattva Practices
Just as athletes train so do those of us that want to actualize our awakened potential need to train as well.
In the Samdhinirmocana Sutra the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara asks the Buddha, “How many bases for training are there for those seeking enlightenment?”
The Buddha replied, “There are six: generosity, morality, patience, energy, meditation, and wisdom.”
“Blessed One, why are these bases of training known as a six fold classification?”
“Avalokiteśvara, there are two reasons. It is because they benefit sentient beings, and because they are antidotes to the afflictions. Know that three [perfections] benefit sentient beings, while three are antidotes to the afflictions.
Bodhisattvas benefit sentient beings by giving them material goods, they benefit them through generosity.
Because they benefit beings by not impoverishing them, not harming them, nor scorning them, they benefit them through ethics.
Because they benefit beings by not even considering [their own] impoverishment, harm, or scorn, they benefit them through patience.
Thus they benefit sentient beings through these three [perfections].
Through effort they apply themselves to a virtuous course that overcomes and completely conquers the afflictions. Thus, the afflictions are unable to sway them from implementing a virtuous course.
Through concentration, they suppress the afflictions.
Through wisdom, they completely destroy the pre-dispositions [toward afflictions].
These three [perfections] are antidotes to the afflictions.
The six perfections serve as bases for progressively higher achievements.
Bodhisattvas who do not focus on their bodies and physical resources attain ethics.
Those who guard their moral practice become patient.
Those who have patience initiate effort.
Those who initiate effort achieve concentration.
Those who achieve concentration attain wisdom that transcends the world.”
The Paramitas have a two-fold purpose: 1) they help us bring benefit to others 2) they help us to stop being such a burden to the world – to free us from the mental afflictions of greed hatred and delusion that are making us do so many unskillful things.
So when we talk of the Paramitas, right now for us they’re abstract concepts, distant from us, not really that inspiring. So we need to have an example of how to unfold our own awakened potential in life and the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara gives us the highest most stunningly radiant view of that potential.
This Bodhisattva shows us the embodiment of Complete Enlightenment.
We even can see this embodiment of Complete Enlightenment being expressed in the dialogue from above between the Bodhisattva of Compassion Avalokitesvara and the Buddha.
Avalokitesvara knows everything there is to know about the Paramitas. There’s nothing that the Buddha can teach on the subject that Avalokitesvara doesn’t already know and embody in every fibre of his being. His being alone is made of the Paramitas and OM Mani Padme Hum is his very essence. He himself aspired for awakening and achieved that goal.
So why then is Avalokitesvara asking all these questions about the Paramitas?
He’s asking them for you. He asking for all of us. He vowed to free all beings from suffering and he knows what sentient beings need to heal, grow and awaken to their own potential. And he knows because we’re so caught up in our own garbage that we’ll miss the chance to ask the Buddha for help. So he does it for us. He does it on our behalf.
So this series is about unfolding and exploring your own potential. It’s about taking aim at awakening and letting our arrows fly toward that target. It’s about discovering and taking on an impossible mission and then rising up to meet the challenges of that goal along the way. It’s about actualizing our very own potential right now. Not when we’re ready, not when all our ducks are in a row and the stars have aligned. It’s about starting right where you are and starting now with the belief that there’s a huge untapped potential inside of you (Buddha Nature) – and it’s time to discover it for ourselves and help others do the same.

Categories
Buddhism

My Altar

Categories
Buddhism

The Greatest

The greatest achievement is selflessness.
The greatest worth is self-mastery.
The greatest quality is seeking to serve others.
The greatest precept is continual awareness.
The greatest medicine is the emptiness of everything.
The greatest magic is transmuting the passions.
The greatest generosity is non-attachment.
The greatest goodness is a peaceful mind.
The greatest patience is humility.
The greatest effort is not concerned with results.
The greatest meditation is a mind that let’s go.
The greatest wisdom is seeing through appearances.
The greatest action is not conforming with the world’s ways. ~ Atisha

Categories
Buddhism

Accumulating Virtues

After perfectly taking the bodhisattva’s vow of moral ethics, accumulate virtues through your body, speech, and mind in order to achieve enlightenment. Briefly, these are called the “accumulation of virtues.”
What are they?
The Bodhisattva Bhumis says:

  • Maintaining and sustaining the bodhisattvas’ morality;
  • joyfully making effort in hearing,
  • contemplating and meditating;
  • performing service for and honoring all the teachers;
  • helping and nursing sick people;
  • giving properly and
  • proclaiming good qualities;
  • rejoicing in others’ merit and patience;
  • having patience when others look down on you;
  • dedicating virtue toward enlightenment and saying aspiration prayers;
  • making offerings to the Triple Gem and
  • making efforts for the virtuous teachings;
  • sustaining introspection;
  • recollecting the bodhisattva’s training;
  • protecting the bodhisattva’s training with vigilant awareness;
  • protecting all the sense-doors and
  • moderately eating food;
  • making effort in meditation practice without sleeping too early in the evening or too late in the morning;
  • attending spiritual masters and authentically holy people;
  • investigating your own mistakes and purifying them

in this way, practicing these good qualities, protecting, and increasing them are called the moral ethics of accumulating virtues.

