Yoga postures were developed for making the body fit for meditation.
Many Buddhist texts, particularly tantra, are illustrated with drawings
showing yoga postures. In ancient India some made perfecting the
postures their entire spiritual practice, while in Buddhism it is primarily
taught as a supporting practice. There are not many areas where we can
borrow as beneficially from the Hindu system as we can from their
highly developed yoga postures, often called “asanas.”

While meditation may be our primary practice, in order to meditate well
we should be free of stress, physical tension, body pain, and so forth.
Yoga postures make us healthy and fit by aligning the body, stretching it
and making it pliant, increasing circulation and energy, protecting against
depression, and so forth.

All of us who make meditation our practice should introduce yoga into
our routine, if we haven’t already done so.  

                    * * *
Thought of the Day: October 2,  2017

Likes and dislikes are unreliable indicators of what we should do and
should not do. Likes and dislikes are conditioned by our past actions,
which in turn were probably governed by likes and dislikes, and if we
continue the pattern we can get stuck in a groove that can hinder our
growth.

An effective way to decide the course of actions is reasoning. Often
opportunities come our way that seem very good, but we fail to take
them because of resistance to step into unfamiliar territory. We would
rather be stuck in our groove.

Our lives are not static but continually changing. Circumstances change,
we change both physically and emotionally, and our needs in turn
change.  While the stability of a groove may be good most of the time,
we must recognize when we are stuck and not fear changing our pattern
if something promising offers itself.

                    * * *
Thought of the Day: October 3,  2017

A consistent meditation practice is sort of like a drop of water falling on
a rock. Day by day it doesn’t seem to be having any effect, but over
months and years a single drop can wear away the rock completely.
Sometimes mediation practice can be discouraging because its effects
are not apparent and we may find ourselves wondering whether we
should continue or not. This is where we should have faith in the
process. Our mind should be focused on the process and learning how
to enjoy meditation itself.
Meditation may require effort in the beginning and we will find
ourselves having to place the mind on our meditation topic, be it a
mantra, visualization, or philosophical inquiry. But, if we are disciplined
and consistent, meditation becomes like a magnet and draws us into it.
So, let us keep results on a distant horizon and focus on keeping a
disciplined and consistent practice.

                            * * *

Thought of the Day: October 4,  2017

Blissful experiences while meditating are often-psychic states and sutras,
such as the Shurangama, repeatedly warn us to guard against them If
we mistake psychic states for insight and become attached to the state, it
will become a obstacle. Therefore we are taught not to attach to psychic
states.
Insight arises from knowledge whereas psychic states are either
accidental or self-induced. A blissful state arisen from knowledge and
wholesome, will become unwholesome if we attach to it and try to
repeat it. So, there is that danger as well.
A good policy is to let go of any blissful meditation experiences, and to
refrain from putting forth effort to duplicate them.

                              * * *
Thought of the Day: October 5,  2017

It is said in the Avatamsaka Sutra that “all living beings have the
Buddha nature, being one with all beings, just this is great compassion.”
In our busy and stressful lives, we sometimes forget that other’s needs
are no different than our own. If we take this thought a step further and
begin acknowledging them as such, and try to fulfill the wishes of
others, it will help to remove some of the stress of our own lives.
To a certain extent we can all live vicariously through others when we
help them fulfil a wish they might not be able to fulfil on their own.
This is the gift of giving. Recognizing the needs of others helps us
become less needy ourselves and therefor more content. Stress is caused
by many reasons, but more than we may realize it is caused by our
selfish ambitions.

A good place to start releasing ourselves of selfishness is to look at our
own wants and desires and see if perhaps we could let something go
and give that same thing or opportunity to someone else. If we can,
then the joy we give to them we can also share with them.

Giving can begin with small gestures at first, rather than giving too
much and regret it later. We want to form the habit of giving, and it is
far more likely we will if we begin well within what is comfortable.
Everyone has something to give, whether it is material wealth, time,
friendship, and so forth, when opportunities come our way to give of
ourselves, we should count the other’s need as our own as best we can.
If everyone practiced this, we would have a happier world.

                              * * *
Thought of the Day: October 6,  2017

No one enjoys being angry, jealous, greedy, or having other disturbing
emotions, but the fact is we do. It is also true that we try to control
these emotions when they arise. If we have an outburst of anger, or a
bout with jealousy, and so forth, we try to control it. Sometimes we are
successful and sometimes we are not.

