Thought of the Day: January 1, 2018

Happy New Year

We all know how many years have passed by, but how many we have to
look forward to we cannot know. Life is precious and must be guarded
and respected. The sage Sai Baba said: “Time wasted is life wasted,”
and this is all so true. Frivolous activity is like giving our life away and
must be avoided. Likewise, careless speech and idle talk and gossip are
both unwanted drains on our time.

“Living everyday as if it were our last,” is not indulging in all our
fantasies, but rather an incitement to be thoughtful and reflective, to
take stock on ourselves and our relationship with others. When we
speak with others we should respect for them time by talking
meaningfully and to the point. If we do otherwise it is like robbing
them. Avoid idle talk when it comes our way, and don’t initiate it, and
we will be rewarded for it.

May all have a bright and productive New Year, enjoy good health, and
company, and be kind and warmhearted to one another. As the saying
goes: “Man says, time passes, time says, man passes.” So, for me, my
New Year resolution is to value my time, and I hope all value theirs’s as
well, and have a meaningful and productive New Year.

                * * *

Thought of the Day: January 2, 2018

Food is an interesting topic when it comes to meditation because there
are many meditation diets. The Japanese and other Asian countries have
developed diets consisting primarily of grains, sometimes as much is
90%. In India, by contrast, I have met yogis who consider the best diet
suitable for meditation to be primarily fruit and yogurt. And of course,
many rely on a diet of a combination of fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains,
and dairy. Some meditators are pure vegetarian, some may vegan, and
some are non-vegetarian.
One thing that all meditators seem to have in common, is the penchant
to take little food, not quite enough to satisfy the appetite, but enough
to stay healthy and fit and capable of maintaining a rigorous meditation
schedule. Many eat just one meal a day at noon, especially monastics in
some Asian countries, while some eat three meals a day, but only one
main meal. It is pretty much up to each individual to decide what the
best diet is for his meditation practice, for while the Buddha ate just
once day at noon, he didn’t make it a rule that others do so, and said
little on diet. So it’s up to each of us to decide which diet is most
suitable for our constitution. We are more likely to do that if we guard
ourselves against the fine flavors, as the Buddha advises, and eating so
much that we become heavy and subject to torpor. If we guard our
mind against greed and hankering for fine flavors, we greatly increase
our judgment and our more likely to develop a meditation diet that is
suitable for us.

                     * * *

Thought Of the Day: January 3, 2018

Buddhism is known for its many rules and regulations that make correct
practice inevitably a disciplined one. That being said, we are not to allow
ourselves to be suffocated by the rules we follow. We must be aware
that rules are guidelines to serve us, not enslave us.
We should never feel rules as a restraint, except maybe at the beginning.
As our practice matures, we should keep rules without even thinking
about it, very naturally. This is a sign that we have maintained the rules
vigorously and have stepped beyond them. If we are merely following
rules, it is a sign that our practice is not maturing, and we are stuck in
rule following. So, yes keep rules, but go further than just keeping them
as if it was a duty.

               * * *




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Thought of the Day: January 3, 2018

Buddhism is known for its many rules and regulations that make correct
practice inevitably a disciplined one. That being said, we are not to allow
ourselves to be suffocated by the rules we follow. We must be aware
that rules are guidelines to serve us, not enslave us.

We should never feel rules as a restraint, except maybe at the beginning.
As our practice matures, we should keep rules without even thinking
about it, very naturally. This is a sign that we have maintained the rules
vigorously and have stepped beyond them. If we are merely following
rules, it is a sign that our practice is not maturing, and we are stuck in
rule following. So, yes keep rules, but go further than just keeping them
as if it was a duty.

                * * *
Thought of the Day: January 4, 2018
Being free to fulfill our desires is one kind of freedom, and being free
of desire is another kind. And yet another kind, is being entangled in
desires. Being entangled in desires is really a miserable state. It occurs
when desires are unfulfilled or conflict with other desires, which is
often due to greed.

