passage from article:When I did open to everything, there was no opposition — there was no enemy. I didn’t have to struggle with experience. At the same time, there was no truth, no state of perfection, no ideal, no final achievement. Again, years later, in a conversation with another teacher about this experience, he said, “Don’t worry about truth. Just develop devotion so strongly that thinking stops, and rest right there.”
passage from article: The most effective effort is to listen to ourselves as we are talking. This effort brings attention to our speech. When we do this, we will hear when what we say doesn’t fit the situation, when it isn’t what we intended to say, or how we intended to say it. We will hear, with our own ears, the different emotional patterns that take over our speech. We will hear how what we say doesn’t fit with our intention, how it comes out of our confusion, how it doesn’t quite fit with the situation. And as we make this effort over and over again, we will find that we begin to speak with attention in exactly the same way that we come to breath with attention in our meditation.
passage from article: The principle is as simple as it is counter-intuitive: take the pain of others and give our own happiness in exchange. Suicide?! Ironically, it cuts through, wears away, and undermines the four levels of confusion. Conditioned behavior and perceptions are radically altered through an appreciation of what we have and what we can give to others. Emotional turbulence is reduced as we find ourselves capable of being present non-reactively with pain and unpleasantness. Dualistic thinking is derailed and we find ourselves simply present with others. And, strangest of all, we find our understanding of mind becoming clearer and clearer.
passage from article: Time and time again, we are told that we are buddha, that the buddha qualities are present now, but that we just don’t know it. The problem, for many of us, is that this knowing is not a form of knowing that we are used to.
passage from article:When I look back on my first years of Buddhist practice, let’s say the first ten to twelve years, my practice was essentially a reaction to suffering. Most of the time I didn’t know what I was reacting to. I put a great deal of effort into practice, into study, into serving my teacher. I learned a great deal. But it didn’t ease anything inside me.
passage from article: Compassion is the difference between a faith that opens you to what life brings and beliefs that force you to close down to protect what you cannot or will not question.
passage from article: Fear is a reactive mechanism that operates when our identity (including the identity of being a physical entity) is threatened. It works to erode or dissipate attention. We move into one of the six realms and react: destroy the threat or seek revenge (hell being), grasp at safety and security (hungry ghost), focus on survival (animal), pursue pleasure as compensation (human), vie for superiority (titan), or protect status and position (god). Because we are less present to what is actually taking place, our actions are correspondingly less appropriate and less effective. We go to sleep in our beliefs and ignore the consequences of maintaining them.
passage from article: …The comparison reveals where your habituated tendencies have been reinforced by your work environment and are pulling you out of balance. Now you know where to start. As your priorities change, you will spend time in areas you neglected and shift responsibility for things you used to do to others. People around you will react in different ways: those for whom your old ways were convenient will resist the changes, while others will welcome them. You will, inevitably, see more clearly how your work environment systemically reinforces reactivity in you and in others.
passage from article: A student asked Dezhung Rinpoche about visualization practice and deity meditation. Dezhung Rinpoche closed his eyes, scrunched his forehead, bobbed his head up and down as if he were concentrating very hard and said, “You visualize the head of the deity, then you visualize all those arms, then you visualize the implements, then the palace, then you try to see the whole deity clearly, but you lose one part, so you go back to visualize that… And it’s all gone. You start again, and the same thing happens, again, and again.” Then he opened his eyes wide, looked right at the student, smiled, and said, “And then you have a headache!”
passage from article: Karma describes the way actions grow into experience… Every action either starts a new growth process or reinforces an old one as described by the four results. Small wonder that we place so much emphasis on mindfulness and attention. What we do in each moment is very important!
passage from article: Take a simple behavioral pattern such as starting something before we finish what we are currently doing… Once in place, such patterns permeate our lives. We repeat the same dynamic over and over again. We are complete automatons. We may appear to be as graceful and delicate as a fern, but it’s pattern, all the way down.
passage from article: Karma as instruction, however, is a different story… Karma as instruction means to observe our actions and appreciate how consequential each action is in reinforcing or dismantling an habituated pattern.
passage from article: One of the primary characteristics of learned helplessness is that the person feels passive with respect to the system. The passivity, however, is only half the story… Can learned helplessness be undone? The answer is “Yes.” The cost, however, is high.
passage from article: Meditation is not a quick cure-all. We are used to quick fixes: ten ways to better communication, the five magic steps for better relationships, the eight things every manager should know, etc. The trouble is that all of this good advice is useless if we aren’t sufficiently present to implement it. Meditation cultivates just that presence, so we could regard it as a foundational skill.
passage from article: From the Buddhist point of view the mind-body system with which we identify has the seed of attention within it already. We simply provide conditions for sustained active attention to develop. The practice of meditation is the practice of providing those conditions. This is how we cultivate attention, just as we would a plant or tree.
passage from article: Increasingly, money has become the only medium for exchange between people in our culture. The human part of us resists this as we feel that there is more than simply financial value in our interactions. But money is now used to determine the value of time, the value of any material article, the value of culture, the value of social programs, etc. It is this seeming willingness to measure every aspect of life in money that indicates the true extent to which we have engaged this collective thought.