Once the fire has turned into a blaze it is difficult to put out, it is far
better to prevent a fire. The same is true with our disturbing emotions.
It is far better to preempt their arousal,  than deal with them when we
are already entangled.

                             * * *

Thought of the Day: October 7,  2017


All disturbing emotions arise because of attachment and desire; so,
separating ourselves from their causes, will assure that they don’t visit
us. Rooting out our attachments to people, things, and events and
reducing seeking outwardly and increasing seeking inwardly will go a
long way towards reducing our afflictive emotions.
October 7, 2017
Finding the time t meditate is not as good as making the time to
meditate. Meditation is a discipline that should have its own allotted
time and amount of time. If we respect ourselves, we will make a
schedule for our meditation practice and stick to it.

                             * * *
Thought of the Day: October 8, 2017

Meditation is an attitude of mind that does not fit the framework of
good and bad or any other polarized categorization. Meditation is an all-
embracing attitude that embraces all our thoughts and emotions, likes
and dislikes, feelings, projections, memories, and so forth.

Meditation is learning to leave ourselves alone and rest in awareness.
Unlike torpor or daydreaming, our mind is sharp and alert and yet not
busy or dull. When we meditate we should not make the mind this way
or that but rather let it rest as it is and not interfere. Staying out of our
own way may take a bit of effort and resisting the temptation to engage
with our thoughts is not easy, but with practice, we will gradually,
become absorbed in the mind just as it is, free of any conceptual
elaboration.

                             * * *

Thought of the Day: October 9,  2017

Our spiritual practice should include protecting our environment, for
after all, without Mother Nature’s support, we could not sustain
ourselves. Mother Nature supports and protects us, but she also needs
our protection and support.

Committing to the environment should begin in a small way by doing
little things that reflect a sensitivity towards preserving nature rather than
any overarching efforts that tax and discourage us. Small things like
reusing plastic bags, water bottles, recycling, and making an effort to
purchasing whole rather than packaged foods, and so forth, are habits
that cannot be abruptly adopted in a big way, or they will not last. Our
lofty goals must begin with our feet on the ground.

Reducing our environmental footprint will require some thought and
sacrifice and we want to do this in an intelligent and cautious way. If we
are careless and rushed, we will be fickle and inconsistent, sometimes
adhering to our environmental concerns, while at other times discarding
them. It is far better to begin as a small environmentalist and gradually
grow bigger, than make a sudden commitment that cannot be sustained.
We should begin with a few things that we are not doing to protect the
environment, and start doing them, and gradually introduce new things.
The idea is to be in it for the long haul and make a difference that we
can sustain, rather than overburden ourselves and become discouraged
by trying too hard.

                             * * *

Serving others is an excellent escape from selfishness. If we put others
first, our own needs will be taken care of as a by-product of that effort,
advises H H Dalai Lama. Caring for the needs of others is a source of
great happiness. Others are limitless, but we are only one; so naturally, it
follows that the satisfaction of making others happy far exceeds seeking
our personal needs.

Learning to live with less is an effective way to become more sensitive
to the way we might benefit others. When we live well within our
resources, with our desires well checked, we will naturally recognize
when a friend or family member needs support. Providing for others by
giving of our time, material assistance, or simply thoughtful words, is
difficult when we are overly concerned with our own ambitions.

If we pay more attention to the needs of those about us, we will attract
whatever we need, as well. Begin with small steps in that direction, and
increase your efforts well within your comfort zone. A gradual and
well-sustained effort to be more aware of the needs of others and
fulfilling those needs is better than overdoing it at the beginning and
becoming discouraged. A well-balanced effort will transform our
selfishness into selflessness.
                             * * *
Thought of the Day: October 12, 2017

Many find meditation too difficult for a variety of reasons: it is boring,
no time, I feel body pain, I don’t know how, and so forth. It is the last
reason, not knowing how that we will focus on here.

There are so many books on meditation written in recent years, in
addition to ancient scriptures, that many may feel overwhelmed with
information, especially those wishing to begin a practice. But, if we take
a moment to examine the lives of many masters, there practice of
meditation was often very simple.