A smart person will be able to fulfill his desires because he has the
resources to do so and is smart enough to know the value of wishes
that are few and therefore avoids desires conflicting with one another.
But further up the totem pole, are the meditation Masters who are
satisfied with their meditation and the happiness and joy implicit bring,
and find no equal to it in sense gratification.

Probably most of us fall in the middle, or aspire to at any rate. The way
of the sage more than likely seems out of reach, and the careless person
who is entangled in desire we certainly don’t want to imitate and if we
are in such a say we want to get out of it. And though most of us strive
for the middle way ,and this is the way it should be, if we can maintain
it long enough ,it will lead to the last stage, being free of desire.

                * * *


Many people think of monastic life as engaging in spiritual practices
such as meditation, performing rituals, and so forth, and it is to a large
extent, but monks and nuns also clean, cook, wash clothes, in addition
to other monastic activities such as, translating, distributing books, light
construction work, and so forth. It is important to realize this because
when we think of the spiritual life of a monastic we generally think of
meditation and rituals, and their other activities don’t come to mind.

It is easy to lose sight of the fact that ordinary activities are forms of
meditation if you know how to make them so. While meditation is a
good thing, as laymen we should make it a point to realize how to make
ordinary activities forms of meditation also. If we learn how to be
mindful while driving our car, shopping, cleaning our house and so
forth, these ordinary activities will act as supports for meditation. This
is exactly why monastics pay so much attention to doing ordinary
activities.

A little time each day reflecting on how we can be mindful in ordinary
routine can be accomplished by reflecting how distraction often creeps
into the simplest tasks. We’re focused on doing one thing, and
something else comes to mind and suddenly were trying to do that to
and you when something else comes to mind and we start doing that
too and suddenly were doing three things at once and none of them
very well. Or we start doing one thing and something more important
comes to mind and we forgot about what we set out to do to do
something else. If we reflect on singleness of purpose in daily activities
and try to accomplish whatever we’re doing without distraction, with
one purpose in mind, gradually we will it enjoy what our activities
because we are more focused.

Our efforts should always be to regard our active life as an extension of
our meditative life, and the closer we bring the two together the happier
we will be, because there will be less duality in our lives. So ,all of us
should strive to break down the dividing line between meditation and
our ordinary affairs.
                * * *
Thought of the Day: January 6, 2018

People like to be free, but they don’t like discipline, but it is discipline
that leads to freedom. Discipline makes freedom possible because it
curbs our attachments and desires, both of which are the causes of us
feeling bound up and yearning for ‘freedom.” Therefore, freedom is
found through discipline.

                         * * *

Thought of the Day: January 7, 2018

lives may not seem as we would wish them to be, but it may be that we
have not arranged all the aspects of our lives to fit together, and not as
we may think, that we have to introduce some new element into it. So,
work with what you got, before running off trying something new.

                        * * *
Thought of the Day: January 8, 2018

Limitations should be viewed as challenges because that is what they
are, but, unfortunately, we often don’t view them that way. Instead we
think of them as obstacles that we must live with. Instead of exploring
our obstacles in hopes of finding a new way to view them, we may
choose to resign ourselves to them and never see past them, and this is
a real pity.

A wise person once remarked to me when I was a very distraught teen:
“Everything matters, but nothing matters frightfully.” I felt burdened by
obstacles, but fortunately, through good advice and studying Buddhism,
I was able to see obstacles as a game to be played and cheerfully
engaged with them. I learned to view them less seriously and personally
and instead objectify them and interact with them. I learned to use them
as lessons life was offering me.

As adults, we tend to view walls as walls, but kids view them as
something to climb. As adults, we sometimes must learn not to take
ourselves so seriously. As we move through life we should never forget
that our obstacles are not who we are and identify with the one who is
aware of the obstacles rather than the obstacle themselves. Objectified
in this way, “everything will matter, but nothing will matter frightfully.”