Categories
Buddhism

The Precepts

SILA – SKILLFUL-MEANINGFUL BEHAVIOUR/ETHICS
Our natural state is empty, open, aware, vast, cognizant luminosity, spontaneous freedom, stable calm, active compassion and contended joy.
As we unfold this natural state in our lives we need to guard ourselves from our unskillful habits, patterns and tendencies. The most fundamentally basic way to do that is to be aware of and keep a watchful eye on our thoughts, words and deeds knowing well how we are still bound by karma.
The great Tibetan Guru Padmasambhava said,

“Though the view should be as vast as the sky, keep your conduct as fine as barley flour.”

And Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche commenting on the above saying,

“When training in the view you can be as unbiased, as impartial, as vast, immense and unlimited as the sky. Your behaviour on the other hand, should be as careful as possible in discriminating what is beneficial or harmful. One can combine the view and conduct, but don’t mix them or lose one in the other.”

And Zen Master Thich Thien-An said,

“Even Enlightened Ones do not act contrary to the laws which they have transcended; how much more do these laws apply to the unenlightened.”

How can we expect to achieve awakening if we are living unethical and unskillful lives? If the great masters of the past kept a watchful eye on their own behaviour and they were enlightened what makes us think that we shouldn’t do the same?
Sila (ethics) can be seen as paying attention to our life in such a way that we are living it wisely so that we may be free from remorse and blame. And how we do that is by being mindful of our behaviour. We let go of unwholesome behaviour and cultivate wholesome behaviour.
The Essence of the Buddha’s Teaching

“Commit not a single unwholesome act.
Develop a wealth of virtue.
Tame, transform, and conquer this mind of ours.
This is the essence of the teachings of the Buddhas.
Peace. Compassion. Wisdom.”

Our Inherent Power – We Are What We Think
The Buddha reminded us that there is an inherent power within us. A power to help or to harm. He said,

“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world. Speak or act with an impure mind and trouble will follow you as the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.

We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world. Speak or act with a pure mind and happiness will follow you as your shadow, unshakable.” (
From the Dhammapada translated by Thomas Byrom)

We all can see that when our thoughts, words and deeds are loving and kind our lives take on a special kind of glow. We can also see when our thoughts, words and deeds are harsh and unkind our lives become dark and grey.
Hellish Habit Energy
Our daily habits build deep grooves for our energy to flow through. Most of us have dug deep grooves of unskillful and selfish habit energy. This habit energy is inherited from our families, our countries, our societies, our communities, our culture, from the media, from our friends and from our tendencies to believe that we’re separated from all of life so we need to fight for and cling to what we believe to ours.
These energies push us to perpetuate a pattern of pain. A pattern that most of us never really see but which rules our thoughts, words, and actions.
Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh shared a story about habit energy involving one of the Buddha’s previous lives,

The Buddha, in one of his former lives, was in Hell. Before he became a Buddha he had suffered a lot in many lives. He made a lot of mistakes, like all of us. He made himself suffer, and he made people around him suffer. Sometimes he made very big mistakes, and that is why in one of his previous lives he was in Hell.

The Buddha was in Hell because he had done something wrong, extremely wrong, that caused a lot of suffering to himself and to others. That is why he found himself in Hell. In that life of his, he hit the bottom of suffering, because that Hell was the worst of all Hells.  It was dark, it was cold, and at the same time it was very hot.

With him there was another man, and together they had to work very hard, under the direction of a soldier who was in charge of Hell.

The guard did not seem to have a heart. It did not seem that he knew anything about suffering. He did not know anything about the feelings of other people, so he just beat up the two men in Hell. He was in charge of the two men, and his task was to make them suffer as much as possible.

I think that guard also suffered a lot. It looked like he didn’t have any compassion within him. It looked like he didn’t have any love in his heart. It looked like he did not have a heart. When looking at him, when listening to him, it did not seem that one could contact a human being, because he was so brutal. He was not sensitive to people’s suffering and pain. That is why he was beating the two men in Hell, and making them suffer a lot. And the Buddha was one of these two men in one of his previous lives.

The guard had an instrument with three iron points, and every time he wanted the two men to go ahead, he used this to push them on the back, and of course blood came out of their backs.

He did not allow them to relax; he was always pushing and pushing and pushing. He himself also looked like he was being pushed by something behind him.

Have you ever felt that kind of pushing behind your back?

Even if there was no one behind you, you have felt that you were being pushed and pushed to do things you don’t like to do, and to say the things you don’t like to say, and in doing that you created a lot of suffering for yourself and the people around you.

Maybe there is something behind us that is pushing and pushing.

Sometimes we say horrible things, and do horrible things, that we did not want to say or do, yet we were pushed by something from behind. So we said it, and we did it, even if we didn’t want to do it.

That was what happened to the guard in Hell: he tried to push, because he was being pushed. He caused a lot of damage to the two men. The two men were very cold, very hungry, and he was always pushing and beating them and causing them a lot of problems.

To help us along the path we need some guiding principles to help us break free of the mental, emotional and physical patterns that lead to us thinking, speaking and acting in unskillful ways. We need help navigating the troublesome spots of life so that we can live it nobly – like an awakened daughter or son of the Buddha. We need help to break free of the hellish habit energies that push us to cause suffering to others and ourselves.
The Five Precepts or Mindfulness Trainings help us to do that.
The Theravadin teacher Ajahn Amaro said that,

“What you find in the Buddha’s approach towards sila, or virtue, is that it is not an imposition upon life – as if he were thinking, “All religions are about telling people that they can’t have fun, so I suppose mine will have to be that way too.” His approach was neither an effort to put the dampers on everything people find enjoyable, nor was it a gratuitous imposition of rules upon people.