The difficulty of meditation practice does not generally exist in the
mechanics of the practice, as it does in its execution. For example, the
Chinese master Han Shan, sat by a small waterfall for twelve years
listening to its sound. He had made a small hut beside it and lived there
and made the sound of the fall his meditation topic. At the end of
twelve years he had attained enlightenment.

The execution of master Han Shan’s meditation was not difficult, but
its execution was. Listening to a waterfall is something we can all do.
But, listening to it like master Han Shan did required, dedication, faith,
focus, and because he had the qualities, master Han Shan succeeded.

Another good meditation is simply watching the breath and being
mindful of the in-breath when it is going in, and labeling it as such, and
being mindful of the out-breath when it is going out, and labeling it as
such. It may seem very simple, but in practice we will find ourselves
labeling the out-breath as the “in-breath” and visa-versa. However, with
dedication, faith, and devotion, we will become increasingly mindful
and eventually succeed.

All of us who wish to meditate should pick a simple practice, and focus
on the execution with faith, dedication, and focus, and not make the
technique itself more difficult than it is. If we do this we won’t be
disappointed.


                                 * * *

Thought of the Day: October 13, 2017

It is irrelevant how many people agree on a particular viewpoint.
Agreement creates a social force—people think their tradition and their
viewpoint are very pure, very correct, and become defensive about
them. This does not prove anything. Any viewpoint formulated
intellectually, created by an ordinary consciousness, is bound to be
erroneous.

Norbu, Thinley. Echoes: The Boudhanath Teachings. Shambhala.
Kindle Edition.

“advanced” initiations and teachings, can be a life-long effort that will
take us far further on our journey to enlightenment than we may realize.

While the temptation is great to attend teachings that instruct us in the
use of mantras, breath mastery, mandala visualizations and so forth, we
should be cautious not do neglect the importance of preliminary
disciplines which will provide the necessary foundation to support
meditation training.

Preliminary disciplines include moral and ethical trainings, maintaining
vows, reciting praises to the Buddha and our teacher, performing
prostrations to purify negative karma and create a humble attitude
conducive to meditation practice, disciplined eating and drinking,
frugality, service to others, study of the codes of conduct, making
monetary offerings to support our teacher and dharma center, and
uprooting our attachments and desires that are sources of afflictive
emotions.

Underestimating the potency of preliminary practices is a common
mistake we can make as novices, but the fact is, that if we study the
lives of those who have advanced their training and obtained realization,
they have not done so without first building a firm foundation in the
preliminaries. Indeed, many accomplished masters have attained
realization without going beyond the preliminaries, making perfecting
preliminary practice their life-long goal.

As ordinary people entering the path, our success will depend on a
humble and careful approach and making ourselves knowledgeable of
the intricacies of the path through study and reflection. If we attend to
the minute details of the journey, we will not fail to complete it.
                             * * *
Thought of the Day: October 15, 2017

Meditation is often not the best way to lift our spirits when we are
feeling low. A better way is the recitation of praises to the Buddhas and
Bodhisattvas, but amongst Buddhists this practice is not often thought
The recitation of the Buddhas names and singing hymns, and chanting
scripture aloud, is the best way to fill the heart with joy.  Most
Westerners who meditate do not engage in this practice enough. If it is
integrated into every meditation routine we will find it an excellent
support for meditation. Recitation creates the perfect attitude of mind
to serve as a basis for focusing our on our meditation topic.

                             * * *
Thought of the Day: October 16, 2017
I was struck by the words of a close friend, Robby, who I was visiting
recently. He had just returned from a week car trip to visit old friends
and made the remark, “friends are my real treasure.”

His remark echoed thoughts I have had often regarding the people in
my life. One thing I also noticed about Robby is his ability to appreciate
the unique qualities of complete strangers. He often goes into detail
about how someone accomplished a task, or something interesting they
may have said, and so forth.

I believe our ability to be happy is closely linked with the way we regard
the people in our lives and our ability to appreciate unique qualities and
perspective when we see them. Others are a source of great joy. If we
are self-centered, our joy is limited to one; but if we take joy in others,
our capacity to rejoice in others is limitless. Robby always seems to be
happy, and I am sure his ability to appreciate others is one of the
reasons.
                             * * *

The people that we rely on in our lives and those who in turn who rely
on us are like a chain and can only be as strong as the weakest link.
Therefore, we should try and uplift those who are weak so that we can
all become stronger.