                         * * *
Thought of the Day: January 9 2018

A child psychologist who was a good friend taught me an important
lesson about raising children. When my two young children were very
young she noticed that I was very lax and disciplined them very little
teens. I remarked to her that my father never disciplined the much and
I pretty much took care of myself and that I do not resent him for it.
But, my child psychologist friend, Arlette, was adamant and told me
very plainly that children interpret discipline as love and a sign that we
care about them. I never thought about it that way. But what she said
was indeed true.

So, what does all this have to do with meditation? I think it has a lot to
do with it. I think that when we discipline ourselves we feel better
because we feel like we’re loving ourselves. If we just allow ourselves to
do what we want a kind of dissatisfaction arises, a dissatisfaction with
ourselves and a dissatisfaction with life itself. It may be easy to be lazy,
but it brings very unwelcome consequences.

Meditation, study, and reflection, all require the sacrifice of our time if
we expect to get results, but spiritual endeavors are notoriously slow to
bear fruit, and our patients is our often tested to the limit. So, although
the spiritual path requires a lot of commitment to ourselves, we owe it
to ourselves to make that commitment. Devoting time to the spiritual
path and all the discipline in details reflects a love and respect for
ourselves and if we give ourselves that love and respect we are certain
going to feel better for it.

                         * * *
Thought of the Day: January 10 2018

Meditation is like a marriage and has to be kept fresh. It is easy to fault
the meditation topic for not engaging us, just as it is easy to fault one’s
partner for a marriage that has become boring. But ,we have to look
deeper because generally it isn’t the marriage partner or the meditation
topic that is at fault, but the way we are approaching a mantra or some
other form of meditation or our marriage that is the source of the
problems we are having. Meditation is not some psychedelic drugs that
transforms our mind without any effort, mantras, and visualizations,
and so forth will only give out as much as we put in. If we just recite
mantras, sitting there expecting some magic to take place, we will be
sitting a long ,long time and never receive any benefit.

                                * * *

Thought of the Day: January 11, 2018

There is no surer sign that our meditation is correct and rising from our
seat feeling a general genuine warm-heartedness towards others. Even if
this is only happens occasionally, it is a sure sign we are meditating
correctly, for the primary aim of meditation is to experience a oneness
with all living beings and dissolve ourselves in others, in other words
selflessness.

Any form of meditation that we do that does not yield a feeling of
oneness with others is off the mark, even if we are able to focus long
periods of time single-mindedly. Just as a laser beam can shoot high
into the sky, if it misses the moon, it is off the target, no matter how
straight it may be. By the same token, no matter how focused we may
be, if a sense of unity with others does not arise in our meditation we
are missing the point.

                                   * * *

Thought of the Day: January 12, 2018

All aspects of the path are equally important, and that is why a balanced
path gets results ,and a lopsided path doesn’t. One of the most common
errors, is to place emphasis on meditation at the expense of study and
reflection. Study will make the background noise of meditation a
support for it. Reflection will take us beneath the surface of our studies.
Both are important.

Reflection and study isn’t as sexy as meditation, but what is attractive
isn’t always what is good for us. So, we should stick to the path laid
forth before us and not pick and choose what we want to do and what
we don’t want to do, for, it is this very fault that is the reason that so
many people enter the path, but few arrive.

While a meditation session consisting of mantras or visualizations may
be good most of the time, we should familiarize ourselves with
analytical meditation as well. This is simply maintaining a logical and
reasoned train of thought, verbalized in our mind about something we
have read, without thinking about other things. For example, Hindus
believe that sound is permanent, whereas Buddhist assert that it isn’t,
and they have argued this for centuries and logical treatises have been
written on their debate. If we engage in analytical meditation,we may
take a topic such as these debates, or hundreds of others, and enter
them ourselves and try to maintain a logical train of thought within the
confines of the initial proposition, sound is permanent or sound is
impermanent. It is as simple as that. These are tedious exercises, but
they have been the backbone of Buddhist studies the Buddhas time and
should not be shunned.