But my experience of it (and what initially attracted me to the Teaching) was that it was a simple effort to pinpoint the areas of life where we get ourselves into trouble most easily, where life is most karmically loaded; so it’s more like pointing out the danger spots and encouraging us to be careful.

The Buddha wasn’t saying that something is inherently bad or wrong, but that if we don’t develop some kind of sensitivity to these difficult areas of our lives, if we don’t look out for trouble spots and problems, it’s like driving with your eyes closed, or like driving without brakes.”

Many people who are committed to the way of awakening take on the precepts as a way to help guide them as they set out on their journey to having a more wholesome and beneficial life.
The precepts are simple. If you want to live an awakened life:

Please, please don’t kill
Please, please don’t steal
Please, please don’t abuse sex
Please, please don’t lie
Please, please don’t take anything that will dull or fog up your mind

The precepts are not rules or commandments but can be seen as principles of training.
The Thai Monk Thanissaro Bhikkhu had this to say about Sila (ethical training),

“When our actions don’t measure up to certain standards of behaviour, we either
(1) regret the actions or (2) engage in one of two kinds of denial, either (a) denying that our actions did in fact happen or (b) denying that the standards of measurement are really valid.

These reactions are like wounds in the mind. Regret is an open wound, tender to the touch, while denial is like hardened, twisted scar tissue around a tender spot.

When the mind is wounded in these ways, it can’t settle down comfortably in the present, for it finds itself resting on raw, exposed flesh or calcified knots. Even when it’s forced to stay in the present, it’s there only in a tensed, contorted and partial way, and so the insights it gains tend to be contorted and partial as well.

Only if the mind is free of wounds and scars can it be expected to settle down comfortably and freely in the present, and to give rise to undistorted discernment.

This is where the five precepts come in: They are designed to heal these wounds and scars.

Healthy self-esteem comes from living up to a set of standards that are practical, clear-cut, humane, and worthy of respect; the five precepts are formulated in such a way that they provide just such a set of standards.”

Ananda the Buddha’s cousin and attendant for his whole life once asked him, “What, O Venerable One, is the reward and blessing of wholesome morality (sila)?
The Buddha replied, “Freedom from remorse, Ananda.
But that wasn’t all, having a solid foundation of Sila in your life would not only make you free from remorse, it would lead to joy, rapture, contentment, true authentic happiness, and then finally Samadhi and Wisdom. We started with Sila and ended up with Samadhi and Wisdom.
Ethics is an Inner Practice
Nick Seaver Co-Founder and Board Member of the Community Mindfulness Project, went through a profound transformation as he and his wife embarked on a journey of awakening that had them both do extended retreats separately for long periods of time.

“Ethics is inner practice, and, magically, this practice acts like a balm. It soothes the mind. You’re still more or less crazy, but it’s a few degrees easier to practice now. In fact, the first of the three steps towards a successful practice – before you even hit the meditation cushion – is sila, ethics. Not ethics because someone said you should. Ethics because living by ethical intention sets the condition that allows the cultivation of an exceptionally stable mind which can then be turned, like an electron microsope, inward.”

The Five Blessings of Those Who Live a Virtuous and Awakened Life
The Buddha said that there are five blessings that build up for lay practitioners who live virtuous and awakened lives,

“Five blessings, householders, accrue to the righteous person through their practice of virtue:

1) great increase of wealth through their diligence
2) a favorable reputation
3) a confident demeanor, without timidity, in every society, be it that of nobles, brahmans, householders, or ascetics
4) a serene death
5) and, at the breaking up of the body after death, rebirth in a happy state, in a heavenly world.”

— DN 16 Maha-parinibbana Sutta: Last Days of the Buddha

We need Sila. We need to come back to living noble, upright, virtuous and awakened lives. The precepts help us along the way toward our goal of full complete awakening for the benefit of all beings. They help us to stop creating suffering in our lives and generating Karma that will hinder us in our progress. They free us from remorse and help us sleep easy at night which then helps our turbulent minds begin to stop raging because we know that we are doing our best to live an awakened life.
THE FIVE PRECEPTS
The precepts are simple. If you want to live an awakened life:

Please, please don’t kill
Please, please don’t steal
Please, please don’t abuse sex
Please, please don’t lie
Please, please don’t take anything that will dull or fog up your mind

The precepts are not rules or commandments but can be seen as principles of training.

Tradition Version of the Precepts

I vow to abstain from taking life.
I vow to abstain from taking things not given.
I vow to abstain from misconduct done in lust.
I vow to abstain from lying.
I vow to abstain from intoxicants taken to induce heedlessness.

MODERN PRECEPTS

(To be said and practiced daily)

I undertake the training to abstain from taking life and I am committed to cultivating the insight of interbeing and compassion.
Just for today I will have reverence for life. I will do my best to be mindful of those moments where my mind may be swayed toward violence, dualistic thinking and seeing the world and other people as separate from me. I will cultivate openness, non-attachment and see my interconnectedness to all that is. I will be a healing balm to others, a helpful friend and do my best to abstain from harmful activities especially those that take life.

