Thought for the Day: March 1, 2017

There are many kinds of happiness, but they all fall under two broad of
happiness that we are all familiar with, it is the happiness of a new friend,
any action successfully completed, any aspiration realized, the reward of
any good deed, a new possession, and so forth. This kind of happiness
can be thought of as conventional happiness and the obvious question it
begs is what happiness would look like if it didn't have a support. It is a
very fundamental question that led the Buddha, and many other Saints,
who grew dissatisfied with their extraordinary wealth, recognition and
social position. Some of these masters started out with far from humble
positions and gradually divested their wealth, position, and status, to seek
a way to just be happy without seeking it outside themselves.

Basically, what these masters have discovered is that if you don't seek
happiness in externals, but just quiet the mind and make it completely
vulnerable, one becomes a victim, in a manner of speaking, of happiness.
It will seek you out, in a sense. But this takes some learning because we
are so accustomed to applying effort to make our lives the way we want
them to be that it's very difficult to just leave ourselves alone and be quiet,
full of faith, and long enduring. Fortunately, there have been spiritual
pioneers before us who have proven the possibility of arriving at perfect
peace and deep happiness by simply being quiet.

Many have the misguided idea that practicing meditation requires
withdrawing from the world or becoming averse to it, but that certainly is
not the case. In fact, it is often just a convenient excuse, much as a person
might avoid the gym because it smells funny or something like that, when
in fact, he/she is just plain lazy. The fact is, that a meditative lifestyle is as
simple as avoiding excess and frivolous activity and attachment to material
things that we know in our heart are not necessary. If we only do this
much, we are creating a foundation for meditation practice and a support
for its growth.

             
* * *

The relationship I had with my master, Master Hsuan Hua, is impossible
to describe in terms of depth, dependency, support, feeling, warmth,
closeness, and oneness. The nearest thing I can imagine, would be the
relationship between a mother and her child. The Master's love for his
because he has realized his enlightened nature. As such, he can truly give
of himself without counting the cost. The recipient of that love will
intuitively will feel its depth, even when it is a thorny embrace, as it often
is, coming from a master whose sole intent is to break loose his disciple
from burdensome attachments and entanglements, a often painful process
for the disciple. The foregoing process is a multi-year endeavor, and the
soil in which the love between a master and a disciple grows.

It is impossible to separate a master from the words he speaks, the sutras
he lectures, personal advice he offers, precautions, encouragements,
advice, instructions, and the jokes, yes, many jokes. The true Dharma
body of a master is  his words. And from my own experience whether the
master was in my presence or not, his words were always with me. And
when the master passed away, and many were saddened, I never felt his
absence, not even for a moment. Some people asked me why I left the
master, and I cannot help but think how naïve their question, not to
realize that what the master pours into his disciple can never be drained
away. And so, just as a young man I left my mother, but never felt her
absence, so I left my teacher, but never felt for a moment apart from him.
Now, that master Hsuan Hua has passed away, many are realizing what I
knew all along, while he was living, and that is hat the Master's Dharma
body cannot be destroyed, and it is his Dharma body that we loved all
along and we will continue to love.


             
* * *
Thought for the Day: March 3, 2017
Thought for the Day: March 5, 2017
Thought for the Day: March 7 2017
Thought for the Day: March 8, 2017

Today is my birthday, actually this day, 1946, many years ago, plenty to
Thought for the Day: March 11, 2017

Living vicariously, enjoying the happiness of others, is truly possible
because although our bodies are separate, our thoughts are not. affect
everyone else, particularly those closest to us, and conversely, the
thoughts of others affect us, as well. Being this is the case, we can take
advantage of the opportunity that serving others offers by consciously
contemplating the welfare of others and performing actions with their
interest in mind.

Each of us is a single individual, and if we just think of that individual,
we limit our capacity for happiness to that individual. But, others are
many, and when we perform actions for their welfare, or, in meditation
contemplate their welfare, we greatly expand our capacity for happiness.
If we were to sponsor a child in school, for example, that child would
be very grateful towards us, and we would feel his gratitude. The same
funds used to fulfill a personal pursuit might not generate a like result.
We are driven to fulfill our personal ambitions largely by the
conditioning of the society we live in, but the habits generated by this
conditioning can be reversed from personal striving to a more altruistic
viewpoint. It may take time, because old habits don’t die easily, but, if
we try, we can succeed.
because although our bodies are separate, our thoughts are not.
Whatever we think about are not really private thoughts at all, for they
affect everyone else, particularly those closest to us, and conversely, the
thoughts of others affect us, as well. Being this is the case, we can take
advantage of the opportunity that serving others offers by consciously
contemplating the welfare of others and performing actions with their
interest in mind.

Each of us is a single individual, and if we just think of that individual,
we limit our capacity for happiness to that individual. But, others are
many, and when we perform actions for their welfare, or, in meditation
contemplate their welfare, we greatly expand our capacity for happiness.
If we were to sponsor a child in school, for example, that child would
be very grateful towards us, and we would feel his gratitude. The same
funds used to fulfill a personal pursuit might not generate a like result.
We are driven to fulfill our personal ambitions largely by the
conditioning of the society we live in, but the habits generated by this
conditioning can be reversed from personal striving to a more altruistic
viewpoint. It may take time, because old habits don’t die easily, but, if
we try, we can succeed.

Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are conditioned by thoughts of
others more than we may realize. Whether we are Dharma practitioners
or not makes no difference, the fact is, that others are constantly in our
mind we are constantly in threes and the actions that others do and the
actions we do, the thoughts we have and the thoughts others have
intermingled and we have profound influence on one another. If we
take time to contemplate this fact, we will see the value of actively, with
full consciousness, taking the reins in our own hands and rather than
being manipulated by others’ actions and thoughts, consciously direct
our thoughts and actions for the benefit of others. If we do this, we are
broadcasting positive energy and like an antenna we will attract positive
energy. It is only a question of turning away from, single, personal
ambitions, to many, the welfare of others.

          * * *

the equality or inequality of illusions that mindfulness and
introspection may come to be qualified. This is because proper
mindfulness is applied to physical, verbal, and mental activity.
This is because, when set correctly within the mind—even at the
time of resting in equipoise—the mind clearly recognizes the
presence of lethargy and mental agitation. It clearly recognizes
that directing the mind toward an antidote for lethargy is
something lauded; it clearly recognizes the fact that mental
agitation is suppressed through its antidote, equanimity; and it
even recognizes, along those lines, that when awareness is in a
state of equipoise, it is free from the thorns of both lethargy and
excitement. Like a vigilant observer (gulmika, bya ra ba), it most
especially recognizes the state wherein there is no generation of
effort upon which an antidote relies. This is not unlike, for filled
with water. That emerges from views concerning illusion and
inequality.

Zangpo, Rongzom Chokyi. Entering the Way of the Great
Vehicle: Dzogchen as the Culmination of the Mahayana (Kindle
Locations 3545-3547). Shambhala. Kindle Edition.

              * * *

Thought of the Day: March 14, 2017

Those who practice the Dharma should be fearless and not afraid
of making mistakes. Those who are timid, will find it difficult to
make progress. Mistakes are inevitable if we are learning, and we
are all learning. While we want to be careful what we do, and not
do anything carelessly, we should not confuse being careful with
being timid. Christ criticized the timid villager who having some
money buried it, while he praised another who loaned his money
out to gain interest. When we practice the Dharma, we must be
willing to be aggressive, yet cautious, and not just stagnate in our
meditation and other Dharma activities. We don’t want the
Dharma to sedate us but inspire us, and that often means
stepping into new territory.

When we explore new territory we want to be careful that our
motivation is pure. If we make a mistake, and our motivation is
pure, we can always say to ourselves that are the least our
motivation was pure. But, if our motivation is not pure, we have
nothing to fall back upon. So, like many things in life, motivation
is the key. And in everything we do, especially Dharma practice,
and especially when we are taking risks, we should be clear about
our motivation and be able to stand behind it hundred percent.

         * * *                                                   
Thought for the Day: March 17, 2017
Thought for the Day: March 19, 2017
Thought for the Day: March 20, 2017

Fickleness is the absence of discipline, and fickleness guarantees
failure. If, as soon as our discipline is tested in some way, we waiver,
we are succumbing to fickleness. While we should not be so rigid in
our discipline that we do not adapt to changing circumstances, we
should never become so loose in our discipline that we waiver at the
slightest challenge, and yield to fickleness.

         * * *  
At times like this, it is helpful to have a criterion by which we can
make an educated guess which way to go.
to as building a practice. The enemy of this is fickleness, lack of
consistency, discipline, and (lack of) time management. A practice
cannot be built without the foregoing in mind. This is not so unlike
anything else we may do in life, whether it be sports, dance, singing,
acting, or scholarly endeavors, and so forth.
Thought for the Day: March 26, 2017
are still able to attain a high degree of realization by simple observation of
the everyday world. After all, before religious traditions were founded and
organized there were spiritual pioneers who did just that.

The simplest way to get a clue at what the so called “spiritual” nature of the
mind is like, without engaging in any spiritual/religious practices, would be
to contemplate how a mother carries a child and brings him/her into the
world and serves him. Telling here is the moment of birth, when the mother
forgets her own pain completely and only thinks of the welfare of her child.
This completely unselfish behavior, not thinking of one’s own welfare, but
putting the welfare of another first, is a truly altruistic and compassionate
attitude of mind, that in that moment, reflects the minds true nature.
Moreover, a mother during the time of her pregnancy and while raising the
child had the child’s welfare first in her mind. This attitude of love,
compassion, and selfless dedication portrayed in the relationship between
mother and child depicts well what so called “dharma” practice develops,
when practiced correctly under the guidance of a realized teacher.

Not all of us are inclined to go to a realized teacher. There can be many
Thought for the Day: March 28, 2017

If you can’t learn from an ordinary person, how could you ever learn from
a wise one?
                              * * *                                                   

Skill in time management is good when your managing your time, but that