                         * * *
Thought of the Day: January 13 2018

If we had a miraculous book that could provide an answer for anything
we ask, we would quickly find out that we don’t know how to ask the
right question. Because this is so, all answers would be unsatisfactory. If
we really look into scripture, we will find that they are more about
teaching us how to inquire rather than offering answers, because for an
answer to be meaningful, must be a response to a question rightly put,
in other words, the inquirer must be ripe and ready for the response,

meaningless to our ears have enlightened others.

There is no shortcut to understanding the nature of reality, it requires
sacrifice, discipline, good advisors, and proper inquiry. All these
ingredients must be in place, there are no shortcuts. The foregoing are
in fact the only shortcuts.

Though the journey may be long to key to enjoying it is not having any
expectations. This is best achieved by enjoying the inquiry, with all
thoughts of answers and solutions banished from one’s mind. If we can
do this, we will enjoy meditation, study, reflection, and calling on
enlightened Masters. The path is for us to walk and enjoy walking it.

                               * * *
Thought of the Day: January 14 2018

Being a good example for others is probably one of the best way to
accumulate merit on the spiritual path. A great Indian master once said,
“my life is my message.” If we can live in a way that inspires others
positively, not only they benefit, but we do as well. You may be a bigger
influence on others than we realize, and careless action on our part may
have consequences on others, whereas positive action on our part, may
inspire them to be a better person, and in such a case everyone benefits.

Sometimes we do things, thinking that it is our business and that we are
doing them for ourselves, leading our own life etc., We may look over
the fact that, like it or not, whatever we do is going to have an impact
on those around us. Therefore, we have every good reason to act in
such a way that not only benefits ourselves, but others as well.

Thought of the Day: January 15, 2018

When I meditate I keep my legs crossed, my mouth shut, and my eyes
open. I make my mind like a revolving door, whatever comes in is okay,
whatever is goes out is okay, I don’t cling to anything or reject anything,
and I don’t elaborate on any thoughts.

What I described above is something that anyone can do, it’s just a
question of doing it. Often people are intimidated by meditation for no
reason whatsoever. Perhaps it’s the pictures of the long-haired yogis and
the ascetic cave dwellers, various hermits, and so forth, that have made
meditation and the spiritual life seem so out of reach and exotic. But the
simple fact is, that the meditation is a very natural way to engage with
our mind, and it’s also very simple.

A little time each day, 5 or 10 minutes in the morning and evening, is
plenty to get started. It is more a question of consistency than anything
else. The natural state of mind tends towards meditation, so if we just
give the time to the discipline we can be taught how to meditate by our
very own mind.
                               * * *
Thought of the Day: January 16, 2018

It is easy to gain knowledge of Dharma practice and generally this
knowledge is beneficial, but the more knowledge increases, the greater
the temptation is to make a display of it, and this we want to avoid.
Another thing we have to be careful of, is equating the knowledge
acquired through study as the same as that acquired through experience.
There is a big difference between owning something, and borrowing it.

It is not necessary to study a whole lot, because it is easy to be
overwhelmed. It is far better to take what we intellectually understand
into actual experience, in other words, make it our own. Unlike other
subjects, spiritual inquiry through study and reflection is not for the
purpose of accumulating ever-increasing knowledge, but rather to help
us to learn how to walk through the practice of meditation, and
engaging in our active life in a mindful and responsible way that is
conducive and supporting of our overall spiritual aspirations.

The great master once said, because I understood one truth, I was able
to penetrate them all. This master took a single text, and studied it alone
until he attained awakening. While we may not need to go to this
extreme, the message is clear and that is that it is the quality of our
study rather than the quantity, and the quality is determined by our
ability to embrace and put into practice what we learn.

Another important point to remember is that study is really dry and
boring and it is in fact our ability to put it to work that is most
interesting. Sorry striving for knowledge should always be balanced with
our striving for experience.

                               * * *
Thought of the Day: January 17, 2018

Sometimes meditation is thought of as the stopping of thoughts. But,
while this is true in a sense, the  expression of “stopping” or “blocking”
causes the wrong kind of attitude to arise in the mind, an attitude of
fighting with thoughts or holding them down and suppressing them. A

That is what meditation is. But it’s a special kind of engagement,
wherein, we engage the mind in a single thought and keep it engaged in
that thought, focused on that single thought.