I undertake the training to abstain from taking things not given and I am committed to practicing generosity in my thoughts, words, and deeds.
Just for today I will be generous, giving and open in all that I do. I will trust that all I need will be given to me. I will remember that true authentic happiness cannot be found external to me. I will be vigilant in my efforts to not be wasteful, to not use resources beyond my needs and to see and know that consumption must be joined with compassionate wisdom. I will be mindful of those moments when I’m overcome with craving and selfishness and do my best to refrain from taking what is not given.

I undertake the training to abstain from unskillful behaviour done in lust and I am committed to cultivating responsibility and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society and to do what I can to foster togetherness and meaningful connections.
Just for today I will be still, live simply and find contentment in every moment. I will cherish and build meaningful connections with everyone I meet. I will strive to protect all people and use my energy wisely to help people heal, grow and awaken. I will be mindful of those times when I may be overcome by the energy of lustful desire and neurotic craving which may lead me to harm others and myself and I will avoid following through with any thoughts, words and deeds that may be fueled with that energy. Instead I will use my energy to be a benefit to all beings.

I undertake the training to abstain from lying and I am committed to cultivating loving speech and compassionate listening toward others and myself.
Just for today I will use words that are truthful, kind, beneficial, endearing and agreeable to others. I will speak words worth treasuring, seasonable, reasonable, and connected with the goal of Dharma and awakening. I will speak words that are soothing to the ear, that are affectionate, that go to the heart, that are polite, appealing and pleasing to people at large, reconciling those who have broken apart or cementing those who are united. I will be silent when I need to be. I will be aware of and avoid idle chatter, abusive speech and saying things that are untruthful or that make me appear greater than I am.

I undertake the training to abstain from intoxicants taken to induce heedlessness and I am committed to cultivating good health, both physically, emotionally and mentally, for myself, my family, and my society.
Just for today I will rest in the radiance of my calm and clear mind. I will awaken from moment to moment. I will be mindful of those things that I read, watch and consume so as to not be swayed into heedless behaviour that may cause harm to myself and others due to being lost in a clouded mind.

Categories
Buddhism

Going for Refuge

GOING FOR REFUGE
Going for refuge and taking the precepts is the cornerstone of all the Buddhist paths. It usually becomes a turning point in a person’s life. One where they work toward an ideal – this ideal being shown to us through

  • The Buddha – a human being that showed us the actualization of minds potential
  • The Dharma – the teachings that guide us there
  • and the Sangha – our friends that help us on the way.

Going for refuge and taking the precepts are an active and conscious act – a choice by us where we consciously make the decision to start to really show up in the world as a blessing and minimize the ways we burden others and the world.
To help us do that we use as guiding lights or ideals the Triple Gems of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.
The Buddha walked around a lot.
He would go around from city, to village, to town – all over the countryside, making known the Dharma or truth that he had discovered.
He spoke form his heart.
He had an uncanny knack of truly being able to see people clearly. He would pierce through all the walls that we throw up to protect ourselves and would be able to see and know our hopes and fears, our biases, our pain and then he would speak directly to you.
The Dharma would emerge in the moment. The Buddha would speak from the depths of his spiritual experience and would connect that to you in a way that would leave most people he encountered speechless.
It was a heart-mind transmission.
The Master Sangharakshita put it this way,

The Buddha would speak from the depths of his spiritual experience. He would expound the Truth and show the Way leading to Enlightenment, and the person to whom he was speaking would be absolutely astounded and overwhelmed. In some cases he might not be able to speak or do more than stammer a few incoherent words. Something had been revealed to him. Something had burst upon him that was above and beyond his ordinary understanding. For an instant, at least, he had glimpsed the Truth, and the experience had staggered him.

And then in response to that Heart-Mind transmission the individual would go for refuge to the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.
The Meaning of Refuge: The root meaning of refuge is – “shelter or protection from danger or distress, hiding place or to flee back to,” It also means “To seek asylum.” The word asylum refers to “a place of refuge, a sanctuary” and it’s interesting to note that the word asylum is Latin for “sanctuary” taken from the Greek asylon which means “refuge, fenced territory,” and if used as a (asylos) means “inviolable, safe from violence,”
What is it that we need to take refuge from? Samsara. From the world that is lost in the great forgetting. And even from ourselves. We take refuge from the three poisons of greed, hatred and delusion.
In this topsy turvy world we need something stable to rely on. We need something that we can point to and say,”That over there, that’s safe.” We need a safe harbour.
And we need to realize that we need it.
In Buddhism that safe place is the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.

The Buddha: was a human that showed us our true potential
The Dharma: are the teachings shared by the Buddha and realized teachers that help us guide us to awakening
The Sangha: helpful friends that support us on the way

Sangharakshita on the Three Jewels
Sangharakshita said that,

The Buddha: When we go for Refuge to the Buddha it’s as though we say, “That is what I want to be. That is what I want to attain. I want to be Enlightened and develop the fullness of Wisdom and Compassion.” Going for Refuge to the Buddha means taking the Buddha – taking Buddhahood – as our personal spiritual ideal, as something we ourselves can and want to achieve.