passage from article: This is the final step in letting go of any attempt to categorize our experience. The experience which comes out of this is non-thought. Out of this comes a confidence of possibilities within ourselves. We are increasingly able to act without second thoughts and do what is appropriate. In other words, we come to know the stillness of the mind that no longer depends solely on conceptual processes to formulate responses to the world of experience.
description: Overview of ceremony and translations of the Vow of Refuge from the Tibetan, Mahamudra, and Dzogchen traditions in Buddhism as well as other variations.
passage from article: Imbalance in a relationship, whatever the basis of the relationship, inevitably leads to lack of respect on one side and resentment on the other. Relationships can and do endure periods of imbalance. Sooner or later, however, the imbalance must be addressed if the relationship is to continue.
passage from article: Lineage is not the passing on of “The Truth” from one generation to another. It is the passing on of the methods, the tools, with which you uncover and live this natural knowing.
passage from article: The teacher-student relationship is based on a shared aim — your awakening to the mystery of being. It is not based on mutual profit or on emotional connection.
passage from article: The final challenge of habituated patterns is to question direct experience. How do we know? How can we trust this knowing, which is totally beyond the ordinary conditioned experience of life? Like Buddha Shakyamuni, we turn to no external reference and live in the knowing. We rest in presence, in the very mystery of being itself.
passage from article: How, for instance, do we practice right speech? Right speech does not mean saying “the right thing.” Ideas about the “right” thing usually come from conditioning… To cultivate right speech, listen as you talk so that you hear, with your own ears, exactly what you say and how you say it.
passage from article: This greed for results, for something dramatic, undermines our practice completely. The effects of meditation are subtle and take time to mature. When we are constantly looking for some kind of sign or attainment from our practice, we are essentially looking outside ourselves.
passage from article: Finally, we come to the training in natural presence… Many people approach this naively, feeling that a drastic simplification of their life will be sufficient (adoption of a monastic life, living simply in nature, stepping off the fast track, etc.), but we usually bring our baggage with us when we make these moves. The first effort here is to rid ourselves of accumulations from the past… The second effort is to let go of the future. …
passage from article : When you practice Buddhism, you are taking refuge. Whether you formalize your commitment in the vow ceremony is your choice. Many people find that taking the vow strengthens their motivation and practice.
passage from article: Deep questions about values and ethics arise around the issues of abortion, life support, and elective suicide for those with debilitating and terminal illnesses. In these and other circumstances, call up compassion so that you see clearly, go empty in all the complexities so you know what is, and in that knowing act without hesitation.
passage from article: As we cut through our confusion over and over again, returning to the breath, we find that a whole realm of experience begins to open up to us: thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, sounds, images, memories. Our conditioned tendency is to regard some of these as good and some as bad. Through power, we have established a place for our attention to rest. Now we make an effort in ecstasy…
passage from article: Freedom is not a state; it is a process. It is something you are, not something you have. In freedom, there is a continual releasing of reactive material as it arises in each moment of experience.
passage from article: Willingness means to let go of conventional concerns over happiness, wealth, status, and reputation, the agendas of life in society. As long as you limit your experience to what fits into the world of society, you will explore your spiritual potential only to the extent that it doesn’t impinge on your life in society.
passage from article: The aim of Buddhist practice is to end suffering. A refuge is a place where one goes to be free from harm, fear, and suffering. In Buddhism, refuge is a metaphor for wakefulness or presence. It is reminder of the basic orientation in Buddhist practice, namely, that suffering comes to end only through being awake and present.
passage from article: Many problems in meditation practice come from confusion about what we think should happen, what we want to happen, and what actually happens. One way to clear up this confusion is to be clear about the purpose, method, effects and results of meditation practice.
passage from article: Pawo Tsulak Trengwa, a Kagyu teacher who was the principal scholar of his time, wrote an extensive commentary on this topic, which I studied when I was in retreat. He excoriates the view that the first root downfall means absolute obedience to the guru. He is very explicit: you have to do everything your lama tells you only as it pertains to your spiritual practice. He says that the first root downfall doesn’t apply to how you live and function in the world.
passage from article: In the initial stages of practice, we are consumed by thoughts. As we continue, we gradually are able to experience thoughts as thoughts, and not be distracted by them. To be a little technical, when the level of energy in the attention is higher than the level of energy in what you are experiencing, say, anger, or love, then you can experience the anger or love without getting lost in it. When you experience it that way, energy is transformed to a still higher level, making it possible for you to experience deeper levels of clarity and stillness, and also deeper levels of conditioning.
passage from article: Who am I? In the world of social conventions, the answer is a story. Lots of things may go into this story: interests, history, quirks, talents, achievements, background, likes, dislikes, successes and failures. And the story we tell changes according to the circumstances.
Where compassion is the wish that others not suffer, renunciation is the wish that I not suffer. What causes me to suffer? Wanting. Renunciation, then, means not so much giving up things, desires, or a way of life, but to give up desiring itself. But to do so is not so easy.