Generally, the mind engages with thoughts, plural, and because it is
diffused into many thoughts the mind becomes very weak, but when it’s
focused on a single thought, and not allowed to wander off to other
thoughts, it becomes extremely powerful. This is skillful means . We get
the mind something engaged rather than just stop all activity and when
we do this it is more likely to reveal its nature to us because the mind’s
nature it is said is not beyond a single thought of the mind. In other
words, if we really understood a single thought, we could become
enlightened. That’s what the teaching say. Meditation is within the reach
of everyone, we just need to do it.

                               * * *as


Those who criticize us and talk behind our back, unless we seek
revenge, they are actually helping us. Because spiteful people provide us
with the opportunity to be patient and tolerant if we respond correctly
we can benefit by the hurt they generate in us. But, if we allow
ourselves to be depressed and hurt and we follow impulses to get back
at them, then not only does their negativity hurt us, but we are depriving
ourselves of the opportunity to learn patience and tolerance.

Backbiting is never good whether it is deserved or not. Talking ill of
people that we believe justifies our criticism is not going to make them
any better; it’s far better to just be quiet and not waste our own mental
energy on them. If they don’t deserve criticism, it goes without saying
that we should not say anything bad about anyone that doesn’t deserve
it. It simply boils down to don’t talk behind people’s back.

When people talk behind our back, we should resist the urge to take
revenge, and instead turn that energy that wants to lash back around and
reflect whether or not the criticism is deserved or not and it is not, then
we should be patient and tolerant for this is a quality that will always be
with us and be a source of strength. And if it is deserved, if what they
are saying negative about us is true, then we should reflect on how we
might improve ourselves so we don’t deserve such criticism.

Establishing a few simple rules for ourselves on how weSeems handle
ourselves when spoken of behind our back can go a long way towards
helping us recognize our own faults as well as be patient and tolerant
with criticism.
                               * * *
Thought of the Day: January 19, 2018

The most valuable gift we can give someone is the gift of Dharma; it is
the one gift that retains its value. In fact, not only does the gift of
Dharma retain its value, but Dharma can be spread to countless people,
so it’s like an everlasting wish fulfilling gem. If we can teach a little
Dharma to one person, that one person can spread it to two or three
persons, and those two and three in turn can spread it, so that single
Dharma becomes like an inexhaustible elixir that never deteriorates and
is inexhaustible. There is no other gift that is like this.

                            * * *
Thought of the Day: January 20, 2018

I just saw a news item about Italians and how they will not drink take-
away coffee and I think this is wonderful. The fact is that for them
drinking coffee is a ritual, and I can’t agree more for many reasons. As
a culture, we are moving so fast that we are missing the intimacy that
life has to offer. If we don’t slow down and turn off for motor, the
meaningful moments of life will simply slip through our fingers.

Upon returning from Nepal, to the US for a visit about six months ago,
I saw for the first time a drive-through coffee house, and I was
shocked. Even common etiquette teaches do not walk and eat, let alone
common sense and spiritual texts. Food is to nourish both body and
mind, and while we might get there is physically eating and walking. We
miss the importance of taking food as a ritual.

In the news items I saw, the Italians mentioned that there are several
reasons that they don’t take coffee on the go. One is that it gives them
an opportunity to meet a new friend or an old friend or make a new
acquaintance, the second was, the pleasure of having a cup of coffee,
enjoying its flavor, stimulation, and so forth, the third was, the ritual of
going to the coffee house, staying a few moments in the coffee house,
and then being on their way, thus making coffee a ritual, the fourth was,
that taking a cup of coffee does not take a long time, especially for
Italians who only drink espresso.