The Dharma: The Dharma is not to be identified with this or that particular teaching. According to the Buddha’s own express declaration the Dharma is whatever contributes to the spiritual development of the individual. When his maternal aunt and foster mother, Gotami, asked him for a criterion by means of which she could distinguish between what was his teaching, his Dharma-Vinaya, and what was not, he replied,

“As for the teachings that promote the qualities of which you may know, these qualities lead to
dispassion, not to passion;
to being unfettered, not to being fettered;
to simplifying, not to accumulating;
to modesty, not to self-aggrandizement;
to contentment, not to discontent;
to seclusion, not to entanglement;
to aroused persistence, not to laziness;
to being unburdensome, not to being burdensome.
You may definitely hold, ‘This is the Dharma, this is the Vinaya, this is the Teacher’s instruction.’”
[AN VIII.53]

So we see that the Dharma are teachings that will eventually lead to: Equanimity, Freedom, Simplicity, Modesty, Contentment, Release, Persistence and Helpfulness

When we go for Refuge to the Dharma we commit ourselves to the path of higher evolution. We commit ourselves to whatever helps us to develop spiritually – to whatever helps us to grow towards Enlightenment.

The Sangha: Sangha means ‘Spiritual Community’. Primarily this is the community of all those who are spiritually more advanced than we are: the great Bodhisattvas, the Arhants, the Stream Entrants, and so on. Together they form the Aryasangha, the ‘noble Sangha’, the Spiritual Community in the highest sense.

Secondarily, it is the community of all Buddhists, all those who go for Refuge to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.

In the case of the Aryasangha, Going for Refuge to the Sangha means opening ourselves to the spiritual influence of the sublime beings of whom it consists. It means learning from them, being inspired by them, reverencing them.

In the case of the Sangha in the more ordinary sense, that of the community of all Buddhists, it means enjoying spiritual fellowship with one another and helping one another on the path.

Sometimes you may not need a highly advanced Bodhisattva to help you. All you need is an ordinary human being who is a little more developed spiritually than you are, or even just a little more sensible.

Only too often people are on the lookout for a great, highly developed guru, but that is not what they really need, even if such a person was available. What they need is a helping hand where they are now, on the particular stage of the path which at present they occupy, and this kind of help can generally be given by an ordinary fellow Buddhist.

Four Foundational Factors of Freedom
In the Raja Sutra the Buddha shared four foundational factors that lead to freedom when we’re starting out on the path.

There is the case where the disciple of the noble ones is endowed with firm confidence in the Awakened One – The Buddha:
They think to themselves, “Indeed, the Blessed One is worthy and rightly self-awakened, endowed with understanding and conduct, well-gone, an expert with regard to the world, unexcelled as a trainer for those people fit to be tamed, the Teacher of divine and human beings, awakened, blessed.”

There is the case where the disciple of the noble ones is endowed with firm confidence in the Dharma:
They think to themselves, “The Dharma is well-expounded by the Blessed One, to be seen here and now, timeless, inviting verification, pertinent, to be realized by the wise for themselves.”

There is the case where the disciple of the noble ones is endowed with firm confidence in the Sangha:
They think to themselves, “The Sangha of the Blessed One’s disciples who have practiced well…who have practiced straight-forwardly…who have practiced methodically…who have practiced masterfully — they are the Sangha of the Blessed One’s disciples: worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of respect, the incomparable field of merit for the world.”

There is the case where the disciple of the noble ones is endowed with firm conviction in the subduing of unwholesome states and the development of a wealth of virtue:
They think to themselves, “I am working diligently at the subduing of unwholesome states and the development of a wealth of virtue. My thoughts, words and deeds are agreeable to the noble ones. Whatever virtue there is, it is unbroken, faultless, unspotted, unblemished, productive of freedom, well-obtained, well-undertaken and praised by the wise.”

Faith & Going for Refuge
Faith Meaning: Great trust or confidence in something or someone
In Pali (the original language of the Buddhist texts) the word for faith is saddha. While sometimes translated as “confidence” or “trust,” the literal meaning of saddha is “to place your heart upon.”

Our hearts are squishy, tender and vital to our survival. To entrust it to someone or something means that we know and have faith that it will be kept safe. That it will be protected from harm.

When we place our heart upon the Three Jewels we entrust them with our most important treasure. We give it over knowing well that we have found a safe and secure place for our fragile and tender heart. A place that will protect us. That will guide us. That will show us how to take care of this delicate and essential piece of ourselves.

We look at the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha and say, “I see that you are wiser than me, stronger than me, further along than me. I see how you live, how you speak and how you think. I’ve felt the power of potential and possibility emanating and radiating from you and I want that for myself.

I, as I am right now cannot be trusted with this precious heart. Sentient beings lost in samsara cannot be trusted with this precious heart. This world lost in greed, hatred and delusion cannot be trusted with this precious heart.

But in the midst of all that madness I have found you – Buddha, Dharma and Sangha – a safe harbour from the storms of samsara.

So please, keep this tender and precious heart of mine safe and show me how to heal it, how to nurture it and how to unlock its radiant lustre and power so that it may be a shining light for others as you have been for me.

Sharon Salzberg shared a story from a Pali Sutra to help explain faith in the Buddhist tradition:

We experience faith on many levels. In a classical text entitled “The Questions of King Milinda,” a monk named Nagasena uses an allegory to illustrate this. A group of people gathered on the edge of a flooding stream want to go to the far shore but are afraid. They don’t know what to do until one wise person comes along, assesses the situation, takes a running leap and jumps to the other side. Seeing the example of that person, the others say, “Yes, it can be done.” Then they also jump.

