Thought for the Day: June 2, 2017

Faith and devotion are sources of happiness. People who have these
qualities are generally happy because they are optimistic and an optimistic
attitude believes in possibilities.  But, as we all know, many with faith and
devotion do not have understanding, and without understanding,
happiness is very superficial and shallow. Other qualities must go along
with faith and devotion, for faith and devotion entails them. These
qualities include, “giving, generosity, serving others, dedication, and
subordinating our own interests to the welfare of others.

If we have faith and devotion to the Buddha, we must adorn our faith and
devotion with the qualities mentioned above to assure that our faith and
devotion has a solid foundation. We must work hard and be willing to
make sacrifices to assure that our belief is well founded and supported by
understanding. We must not just say we believe, but feel it deep within
and reflect it in our actions.
         * * *
Thought for the Day: June 3, 2017

Attentiveness assures that we do what we do to the best of our ability;
when we rush, we make mistakes. Most of us need to slow down. Trying
to keep pace with a fast-paced world makes it difficult to avoid silly
mistakes and we end up saying to ourselves, “I should have known
better.” If we slow down, we may fall back, if we keep pace, we risk
making mistakes. What a dilemma!

There is no fixed rule we can follow that will keep us from making
unnecessary mistakes; but with a little effort we should be able to reduce
them. Reflection on our time constraints can help us to assess whether we
really must rush, or we are just rushing because that is what we usually do.
Often, we rush unnecessarily, and not only is this a cause of stress, but it
is also a reason we make mistakes. So, rule number one is to slow down a
reflect on time constraints.

Rule number two is to plan to assure that we know what we are doing
and there are no surprises. Often mistakes are made when we are pressed
to insert steps to fulfill an action. So, we should know and foresee as
much as possible all our requirements to get the job done.

Rule number three is to allow extra time. Unexpected traffic, road
closures, car break downs, and so forth can cause delays, and delays cause
us to be cramped for time. So, we should allow for them.

Rule number four is to be prepared. Know what you are doing and have
all that you need to do it.  Have all your necessary documents, bags, pens,
ID, and so forth.
Eat before you set out is rule number five. Don’t run around tempted by
every snack you see; if you do you will be distracted and less effective.

Follow these few rules and feel free to add your own for stress free
activity and more productivity.
              * * *
Thought for the Day: June 4, 2017

Many people when they first begin to meditate complain that they are less
happy than before they began. They may say that they had less anger, less
jealousy, less greed, less anxiety, and so forth. In general, the standard
complaint and reason why many who recently began a meditation practice
quit is because they feel worse off.

What meditation does, however, is make us aware of emotions and
feelings we were not previously aware of, and does not create new
emotions, as mentioned above. Meditation brings to the surface long
buried and forgotten obstacles so that we can see them, understand them,
and eventually overcome them.

For those of us more familiar with the psychology of meditation we know
that meditation is not confined to the meditation cushion. Many times
throughout our day meditation assumes a different form and if we
recognize it as such provides the opportunity to meditate. Some examples
of “street-meditation” would include such things as traffic jams,
arguments with friends, co-workers, employers, lost keys, wallet, and so
forth, broken relationship, being cheated, ridiculed, verbally abused and
harshly spoken to, illness, and so forth, basically any undesirable condition
that demands patience, self-restraint, poise, even-mindedness, presence of
mind, self-control, etc. in order to maintain proper mental comportment.
Any situation that tempts negative emotions to the surface is performing
the same function as meditation and should be viewed as such if we are to
make the most out of an unwanted circumstance.

Meditation only delivers negative experiences in a controlled environment
that enables us to focus on them more efficiently, but if we feel meditation
in a seated formal setting is not amenable to us, we can look for
meditation elsewhere, as indicated above. Wherever we find it, the
function of meditation is not to induce a blissful or pleasant state of mind,
but rather to remove the obstacles to it. The blissful nature within us never
for a moment ceased, but we have drifted far from it and created obstacles
for ourselves.