Whether were talking about coffee or many other aspects of life it doesn’
t matter, what’s true for coffee is true for many things. We tend to
merge things together and not have a distinct idea what we’re doing.
Are we buying a pair of roller blades, or drinking coffee or eating a
sandwich? We can do all these three things at once, but probably enjoy
it as much as if we had done them focusing our attention on a single at
thing.

It’s like multi-functional machines, multitasking machines, they can do
everything, but they do everything a little less well than dedicated
machines. If we dedicate ourselves to a single task, we are sure to enjoy
it more and do a better job. So, it is for eating, we should just eat or
drink coffee, we should shop for a car, our wardrobe, a new bicycle, or
whatever, and should focus on that alone. If we are sleeping, we should
sleep, if we are watching TV, we should just watch TV, for if we try to
do both, we will do neither well.
The inclination to do many things at once is probably rooted in greed.
So if we find ourselves running about trying to do many tasks at once
and we feel frustrated and stressed, we should probably take a cue from
the Italians and their coffee drinking habits and slow down, and give
ourselves the opportunity to focus on what we are doing and to truly
enjoy it.

                               * * *
Thought of the Day: January 21, 2018

Mistakes never wear the same mask twice and that is why we keep
making them. Even if we want to correct ourselves, unless we
contemplate our mistakes beneath the surface of how they appear, and
instead look into why they appear, we will continue making the same
mistakes.

Most of our mistakes are caused by similar underlying causes such as
greed, impatience, lack of tolerance, and so forth. Of the many
disturbing emotions, we are generally more prone to some than others.
If we examine our weaknesses in the light of their underlying causes
such as jealousy, or impatience, fickle mindednees, or whatever may be,
and instead of a particular manifestation of the emotion, we will be
more likely be able to see beneath its mask when that emotion wishes to
control us.

A Buddhist saying goes, “get at the root, don’t worry about twigs and
branches.” Whatever incident gets us into trouble, and we feel we have
let ourselves down, we should take time to reflect on that emotion and
separate it from the particulars of the instance that occurred. Then, we
should contemplate the emotion stripped of all particulars and see it as
it is. In this way, we will be able to see beneath the mask the next time
that emotion tries to control us.

                               * * *
Thought of the Day: January 22, 2018

There is a saying, “Clear thinking made Shakra chief among God’s.”

Clear thinking is attained by slowing down. We tend to think too fast,
and are hardly aware of what we’re thinking. Our thoughts are like
railroad cars going by real rapidly, we catch snippets here and there, but
it’s like a collage of disjointed thoughts, that are difficult to fit into the
context of our lives. If we slow down, we would have fewer thoughts,
there simply wouldn’t be a place for a flood of thoughts,  and we
would be more clearheaded about the thoughts that remain, and this
would be a source of peace and contentment.

Thinking is about quality, not quantity. A profusion of thoughts going
this way and that way stresses the mind out, whereas a few clear
thoughts anchor the mind and produce contentment. Spreading
ourselves out far and wide in our thinking, may be possible in thought,
but will not be in active life, we simply won’t be able to do everything
at once, and we will have to make choices, and since the thoughts are
not clear, our choices may not be the best.

Throughout the day we should stop and look periodically as if in the
rearview mirror and look at what we’re thinking, and slow down and
weed out the unnecessary, and give greater consideration to what is
necessary. When it comes time to act, we will do things better and we
will enjoy doing them more. So, take a cue from Shakra and become
king of your thoughts.

                                               * * *
Thought of the Day: January 23, 2018

Meditation is often thought of as a very esoteric and out of reach
process. After all, so many big thick books have been written on it that
its simplicity is terribly masked. The fact is that it is not really so
difficult to understand. We are familiar with the fact that we have many
thoughts going through our mind every day, in fact, there’s so many
that it often seems that we are not aware of any individual thoughts; but
rather we are just engaged in thinking and when we stop for a moment,
we realize the mind has been busy, but with what is not exactly clear.
One of the main functions of meditation is to clarify the very thinking
process itself, to allow the mind to slow down enough to allow us to be
aware of exactly what it is thinking.