In the Manangi community, a Nepalese ethnic group, they make it a
community effort to help those who are struggling financially or with
other problems so that the Manangi community as a whole is stronger.
If one member in the community is in difficulty, they realize that it
effects the way others will perceive the Manangi community as a whole
and they take steps to remedy the situation. We can all learn something
from this and apply the same principle on a micro-family level, or extend
it to include others in our community.

                             * * *
Thought of the Day: October 17, 2017

Soon will be the holiday season, a time when friends and family come
together and enjoy warmhearted time together. But, it is also a time
when we should be mindful that others may be lonely or without
friends. Often elderly, sick, and newcomers to our neighborhoods are
lonely and whatever kindness we may offer is deeply appreciated.

We are social beings and need warmth and companionship. Christ has
said that we should treat others as our brothers and sisters and the
Buddha said that since the endless rounds of rebirth we have at some
point been a mother, father, sister, brother to each other, and should,
therefore, treat each other with the kindness we would offer a family
member.

The holiday season is an excellent time to reach beyond our family and
friends and express and share basic human feelings, at work, or school,
the gym, or anywhere we may happen to be. Church or a dharma center
is the prominent place to begin, but our effort should not stop there. We
might even organize some friends to go “caroling” at hospitals and
homes for the elderly. With a little imagination, we should quickly find a
way to make someone truly happy. An opportunity exists for all of us to
expand our circle of season’s friendship, caring, kindness, and
thoughtfulness to those who may not be with friends and family this
holiday season.
                                       * * *

Thought for the Day: October 19, 2017

Laziness leads to depression; it is not its cause. Be active and work hard;
you don’t have to be right, but try.  That is all we need to keep our
spirits high.
                             * * *
Thought of the Day: October 20, 2017

The kindred souls who populate our lives as friends may be the most
enjoyable company, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best
“friends.” It is not always the case that the people whom we get along
and need to develop.

As a novice monk, I often observed that the abbot of our monastery,
Master Hsuan Hua, put people who had antagonistic relationships
together for work projects and monastic assignments. Whether we live
in a monastery or live as laypeople, the fact remains the same that there
are fundamental qualities we all need to develop to be good human
beings, patience, carefulness, the absence of anger, and so forth. It
doesn’t require advanced logic or a big stretch of our imagination to see
that people who rub us the wrong way may actually help us develop
these qualities better than people we get along with.

Our good friends are irreplaceable, of course, but where most of us
need work is in recognizing the value of not only tolerating those we
don’t do so well with but actively including them in our circle of friends.
Doing so will have many advantages.
                                    
                                  * * *
Thought of the Day: October 21, 2017

Never hang a “Vacant” sign on your mind, or it will be quickly
populated with random and scattered thoughts. Always keep the mind
engaged, even if it something as simple as what an optimum diet would
look like, a friend who has good qualities, a philosophical quandary,
basically anything that is positive and we have an interest in. Doing so
preempts thoughts that could lead to anger, jealousy, greed, and other
disturbing emotions.
                                                   
                                         * * *

Mindfulness is not reserved for the so-called “spiritual.” Mindfulness is
something that all of us can practice, although some are more aware of
practicing it than others. Being mindful is just being aware of what we
are doing, when we are doing it, “being aware,” in the restrictive sense.
It is knowing what we are doing when we are doing it with our mind
not wandering elsewhere.

When we are stressed, the very definition of stress precludes
mindfulness. Stress arises when we are pulled in different direction, we
are off to do one thing, and other things come to mind, we add that,
and something else comes to mind, and so forth, Whenever this
happens, we need to simplify our lives, because we cannot do it by
resolving to be less stressful without action to back it up.

Mindfulness brings contentment. When we can rest our mind on what
we are doing, we find in what we are doing a source of joy and
satisfaction. Doing actions single-mindedly allows those activities to act
as a mirror into our mind, revealing any mental confusion about our
lives, and possible remedies, and so forth.

One of the main reasons we cultivate mindfulness is to remove
obstacles to enlightenment, and when we simplify our lives and allow
mindfulness, we become increasingly aware of ways to be more astute
and less confused concerning the direction our lives should be going.
Mindfulness is one of the most potent aids towards self-realization, and
we should all be practicing it.