              * * *
While calling on good teachers is important, we should keep in mind the
responsibility we have to be worthy recipients. We do this by study,
reflection, and meditation, particularly the first two. Masters often have the
uncanny ability to speak directly to our doubts, the big questions mark in
our mind, but, without study and reflection it is unlikely we will have one.
This is not unlike receiving academic instruction in that the students who
do their homework absorb the lessons of their instructors far better than
those who don’t. We do not have to understand what we study, but we at
least should know what it is that we don’t understand. A well-defined lack
of understanding is a fertile field for instructions to take root, whether it is
academic instructions or spiritual instructions.

Within Buddhism the mental question mark is termed “the sensation of
doubt,” and the more burdensome the doubt the bigger the awakening
when it is removed. Most of us have no sensation of doubt because we
accept the world just as it is. This is called naive realism. But, through the
study of Buddhist philosophy we can begin to doubt whether the world
exists the way it appears. When we investigate sincerely we will begin to
doubt our deeply ingrained beliefs. The curious thing here is that we may
not have come up with a theory to replace our beliefs, but we doubt them
just the same. We will increasingly doubt, and the deeper our doubt, the
more we undermine our naïve way of looking at the world until it
collapses. This is a lengthy process generally extending over many years,
with many minor awakenings along the way.

Visiting enlightened masters can help us to have many minor and major
breakthroughs, but we must do the work and pave the way.

            * * *

Thought for the Day: June 6, 2017

People have a lot of Wisdom that doesn’t work for them, but will work
for someone else!

            * * *

Thought for the Day: June 7, 2017

Masters teach you the far out of reach stuff, but it is the people on the
way that help you grab it.
            * * *
Stagnation is a danger for all of us, whether we are on the spiritual path or
not. The mind must be stimulated if we are to be happy. Stimulation
means to induce innovative ways of thinking, adopt new patterns of
meditation, of course, and another valuable resource is enlightened
friendships. Enlightening friendships is simply associating with people that
challenge our views and inspire us to shake off stagnation.

Stagnation is easy in a modern society because distractions abound and
distraction hides stagnation. Almost all forms of entertainment, for
example, is a distraction. It seduces our mind for a while, but when it is
over, we are left feeling empty and unsatisfied inside. Because distraction
is offered in many forms, we can easily be constantly distracted and not
even recognize that we are stagnating.

A precept for both lay and ordained followers of the Buddha was to
refrain from all non-essential entertainment. When the mind is
undistracted by entertainment it is forced to be creative and creativity is a
natural expression of mind. When creativity is not exercised the mind dies,
and nothing hides a dying mind more than entertainment and various
other forms of distraction, needless gossip, gadgets, and so forth.

We cannot make a break from distraction without substituting it for
something else. And this is where the importance of meditation and
friendship comes in. Vowing to allot quality time with friends, time to
communicate feelings and ideas, is a great substitute for general distraction
of which we are all constantly being entice into. Deepening friendships,
we already have is a worthwhile goal because developing basic human
values is the foundation of any spiritual path. Combine this with
meditation and the appetite for distraction will diminish and we will be
free of stagnation.

            * * *

Today we have the unprecedented ability through technology to
accomplish our highest wishes, but unfortunately it is our petty interests
that we often focus on. Personal devices offer more opportunities for
misuse than use, so it is no wonder that we are distracted by their many
offerings and fail to fulfill our altruistic ambitions, if not forget them
altogether.

Small, pocket-sized devices are power-packed with offerings.  It is hard to
pick one up and remember why we did so when we are overwhelmed by
so many offerings. Apps and programs vie for our attention and distract
us from the tasks we choose. This is not unlike sitting in meditation and
becoming overwhelmed by thoughts. In either case, whether it be a small
device, or a meditation topic, we must resist the impulse to follow
distraction and tend to what we set out to accomplish.