In this story the near shore is our usual confused condition, and the far shore is the awakened mind. Inspired by witnessing another, we say, “Yes, it can be done.” That is one level of faith. After we have jumped ourselves, when we say, “Yes, it can be done,” that is quite another level of faith.

Patrul Rinpoche said that, “Just as taking refuge opens the gateway to all teachings and practices, it is faith that opens the gateway to taking refuge. As the first step in taking refuge, therefore, it is important to develop a lasting and stable faith. “
The Four Kinds of Faith *
Faith itself is of four kinds: bright faith, eager faith, confident faith, grateful faith
Bright Faith: Bright faith is the faith that is inspired in us by thinking of the immense compassion of the Buddhas and great teachers. We might experience this kind of faith on visiting a temple containing many representations of the Buddha’s’ body, speech and mind, or after an encounter with a great teacher or spiritual friend we have just met personally or whose qualities or life-story we have heard described.
This type of faith opens us up briefly and changes something in us. It gives us a flash of insight or softens our heart for a moment. It stirs within us a longing – a desire to discover a potential that we can now feel within us. This type of faith is not stable and does not last.
Eager Faith: Eager faith is our eagerness to be free of suffering and to experience happiness. Our eagerness to engage in positive actions when we hear and actually see what benefits they bring to ourselves and others; and our eagerness to avoid negative actions when we understand what harm they cause to ourselves and others.
Confident Faith (Mature Faith): Confident Faith or mature faith arises in us after we’ve seen the actual effects of practicing the dharma in our own very lives. We’ve tasted the chocolate. We’ve seen some results. This type of faith is anchored by or own experience. It’s rooted in our own hard-won insights on and off the cushion. is anchored in our own experience of the truth, centered in the deeper understanding of the nature of the mind and body that we come to in meditation practice.
Confident faith is the faith in the Three Jewels that arises from the depth of our hearts once we understand their extraordinary qualities and the power of their blessings.
Grateful Faith: This is the faith and reverence that arises when we think of all that the Buddha’s Bodhisattvas, masters and teachers of the past, present and future have given to us. All they have sacrificed for us. We now really see and know that the only true safe-harbour is the Three Jewels. If we have a teacher we help them with a humble and grateful heart knowing how rare and precious they are. We hold dear to us our new family – the sangha. And we cherish all the 84,000 different teachings seeing how they’re all special and different types of medicine for the many afflictions that arise for countless sentient beings.
In the book “The Words of My Perfect Teacher” Patrul Rinpoche said that,

“It is the total trust in the Three Jewels alone that comes from the knowledge that they are the only unfailing refuge, always and in all circumstances, whether we are happy, sad, in pain, ill, living or dead.

Faith, then, is like a seed from which everything positive can grow. If faith is absent, it is as though that seed had been burnt.”

The sutras say:

In those who lack faith
Nothing positive will grow,
Just as from a burnt seed
No green shoot will ever sprout.

Faith is the most precious of all our resources. It brings an inexhaustible supply of virtues, like a treasure. It carries us along the path to liberation like a pair of legs, and gathers up everything positive for us like a pair of arms. The compassion and blessings of the Three Jewels are inconceivable, but nevertheless their ability to reach into us depends entirely on our faith and devotion. If you have immense faith and devotion, the compassion and blessings you receive from your teacher and the Three Jewels will be equally immense.

If your faith and devotion are just moderate, the compassion and blessings that reach you will also be moderate.

If you have only a little faith and devotion, only a little compassion and blessings will reach you. If you have no faith and devotion at all, you will get absolutely nothing.

Without faith, even meeting the Buddha himself and being accepted as his disciple would be quite useless, as it was for the Buddha’s cousin, Devadatta.

It is also upon faith alone that actual realization of the absolute truth, the natural state, depends. It is said in a sutra:

“O’Sariputra, absolute truth is only realized through faith.”

As you develop a faith quite beyond the commonplace, by its power, the blessings of the teacher and of the Three Jewels will enter you. Then true realization will arise and you will see the natural state as it really is. When that happens you will feel an even more extraordinary and irreversible faith and confidence in your teacher and in the Three Jewels. In this way faith and the realization of the natural state support each other.

Padmasambhava said that, “The faith of total trust allows blessings to enter you. When the mind is free of doubt, whatever you wish can be achieved.”

Samantabhadra’s Declaration on the Power of Faith
An enthusiastic ode to faith can be found in the massive Avataṃsaka Sutra, where, to the delight of all the Buddhas, the bodhisattva Samantabhadra proclaims the following verses in a great outpouring of a bodhisattvas’ faith:

Deep faith, belief, and resolution always pure,
Bodhisattvas honour and respect all Buddhas …

Deeply believing in the Buddha and the Buddha’s teaching,
They also believe in the Way traversed by buddhas-to-be,
And believe in unexcelled great enlightenment:
Thereby do bodhisattvas first rouse their will.

Faith is the basis of the Path, the mother of virtues,
Nourishing and growing all good ways,
Cutting away the net of doubt, freeing from the torrent of passion,
Revealing the unsurpassed road of ultimate peace.

When faith is undefiled, the mind is pure;
Obliterating pride, it is the root of reverence,
And the foremost wealth in the treasury of teachings …

Faith is generous …
Faith can joyfully enter the Buddha’s teaching;
Faith can increase knowledge and virtue;
Faith can ensure arrival at enlightenment …
Faith can go beyond the pathways of demons,
And reveal the unsurpassed road of liberation.