A simple way to think of meditation is engaging the mind in a single
thought. If we imagine the mind as a big fish tank with many little fish
in it pretty hard to keep track of all the fish. But if a big fell into the
tank and swallowed up all a little fish, it would be pretty easy to keep
track of that one fish and know everything about it. Meditation is a little
like this.

When we meditate we can begin by concentrating on the meditation
topic, a mantra, a visualization, and so forth. In the beginning, the
meditation topic is very weak, but as we continually focus on it it
become stronger and stronger and gradually we become engaged with it
to the extent that we are practically absorbed into it. This is when
meditation is actually taking hold. So, we think of meditation as
engaging the mind in a single thought, it can go a long way towards
thinking it is some out of reach process.


                                               * * *
Thought of the Day: January 24, 2018

Sharing ideas is one of Buddhism’s richest joys, and it has a rich
philosophy to share. As far as communicating ideas goes, an interesting
idea is the concept of explaining things for oneself, or others. An
explanation for oneself, would consider the level of discourse and
reasoning we are capable of, whereas an explanation for others would
be an explanation for their level of understanding. This is an interesting
idea that can be applied in many areas of life.

If we are to be skillful in our communicating, it is essential to speak on
the level of our audience. I know that I often talk as if I am talking to
myself, assuming my audience has had the same life experiences and
education as I have. Once, before a large audience of Buddhist
practitioners I began a discourse on Buddhism in Nepal and pointed to
my right when indicating where Nepal was. Everyone burst out
laughing! That time it was funny, but when we have a bunch of
bewildered faces looking at us, it isn’t funny.

When we study the dharma for ourselves, we must reason in the context
of our own lives and explore what it could mean to us and try to fit it in
the context of our own understanding; but, when we are speaking to
others, we must shift to their framework, and the better we are at it, the
better we will communicate.

When we speak the dharma, we want to generate enthusiasm in our
listeners, and not bewilderment. And, what can be said for deep
philosophical principles can be said for the most common place things
we wish to discuss. Always have the listener in mind.

                                               * * *
Thought of the Day: January 25, 2018

We often hear the words, “all is one,” but how many of us actually feel
it? If we were to truly feel it, it would probably be the greatest
experience of our life. But saying it and getting there are two very
different things. The path that gets one there has been the subject of
countless religious discourses from all religious traditions.

A little reflection on Christ’s words, “do unto others as you would have
others do unto you,” or, from the Buddha “being one with all beings,
just this is great compassion,”  “All creatures are like a family of God:
and he loves the most those who are the most beneficent to His
family." --The Prophet Muhammad, and other faiths teach in like ways,
it is only us to us to seek out the teachings and put them into practice.

Feeling one with oneself is good, feeling one with all beings is better
still. In everything we do there’s always a opportunity to act in a
righteous way, which may take a little reflection and sacrifice to
recognize. A good rule of thumb is to do as Shanti Deva says, and put
ourselves beneath others. If we can do that it is probably enough. When
we view ourselves as a servant of others will automatically regard them
as ourselves. It is just a manner of appropriating our services to others
rather than oneself, which is not to say we leave ourselves out the
equation, for by benefiting others we indirectly benefit ourselves.

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Thought of the Day: January 26, 2018

It is far better for all concerned to rejoice in the good of others than to
denigrate them for their ills. Some people have more faults than others
and may seem very deserving of criticism, but for our own happiness
and their welfare of others is far better to hold our tongue and resist all
impulses to criticize. If somebody seems to have faults those faults are
probably obvious to everyone and it is pointless to waste our energy to
bring them to others’ attention. Far wiser it would be to scrutinize them
well and see what qualities they have for that will bring us more
satisfaction than criticism ever will.


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Thought of the Day: January 27, 2018

If we are criticized, we should not fret or worry about it. If we are
deserving of the criticism, then it is an opportunity for us to investigate
and see how we may improve ourselves. If we are not deserving of the
criticism, then again, we have no worries.