Modern devices require discipline if we are to benefit from them. We
cannot afford to be lured this way and that, but instead shut out all that
does not accord with our original intention when we picked up the device.
There is so much potential for both use and abuse in our modern
electronics, and it takes skill and discipline to avoid their pitfalls.

            * * *
Thought for the Day: June 10, 2017

One of the simplest and yet most profound pieces of advice given
regarding embracing the spiritual path is “be ordinary and nothing
special.” Although we are embarking on a profound journey when we set
out on the path to enlightenment we should refrain from such outward
displays that might set us apart from ordinary people. It is natural to feel a
sense of pride in ourselves for undertaking the work necessary to fulfill
our deepest and most heartfelt aspiration, but to make known our
ambitions to others will prove a distraction and a hindrance to the path.

Dharma practice can lead to self-congratulations and fishing for
recognition from others, both of which must be guarded against. The
path to awakening is strewn with many obstacles as it is, without our
adding new ones by our newfound identity as a spiritual aspirant. As
much as possible, we must do the work without allowing ourselves too
much outward show. Keeping our spirituality to ourselves can go a long
way towards supporting our overall ambitions.

                          * * *

One of the obstacles to meditation and the spiritual life is having
preferences. Preferences are rooted in our prior conditioning and
habituation and are notoriously unreliable guides. When we enter the
spiritual path, and engage in meditation, our personal preferences make
progress difficult. We want things one way, but we become aware that
our dharma practice is pushing us another way. If we flow with our
preferences, we hinder our progress. If we sacrifice our preferences, we
make progress on the path, but it is at the expense of our personal
pleasure. Practicing the dharma entails making choices, and they are often
not easy and as straightforward as we might wish.
                          * * *

Kindness begins at home; in fact, it begins with ourselves. The good
qualities we wish to express to others, we must embrace ourselves.
Kindness is a good example. Being a kind person begins with ourselves.
If we are harsh with ourselves, we will be harsh with others. If we don’t
listen to our inner prompting, are always overbearing, wanting to have
seeking compromise when we want things one way, but know a higher
way. When we fight with ourselves, we are not listening. And, when we
are not listening, we are not being kind to ourselves. We are pushing our
own agenda against our better judgement. We are not listening.

As far as others go, being kind is listening to them and trying our best to
understand them. It is one of the simplest yet profound gestures of
kindness  when we listen to what others say and try to understand them.
This is the equivalent to a mental embrace, a hug of the mind, and
conveys warmth and love.

It can be difficult to be kind when people are confrontational and abusive
to us. While this is true, it is also true that such encounters are
opportunities to hone our skills, for if we can be kind in difficult
circumstances, we will naturally adopt a kind attitude always. In fact,
people who are not nice to us are the ones most unhappy with themselves
and in need of kindness. Although they may not reflect it in turn, they
appreciate it.
Kindness is one of the “Four Limitless Minds” within Buddhism, and it
is for good reason. It can bring immeasurable happiness to ourselves and
others.
                          * * *
Thought for the Day: June 13, 2017

Finding “Joy” in others’ joy is the smart thing to do, because the joy of
others can far exceed our own individual joy. It is simple mathematics
that we multiply our capacity for joy many times when we develop the
being joyful at another’s achievements, we are jealous and perhaps wish
something like that could happen to us. This is a very narrow attitude and
should be banished when we see it in ourselves.