Faith is the unspoiled seed of virtue,
Faith can grow the seed of enlightenment.
Faith can increase supreme knowledge,
Faith can reveal all Buddhas …
Faith is most powerful, very difficult to have;
It’s likened in all the worlds to having
the wondrous wish-fulfilling pearl.

Three Different Types of Motivation in Going for Refuge *
There are three different levels of motivation for taking refuge with this sort of faith.

The Motivation of Fear & Happiness
There are those beings who fear the suffering of the three lower-realms (animal, hungry ghost, hell) and take refuge with the hope to be reborn in one of the three higher realms (heavenly, demi-god, human)

The Motivation of Personal Happiness and Freedom
There are those that have the knowledge that it doesn’t matter which realm they are born into all of them are still part of samsara which means there’s no freedom from suffering so that motivates them to take refuge with the aim of personal nirvana and to be free from all of samsara’s sufferings.

The Motivation of an Open Heart
Seeing how all beings are lost in the great forgetting, whipped by the winds of karma, lost in the ocean of samsara and undergoing an unimaginable variety of torments motivates them to take refuge with the idea of establishing all sentient beings in the unsurpassable and omniscient state of perfect and complete Buddhahood.

Different Layers/Types of Refuge *

  • One takes refuge in the Buddha as the teacher, in the Dharma as the path, and in the Sangha as companions along the way.
  • One takes refuge by offering body, speech and mind to the teacher, and asks for help and support from the Bodhisattva’s and spiritual beings from the lineages
  • One takes refuge in the rapid path whereby one uses the channels as the nirrnanakaya, trains the energies as the sambhogakaya and purifies the essences as the dharmakaya.
  • The ultimate and infallible refuge in the indestructible natural state is based on the primal wisdom inherent in the refuge.That wisdom’s essential nature is emptiness;
    its natural expression is clarity;
    and its compassion is all-pervasive.Taking refuge here means to realize in one’s own mindstream, with total confidence, the great inseparability of these three aspects of primal wisdom.

Going for Refuge – Seeing a New Possibility
As we prepare to go for refuge we may have discovered that something has shifted in us. That we’ve begun to see the fleeting changing nature of samsara – everything changes and nothing stays the same aside from the clear light nature of Mind – but we’ve also discovered another aspect of impermanence – that because all things change that means that we too can change. That anyone can change. That each and every one of us has the potential to be a true blessing to the world.
You can start to see the possibility for all of humanity to awaken because you’ve experienced it firsthand in your own life.

As you grown in wisdom, peace and compassion
Then your home begins to be filled with that energy
As your home is infused with awakening – so will your family be influenced by that power
When the family is wise, peaceful and compassionate then the community changes
As the community becomes wise, peaceful and compassionate then the country changes
As the country becomes wise, peaceful and compassionate then the world changes
So as you grow into your own inherent potential you are actually growing the whole world

Sangharakshita said,

This is what you see when your Dharma eye opens. You see not only the fact of impermanence, the fact that everything changes, but also the possibility of human growth and development, the possibility of the transformation of ordinary humanity into Enlightened humanity or Buddhahood.

When that kind of Insight is developed, and your Dharma eye opens, something tremendous happens. To use another traditional Buddhist image, you ‘enter the stream’ – the stream that leads directly to nirvana. Your whole being now flows irreversibly in the direction of Enlightenment. This is the ‘real’ Going for Refuge, the ‘Transcendental’ Going for Refuge’.

 

  • (Slightly Adapted from the Words of my Perfect Teacher by Patrul Rinpoche)
Categories
Buddhism

Mudita Dharma Talk

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Mudita – Connected Vicarious Appreciative Sympathetic Joy
This is the sixth talk of the Awakened Heart Series and this talk looks at the Compassion (Karuna)
https://zenawakened.com/awakened-heart/
The Third Element of True Love
The third element of true love is connected joy (mudita) and has the wish of seeing all beings flourishing and celebrating when they do
Mudita is a pure joy unadulterated by self-interest.
Mudita is About:

  • Connecting with others
  • Wishing well for others
  • The hope that others succeed (even if you’re not)
  • The forgetting of yourself
  • The ability to stop comparing or judging the worthiness of the other person
  • To be able to put yourself in their shoes so that you can understand:
    • Their perspective and point of view
    • Their struggles
    • Their joys and how those feel

Their wins become your wins.
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(Dana) Giving: The practice of giving is universally recognized as one of the most basic human virtues, a quality that testifies to the depth of one’s humanity and one’s capacity for self-transcendence. In the teaching of the Buddha, too, the practice of giving claims a place of special eminence, one which singles it out as being in a sense the foundation and seed of spiritual development.
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Buddhism

Compassion (Karuna) Dharma Talk

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Video of the Compassion Dharma Talk
This is the sixth talk of the Awakened Heart Series and this talk looks at the Compassion (Karuna)
https://zenawakened.com/awakened-heart/
The Second Element of True Love
The second element of true love is compassion, (karuna) and has the wish that all beings are free of suffering and the action of small moments of true connection, true seeing and reaching out in some way to help alleviate the pain and hurts of others.
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(Dana) Giving: The practice of giving is universally recognized as one of the most basic human virtues, a quality that testifies to the depth of one’s humanity and one’s capacity for self-transcendence. In the teaching of the Buddha, too, the practice of giving claims a place of special eminence, one which singles it out as being in a sense the foundation and seed of spiritual development.
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Buddhism