                                   * * *
Thought of the Day: October 25, 2017

Learning how to prioritize work, study, reflection, and meditation, is a
necessary aspect of the spiritual path. The less unnecessary activities
that fill our day, the easier it will be to prioritize. Meditation, study,
reflection are no different from work, family time, and exercise in that
they require a time schedule. Consistency works.

                                     * * *
Thought of the Day: October 26, 2017

Time will not pass more productively by getting more done, but by
getting less done better.
                                    * * *

People, no matter how much we love and care about them, cannot be
taught the Dharma if they have no interest. And, even if people have an
interest, they cannot be influenced to grow faster than they wish. The
Buddha taught a good rule of thumb regarding teaching others, and that
is “teach when asked.”

It is a common phenomenon amongst dharma practitioners to try to
influence others to do as they are doing, but, when we wish to teach
others are we motivated by a concern for others or a wish to teach.
Being genuinely concerned for others’ welfare is good, but expressing
that interest is not easy. People are suspicious of us when we try to
teach them, and they have every right to be. To them, we may sound
like salesmen marketing goods. They have no way of knowing our
motivation.

If we wish to influence others, unless they ask, the best way is by our
example. People who practice the dharma and have a warmhearted
attitude toward others and are happy and cheerful. When people notice
our cheerful attitude they will gradually become curious and inquire
how we maintain an unanimous and cheerful attitude. When others
approach us, they are like a field ripe for planting and capable of
absorbing what we have to say, and what we say will take root in their
fertile minds

                                                  * * *
Thought of the Day: October 28 2017

While it is important to have good people to show us the way, it is also
important that we become self-directed, as well. If we merely follow
what others are doing, the joy and enthusiasm to practice the dharma
will be lacking. If we don’t delight in dharma practice, we won’t endure
for the long haul. So, we must do our own study, reflection, and
meditation, so we feel enthusiastic about the path we are on.

Teachers delight in a student that finds ways to implement the
teachings and become less reliant on him. If we are members of a
sangha, our sangha is stronger if its members are self-motivated and
enthusiastic.

In the beginning, it takes time to find our place in the dharma, and it is
OK to follow others. But, as our association with the Dharma matures,
we must work harder to get to the point that we feel it as if the dharma
were a magnet pulling us towards it. In other words, in the beginning,
until our knowledge grows, we will have to place our mind on the
teachings and work to practice them, but if we are sincere our interest
will be less contrived and artificial, and the dharma will naturally attract
and engage us. To get to this point is hard work, but worth the effort.
                                                  * * *
Thought of the Day: October 29, 2017

Internalizing what we read requires rereading many times and reflecting
on what we study. Dharma Masters have often taken a single text as
their entire life study. Accumulating a lot of facts won’t  help us be
happy deep inside. Facts by themselves are not very satisfying. We
must reach beneath intellectual knowledge and feel the truth of our
studies and a warmhearted feeling towards everyone.

The dharma is as vast as the sea, but there is a considerable amount of
overlap. Therefore, if we study and reflect on one or two authentic
teachings of the Buddha, we are likely to grasp the meaning of many
texts. If we are patient with ourselves, reading and rereading until we
feel we are getting beneath the surface, that is all we have to do.

                                                  * * *

If we enjoy good health and use our body, speech, and mind to do
good things, then it is likely we will continue enjoying good health.
Good physical health is intimately connected with our actions. Being a
helpful, dependable, and reliable friend to others, having a positive
attitude, being sensitive to others needs, are the kinds of qualities and
attitudes that promote physical wellbeing and long life.

Those who are self-centered and materialistic, greedy for things, and
selfish, will be far off the mark for generating the kind of positive
attitudes and actions that promote good health. Selfishness and greed
are negative and cause our physical body to suffer, as well.
Sometimes we overlook the importance of how our mental attitudes
and actions affect our physical wellbeing. These we must pay attention
physical health.

                                                * * *

Thought of the Day: October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween Everyone!!!

Afflictive mind consciousness can be ended through leading a life that
generates positive consequences. Afflictions do not have to be focused
on directly, but rather we should understand that they are addressed as
a bi-product of good actions and the accumulation of merit.

                                                * * *