We may be habituated to think primarily in terms of personal happiness,
but with practice we can truly participate in the joy of others. We should
observe our own mind when we see others happy and impartially assess
how we feel, are we sharing their joy or are we a bit tinged with jealousy?
By simply observing our attitude we can gradually become 100% capable
of rejoicing in the happiness of others.
                           * * *
Thought for the Day: June 1, 2017
While on the flight I discussed with a fellow passenger, Sonya, some ways
of using the breath as a means to overcome fear arising when turbulence
tosses the plane around. Although the primary aim of dharma practice is
seeing the nature of the mind and awakening, most dharma doors have
secondary applications that lend them well to ordinary affairs.
Mindfulness of breathing is one of them.
Sonya and I talked about using the breath to remain calm when the plane
isn’t. By simple observing the tip of the nose, the coolness felt during the
inhalation, and the warmth felt by the exhalation, and labeling them as
“inhale” and “exhale,” appropriately, this exercise will produce
mindfulness and steadiness of mind, and all fears and anxiety will cease.
Mindfulness of breathing relieves many negative emotions: anxiety, stress,
anger, panic, and so forth. When we practice mindfulness of breath, we
should take long, deep inhalations and exhalations, and as slowly as
possible. We should not allow our breath to quiver or become erratic. If it
does, it is a sign that we must tone down our enthusiasm. We want to
produce a balanced effort. The breath cycles must be balanced between
being too easy and too difficult. We must not overexert ourselves or
under-exert ourselves. With practice, mindfulness of breathing can solve
many of our ills.

                     * * *
Thought for the Day: June 14, 2017

“Compassion” is one of the “Four Limitless Minds,” the others,
Kindness, Joy (sympathetic joy, sharing another’s joy,) and Giving, are the
others. Compassion is just having basic human feelings for others, warm-
heartedness, as His Holiness the Dalai Lama points out. The word
compassion, like love, is so widely used, abused, and misused, that its
meaning is often not clear. But, it is a very real feeling within us that we
may have lost touch with, it is the natural warmth and concern for the
welfare of others.

Although the feeling of compassion may be dim within us, and covered
over with many other emotions, it is there and we only need to catch the
faintest glimmer of it, and focus on that, and gradually it will grow. If
when we sit in meditation, we seek out that feeling of compassion and
nurture it, we will see results in our everyday lives, and others will notice it
in us, as well. Being compassionate, makes us feel good, and makes others
feel good being around us. We are not creating a new state of mind, but
only remembering one forgotten.

                           * * *

“Giving” is one of the “Four Limitless Minds,” the other are Kindness,
Compassion, and Joy (rejoicing in others’ happiness.) Giving away
whatever excess we have is a virtue that brings wellbeing to others and joy
to ourselves. Wealth not shared is a burden, but shared it is a source of
peace and happiness. Providing opportunities for others enables us to
share in their achievement. We are only single individuals and can only do
so much and therefore have an intrinsic limitation on our achievements.
But, others are limitless and when we provide the means for others to
fulfill their aims, we too share in their success.
We can only give according to our means, but generosity comes from the
heart, and even seemingly small offerings are meritorious. Moreover,
“Giving” is not confined to material giving, but other forms, as well. We
can offer to be a big brother or big sister to troubled youth, tutor in a
school, talk to elderly at a community center or home for the aged, and
many other forms of volunteer work. Our spare time can be a precious
treasure for someone in need.

The dharma of “Giving” may take time to grow accustom to and it is
often advised to begin by giving trivial things and gradually increase our
generosity over an extended period. This is far better than beginning in a
manner that stretches our means. If we start moderately and leave plenty
of room for increase, we will be in the race for the long haul. We certainly
are not out to impress anyone.

The joy of “Giving” is for each of us to discover for herself. We are all
unique individuals and the way we choose to give will be varied. How we
can give is for each of us to explore for ourselves., our capacities and
inclinations may be very different, but is it not true that experiencing the
joy of giving is a noble and worthwhile aim?


                           * * *

Keeping the body fit is a responsibility, not a choice. The sutras teach us
that the human form is precious and difficult to attain, it is the vehicle of
enlightenment, and should be maintained. While meditation, hearing the
dharma, and study, may be the essence of dharma practice, there are
supportive practices such as service and yoga, right diet, charity, and so
forth that cannot be ignored. One of the most important supportive
practices is to maintain the physical body so that we feel alert, healthy,
responsive, and energetic. If we are not fit and feel sluggish and our body
is not serviceable to our mind, it will be difficult to focus while
meditating, or have an uplifting attitude when interacting with others.