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Thought of the Day: January 28, 2018

I’m attending a meditation session at the City of 10,000 Buddha. It is a
three-week session, running from 4 AM to 9 PM, one hour sits,
alternating with 25 minute walks. It has been a while since I sat with a
group of people, although I sit in meditation every day for many hours.
But, I must say I enjoy meditating with others. Even though we are not
talking to each other during the session, or keeping it to a minimal, there
is a feeling of compadre and support for one another that makes it
easier to sit for all of those hours.

As laypeople, I think it’s important for us to find companions to
meditate with. It generates enthusiasm and a sense of sharing the
practice together. In this sense is not any different from sports. There is
no reason at all that meditation should not be a team effort, wherein we
support one another in our practice of the dharma. This is the way it
originally was during the Buddhas time where large assemblies of
practitioners gathered together to listen to sermons and share the
dharma.

Often within our communities there are dharma centers, which are
sometimes just apartments that are used as dharma centers once or
twice a week. These are easy to find by just looking in the phone book
under Buddhist centers. Connecting with these organizations will
provide us an opportunity to meditate with others at least a couple of
times a week and meet like-minded people. Of course, we can also
invite friends to our own home to meditate once or twice a week.

Although meditation seems like a private affair it really isn’t. It’s a pity
that so many people make it a private affair, because this is the reason
so many meditation attempts fail. If we want to be successful at
meditation and equally importantly, enjoy it, it behooves us not to
ignore the social aspect of spiritual inquiry and include others in our
spiritual journey.
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Thought of the Day: January 29, 2018

If we only can find meditation sitting still with her legs crossed, we
shouldn’t be doing any meditation at all. When we sit cross-legged in
meditation, it is a contrived and unnatural state that does not reflect the
real world. It is a good testing ground for how to be a better person, a
more mindful person, and a more loving person, in active life, but if we
don’t find that meditation is doing that for us we have to reevaluate
how we meditate and the books we are reading to support our
meditation. If meditation is not generating more love, and mindfulness,
our meditation is not correct.

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Thought of the Day: January 30, 2018

There is a saying by Master Hsuan Hua, “truly recognize your own
faults and don’t discuss the faults of others, being one with all beings,
just this is great compassion.” We don’t have to do other people’s
laundry, we have enough of our own to do. And yet it’s a common
practice to fault find, it is a fault we all have to some extent.

Finding fault with others tires out the mind and does us no good nor
the other person. No one benefits. If we examine it, we find fault in
others as a way of distracting ourselves from our own faults and
shortcomings. Instead, when we notice faults in others we should
immediately look within ourselves and ask ourselves how is it that I also
have this fault. Inevitably, if we examine ourselves we will find that the
same fault we are seeing in someone else is also manifesting in
ourselves, although perhaps not in the same way.

If we can turn faultfinding around and use it as a mirror to reflect
within ourselves then we have done something useful and put our
energy to good use. We benefit not only ourselves but other people too.
By viewing others’ faults as just our own, we develop a compassionate
attitude and a natural warmth to other people that will attract friends.
There is no one that does not like to be liked and ridding the mind of
faultfinding will go a long way to this end.
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Thought of the Day: January 31, 2018

Everyone would like a silver bullet, but where when it comes to
improving oneself, there really isn’t one, and certainly not meditation. In
fact, often meditation is thought of as the multi tool that does
everything, to achieve a happier life. The fact is that meditation is just
one part of a multi-prong tool whose aim is to achieve harmony with
nature and oneself. If all the other aspects are not in place, meditation
by itself is impotent.

When we have committed ourselves to meditation, we must understand
we are committing ourselves to a complete lifestyle change, for
meditation requires the support of a moral and ethical life, as well as a
well-disciplined approach to entertainment, material things, and food,
sex, and entertainment. How we live our lives as a meditator is just
common sense. Since we meditate to understand the nature of the mind
itself, naturally seeking in external circumstances undermines that effort.

Common sense and mindfulness of what meditation is can go a long
way towards helping us develop a meditative lifestyle that is well-
balanced and in harmony with our overall spiritual aspirations.
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