Metta (Loving-Kindness) Dharma Talk

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Video of the Loving-Kindness Dharma Talk
This is the fifth talk of the Awakened Heart Series and this talk looks at the Metta (Loving-Kindness)
https://zenawakened.com/awakened-heart/
The First Element of True Love
The first element of true love is maitri or metta, which can be translated as lovingkindness or friendliness and has the wish that all beings are happy and the action of small kindnesses and moments of connection to help bring happiness to others.
“Love is not a feeling – it’s an ability.” Dan in Real Life Movie
“If love is an ability – then it’s our responsibility.” Sharon Salzberg
Love: It’s a power, an ability, a skill we can cultivate, that we can grow, that we can share – with others and ourselves.
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(Dana) Giving: The practice of giving is universally recognized as one of the most basic human virtues, a quality that testifies to the depth of one’s humanity and one’s capacity for self-transcendence. In the teaching of the Buddha, too, the practice of giving claims a place of special eminence, one which singles it out as being in a sense the foundation and seed of spiritual development.
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Buddhism

The Four Thoughts Which Turn the Mind

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Video of the The Four Thoughts Dharma Talk
This is the fourth talk of the Awakened Heart Series and this talk looks at the Four Thoughts Which Turn the Mind Toward Freedom https://zenawakened.com/awakened-heart/
The Four Thoughts Which Turn the Mind Toward Freedom
We settle ourselves into the noble and majestic meditative posture and gently rest our awareness on the tactile sensations of the breath as it flows soothingly through the body. We let thoughts and feelings pass without judgment. We calmly abide in this natural state.
Then we focus on the four basic thoughts, which turn the mind towards liberation and enlightenment:

Precious Human Birth
I recognize the preciousness of acquiring this human life and the opportunity that is now before me; that I can benefit countless beings through the methods of the Awakened Ones. Few people ever reach the teachings of the Dharma and even fewer are able to use them.

Impermanence
I remember the impermanence of everything composite. Nothing remains forever. Only the unlimited clear space of mind is lasting and it is uncertain how long conditions will remain for recognizing it. The days and nights are stealing away my life. Tomorrow is not promised. Death may come at any time.

Karma
I understand causality. That it is up to me what will happen. Former thoughts, words and actions became my present state and right now I am sowing the seeds for my future.

Potentiality
Finally, I see the reasons for working with mind. Enlightenment is timeless highest bliss, and I cannot benefit others while confused or disturbed myself. Therefore I now open up to those who can teach me.

If we appreciate the opportunities that we have now with this precious human life and if we recognize and acknowledge the fact that this life is not going to last and that we are going to die sometime, if we recognize that our behavior is going to shape our experience in this life and also after we die in future lives, and if we realize that no matter what we experience in the future, because it will arise from behaving from confusion, will have a lot of difficulties and troubles, then we will turn our minds to the Dharma. ~ Dr. Alexander Berzin on the Four Thoughts

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(Dana) Giving: The practice of giving is universally recognized as one of the most basic human virtues, a quality that testifies to the depth of one’s humanity and one’s capacity for self-transcendence. In the teaching of the Buddha, too, the practice of giving claims a place of special eminence, one which singles it out as being in a sense the foundation and seed of spiritual development.
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Categories
Buddhism

Intro to the Four Immeasurables Dharma Talk

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Video of the Four Immeasurables Dharma Talk
We now start the new Awakened Heart Series of talks. These talks will gently guide us to open up and heal that tender heart of ours. We will be working toward the discovery of the Buddha’s Four Immeasurables or the Four Elements of True Love.
A first step though is to stop and to rest. So in the Dharma talk and meditation session we will look into the Meditative Practice of Calm Abiding.
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(Dana) Giving: The practice of giving is universally recognized as one of the most basic human virtues, a quality that testifies to the depth of one’s humanity and one’s capacity for self-transcendence. In the teaching of the Buddha, too, the practice of giving claims a place of special eminence, one which singles it out as being in a sense the foundation and seed of spiritual development.
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Categories
Buddhism

Right Samadhi Dharma Talk

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Video of the Right Samadhi Dharma Talk
RIGHT SAMADHI (samyak-samadhi)
At long last we finally come to the eighth stage or limb of the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path. Here once again we come across the gnarly issues that translators face in their work.
For the most part Samadhi is usually translated as concentration but this totally misses the mark. Samadhi is a hard concept to pin down for most people. It’s slippery and illusive. Abstract and profound. Not easily conveyed.
This is an introductory talk on Right Mindfulness from the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path. For a full explanation of the path be sure to checkout: https://zenawakened.com/eightfold-path/
Live Stream
We Live Stream the weekly Dharma Talks over on facebook so join The Awakened Community so that you’re instantly notified of the next time we’re live.
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→ Click here to give
(Dana) Giving: The practice of giving is universally recognized as one of the most basic human virtues, a quality that testifies to the depth of one’s humanity and one’s capacity for self-transcendence. In the teaching of the Buddha, too, the practice of giving claims a place of special eminence, one which singles it out as being in a sense the foundation and seed of spiritual development.
→ Click here to give
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