Any form of physical exercise, performed in a disciplined way, at a fixed
time, daily, and for a given amount of time, is very supportive towards
our spiritual endeavors.  Yoga  is excellent for it was developed for the
purpose of supporting meditation, and spiritual inquiry. Other forms of
exercise are also good, but not as direct and thorough as yoga for
nourishing the mind-body relationship. It is a tried and proven system
that has a history over five thousand years old. No other physical
discipline comes close to having a history as extensive as yoga.

The forms we adopt when we practice yoga align the channels and
meridians running through the body and set our joints and bones in their
proper places. Our muscles become pliable and soft, subtle and
serviceable. The meridians and channels number in the thousand and can
be likened to freeway systems carrying energy and nutrients throughout
the body. Like a freeway full of traffic, when the meridians and channels
are clogged we become lethargic, dull, and inert --- in short nothing
moves. Yoga keeps the traffic flowing.  A daily yoga practice banishes
depression, uplifts the mind, sustains a peaceful attitude, releases energy,
and so forth.

Today yoga classes are very expensive, but that should not discourage us
from beginning. There are many excellent illustrated yoga books that
when placed in front of us with a countdown timer can set us on our way
to building a viable yoga practice. Generally, in a studio, yoga classes are
one to one and a half hours, but we can begin with whatever is
comfortable and work up to there. Fifteen or twenty minutes should be
enough in the beginning.

The dangers of becoming too mental are very real for meditation
practitioners and must be guarded against. Sometimes it is difficult to see
the importance of the body mind relationship and all to easy to become
stuck in our heads. Yoga is probably the best way to prevent this, but
there are others. We should choose an exercise regimen we feel
comfortable with and do that, religiously, for a more vibrant sense of
physical wellbeing and a mental disposition more suitable for spiritual
inquiry.

                         * * *

Thought for the Day: June 16, 2017

And if you find yourself engaged
In different kinds of pointless conversation
And curious sights, the like of which abound—
Be rid of all delight and taste for them.

Shantideva. The Way of the Bodhisattva: Revised Edition  
Shambhala Publications. Kindle Edition.

                         * * *
Thought for the Day: June 18, 2017
Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there!

Fewness of wishes is an important support for meditation practice and is
often spoken about and elaborated upon in Buddhist and Hindu
scriptures. Where there are wishes, there are distractions, and distraction is
opposed to meditation.

Reducing our wishes is a matter of making choices and refraining from
unnecessary shopping. Paradoxically, the more we consume, the more we
want to consume, rather than less. The reverse is also true: the less we
consume, the less we are driven to consume. When we consume less, we
become content with what we have. We also become more resourceful
and creative in how we use things.

Often consumers don’t shop out of necessity, but boredom, just for the
sake of something to do. Although, this does bring satisfaction, it is only
for the moment. Although a walk in a park, or gardening, or cleaning the
house, may not seem as therapeutic, its results endure longer. There are
often several alternative to unnecessary shopping, we just have to reflect
and explore them.

Naturally, reducing wishes stimulates contentment, and contentment
everyone wants. It is the responsibility of each of us to develop the habits
that foster it, and these habits are not difficult to understand, although
they take some effort to implement.

                         * * *
Thought for the Day: June 19, 2017

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there!

The value of friends and family is their ability to teach us to love and care
for others. The lessons they teach us are precious and should be gradually
extended to include being warmhearted and kind to everyone, and treating
others as if they too were our family members and friends. Today is
Father’s Day, and if as fathers if we have a nurturing and supportive
attitude towards our extended family of humanity, we truly have
something to celebrate.

                         * * *
Thought for the Day: June 20, 2017

things mediocre. Also, activities that are done with attention and non-
distraction are enjoyable, not so if we are unable to focus because our
mind is drifting to other things. Therefore, the first step towards happier
days is to reduce the workload we have before us.

Most of us don’t reflect sufficiently on the things we intend to do.
Typically, we find ourselves with a bigger load than we can carry
comfortably. It is obvious that a little planning could have saved us a lot
of work, but planning we often don’t do and regret it later.

If a few times a week we sit down and give ourselves a few minutes,
fifteen minutes to a half hour should be enough, to think about what lies
ahead, we are likely to find things we can eliminate. Simplification of our
activities by having fewer of them is the tried and proven best method to
create a stress-free day.

All of us can simplify our lives to some extent and it is only a question of
doing it. We deserve to lead a peaceful and enjoyable life and it will
become a reality if we make it so. The task is ours.
                         * * *
Thought for the Day: June 21, 2017

One thing we all have in common is our desire to be happy. Happiness is
the common denominator of all living beings. Of course, most of us seek
our own happiness, but Shantideva, the sixth century master of Nalanda
University, poses the question in his renowned book, “The Bodhisattva
Way of Life,” why not seek the happiness of others and take that as our
own?” He further points out that by seeking one’s own welfare all misery
arises, but by seeking the happiness of others all happiness arises.

Each of us is a single individual, but others are many. There is a natural
limitation to “one” when it is our own welfare we seek, but when we seek
the welfare of “many,” there is no such limitation. Therefore, does it not
make more sense to seek the happiness of many and remove the limit on
our own happiness?

                         * * *
Thought for the Day: June 22, 2017

Being supportive of others is an essential aspect of Buddhist practice. In
Sanskrit, the word samaya means commitment, but it means it in a very
strict sense. Samaya is a link between ourselves and others, particularly
others on the path to realization. The practice of the dharma links us
together in a relation of samaya with other like-minded individuals, and
breaking samaya with fellow pilgrims on the path is regarded as a heavy
offence.

Sometimes out of jealousy, anger, prejudice, and so forth, dharma
practitioners back bite fellow cultivators, criticize, and talk behind their
back. Such behavior is a serious breach of samaya and breaks the link
between us and others on the path. Breaking samaya sets our own
practice back and it is difficult to recover.

The primary reason the Buddha formed a sangha is so that sangha
members could support each other. Whether we are members of a formal
sangha, or as laymen associate with others on the path to enlightenment,
we have a responsibility to one another that should be purely maintained.
If we see opportunity coming the way of one of our fellow sangha
members we should do all we can to support them. If we don’t, we
breach our samaya and create serious setbacks for ourselves.

                         * * *
Thought for the Day: June 23, 2017

A little instruction can go a long way, but it must be good instruction.
And, when it comes to spiritual instruction it is even more important to
have a capable teacher.  Within Buddhism a good teacher is known as a
“Good Knowing Advisor,” for good reasons, no pun intended. He is
“good” because his motivation is rooted in his compassion and not
realized the fruit of his study and attained accomplishment. He may not
be thoroughly enlightened, but he has had awakenings to the inner
meanings of the teachings and has removed many obstacles to
knowledge. Being a “knowing” advisor is important because he can see
clearly our obstacles and help us remedy them.

Although we may wish to find a teacher, we should be very selective.
There are a few things to look for.

1)        Those trying to enrich themselves by charging fees that go beyond
rental costs of the venue should be completely avoided. The Buddha
forbade receiving compensation for teaching and if someone is
exchanging dharma for dollars stay away.

2)        Look at their credentials to teach. Particularly important is lineage.
A teacher who has spent many years studying under the guidance of one
who belongs to an established lineage is part of their lineage and his roots
of understanding will go deep. Often, lineage can be traced several
lifetimes.

3)        Feel affinities with the teacher. Not only should the teacher you
find have the qualities mentioned above, but you should feel connected
with him or her. You may have to attend several teachings with him and
have an interview.

A little common sense and following the simple rules above can help us
find a good teacher and avoid the many who would have us believe they
are but are only deceiving people. Today, many are teaching who are
unqualified, but many are qualified as well, It is our responsibility to
ourselves to know the difference.

                                      * * *
Thought for the Day: June 24, 2017

If we used our common sense the religious teachers of all faiths would
not need to say much. If we examine the foundational teachings of our
religious traditions we can easily recognize that what is being said is in
accord with our deepest intuitions. The trouble is, we have become
disassociated with our intuitions and have to be reminded, and that was
what Christ, the Buddha, and others were up to.

A monk once asked his Master, please point out the Path to
Enlightenment. The Master was silent, and merely pointed up, and then
down. What he meant was that if you think about it right and wrong, is
as obvious as up and down. But, the problem is we don’t think, and
therefore we need to be reminded.

For the most part, whatever we might ask a Master, we could ask
ourselves and receive an adequate answer. But, we have to ask, and we
have to listen. We must pay attention to ourselves. If we did this we
could save our teachers a lot of energy.


                                      * * *
Thought for the Day: June 26, 2017

Depression is common whether we meditate or not. It is a phenomenon
that is growing as our cultures become more impersonal. It is an issue
most of us must address from time to time, and others more often. A
little effort towards understanding how much our depression affects
others, may help us to snap out of it faster.

If we are depressed it is surly effecting others. People care about us, but
depression often masks this fact, and we become entangled and feeling
alone in our depression. When this is the case, we should turn the focus
towards the effect we are having on others and how our depression may
catch it. Even if they don’t, they want to see us well as soon as possible.
Depression thrives in isolation, so the less isolated we are the quicker we
will come out of depression. We should make ourselves available to
others, share with them our thoughts and feelings. Sometimes we need a
friend, just as sometimes we need to be one.


                                 * * *
Thought for the Day: June 27, 2017

If one’s body is not in balance, it is unlikely one’s mind will be, unless
one is a realized person. So, for most of us, we have a responsibility to
maintain our physical form in good working order so that we can
practice meditation and be of service to others.
There are many ways to stay fit, but only one specifically designed for
those practicing meditation, and that is yoga. Yoga is designed to keep
the body pliant and balanced and strong. And, it does all three well.
Many yoga poses develop balance which naturally supports the even
mindedness meditation requires. Yoga makes our body pliant and this
supports tolerance and patience, so important to meditation. Yoga
develops strength, and this supports our ability to sit in meditation
without fatigue.
Meditation practice is not as mental as it may seem. Our nerve channels,
wind channels, blood circulation, and strength, are all necessary. When all
are in place, we are cheerful, energetic, and resilient, and able to focus
and be mindful. Meditation will be something we will look forward to if
our attitude is right, and our attitude is more likely to be right if we are
free of fatigue, energetic, and cheerful. A half hour to one hour of daily
yoga practice will assure that we are enthusiastic when meditation time
comes.

                           * * *

Thought for the Day: June 28, 2017

Altruism is an attitude that everyone who meditates should embrace for
it keeps selfishness at bay, and selfish aspirations easily creep into
meditation and hinder it. We want enlightenment or at least blissful
meditation states, but often underestimate the importance of having the
right attitude when we go into the project of attaining them. Intention
plays an essential role in meditation, and the more selfless it is the better
it will proceed, the more selfish it is, the slower going it will be. It is all a
question of how we frame our mind.

                           * * *

Thought for the Day: June 29, 2017

There is far more to the spiritual path than meditation, although it may
seem like the most important. But, without right livelihood and conduct,
meditation will not result in our feeling of satisfaction. Our livelihood
and conduct must be given attention to and be such that we do not harm
others and benefit them. By paying attention to what goes on externally,
we support our inward quests, as well.


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Often people pass through life without following basic guidelines and just
perform actions without thinking about them. Naturally, if rules are
connected with actions those actions will be performed with a stronger
intention and well directed toward a goal. The Buddha taught the dharma
so that people had guidelines to follow that would lead them to liberation
and knowledge.
When we connect our actions to rules, it is like using a rudder on a boat
and gives us a sense of direction, surety, and confidence. We are not just
drifting aimlessly through life. In order to take advantage of the benefits
of rules we must study the dharma and know what the guidelines are.
Meditation may be more attractive, but without rules, it too will lack
direction, so both must be practiced together.

                                              * * *