Multi-Tasking

Multi-tasking when within the framework of the overall task at hand does
not weary the mind so much as when we multi-task within incongruous
activities. We should try our best to stay within related objectives when
we multi-task. This will prevent our mind from being pulled in many
directions and feeling burdened and distracted.

                                           * * *

                                        Craving

Craving causes us to look towards something while grasping causes us to
try and keep that which wants to go. Both apply to material objects,
people, and thoughts and mental states.

When craving grips us we forget to count what we have, and our sights
are set on something else; this is like eying dessert while the meal in front
of us is still hot. We won't enjoy the mouthful we are chewing, if our
thoughts are darting towards dessert. If we pay attention to our mental
states carefully, we will notice similar mechanics underlying much of our
thinking throughout the day, and it undermines our contentment which is
so important for happiness. We can uproot this tendency through
continuous mindfulness throughout the day, never being lax, and
maintaining alertness.

Grasping is trying to hold on to something that is ripe to leave. This is
especially true of mental/emotional states, but can apply to people and
material possessions, as well. We want a moment of blissful stillness to
last until our meditation is over, or the joyfulness of a good day to
continue to the next, or relive any fine past moment. But, as soon as we
grasp at whatever it is, it is certain that we are forgetting ourselves,
without which the experience could not have occurred to begin with. We
are the root of all experiences, and yet are holding onto branches!

The moral of the story is, don't chase after what doesn't come your way
naturally, and don't hold onto anything that wants to be free.


                                             * * *
                                 Good Company

A person who cannot enjoy being alone, cannot be good company.

                                          * * *

                      Knowing How You Project Yourself

We can know ourselves well by paying attention to how others regard
us. If we receive pleasant glances from others, we are more than likely
having a pleasant comportment ourselves. If others frown as they see
us, we are probably frowning ourselves. If others look at us pitifully, we
are probably reflecting sadness. If we attract smiles, we probably appear
happy and upbeat. People we pass by throughout the day, are little
mirrors that if paid attention to can help us to recognize positive and
negative attitudes we have, and inspire us to abandon unwholesome
ones, and embrace the favorable ones and cause them to increase.
Seeing oneself through others is a great way to see oneself.

                                         * * *

                          Give Wisely, Within Means

If you are always giving to others, keeping nothing for yourself, you will
soon have nothing to give to others. Being too idealistic in one's giving,
the chief reason that businesses fail is extending themselves too much.
People fail in their effort to benefit others for the same reason. Although
giving is good, and being of service to others is good, one must not do so
while completely ignoring ones own needs. In serving others, for
example, it is pointed out by Shantideva, author of the renowned "Way of
the Bodhisattva," that it is important to know when to withdraw, and
rest,
so that one is able to return with greater enthusiasm and strength.

The same principle applies to individual practice. If we want to become
enlightened, we cannot do so by working beyond our natural capacity,
any
more than we can make grass grow faster by pulling it. We must grow at
our own pace, and humbly recognize that that may be very slow. But,
even if we are not endowed with supreme karma, we should remember
that a slow and steady effort within one's abilities will accomplish our
aims in due course.

Those individuals who try too hard in their individual practice, or try to
give too much of themselves to others, failing to recognize their capacity,
will become discouraged in short order. It is a kind of greed that
motivates one to do more good than is within ones capabilities. "The
world is paved with good intentions" is a saying that points this out. If
worldly wisdom recognizes the problem, how much the more so should
we as dharma practitioners.

                                       * * *

                             Constructive Criticism
.
If criticism is necessary, it should always be done in a constructive way
that opens a door, rather than create discouragement. This is often not
is coming from anger, impatience, hatred, and so forth, it is unlikely that
we will see a skillful way to instruct another. We should wait until our
out the antidote. If we come from a frank and loving place, those we
instruct

If we simply decide not to get involved, especially with a friend or
family member, this is just a form of anger and resentment manifesting.
If we care about someone, we don't want to shut them off, but rather
draw them in, create understanding, and dissolve issues. We always want
to deepen our relationship with others because these relationships are
very important to our own growth and happiness, more important than
we may realize. Treasure all relationships and make others feel valued.

                                    * * *

                        Recognizing the Enemy

Happy Birthday; Sister Laura! I dedicate today's thought to my
sister, who turned sixty-nine today.

When life takes wicked turns and harms us physically or mentally,
if robbed, beaten, abused, slandered, cheated, abandoned, if we get
angry at the perpetrator it is like being angry at a stick instead of
the one who wields it. For, the person who harms another is not in
control; but rather controlled by anger, hate, jealousy, greed, and
other disturbing emotions. He is no different from and is not
master of himself. Therefore, when we come in harms way, it is
the anger, the hate, the greed, and so forth, that we should isolate
and blame, and not the bearer of the harm. If we can do that, we
will carry no ill will towards another.

                                              * * *

                                        Weariness

If we ever feel weary and discouraged, we should reflect and ask
ourselves whether or not we have been respectful to the people in
our lives. If we have not been vigilant in our conduct with others,
it can be a cause of weariness, fatigue, and discouragement.
Honoring others will lift our spirits as much as there's. Although
others may try our patience, if we keep it, we grow strong
inwardly. There is no spiritual vitamin pill like patience. Use it.

                                      * * *
                                Time Passes

Life accelerates very rapidly as you grow older, and I figured out one
reason. It is all about percentages. When you are ten, a three-year period
lifetime. But at fifty years old, three years would only represent about a
sixteenth of your lifetime. And, at eighty, three years would only be
about a twenty-seventh. So, value your years while you have them, and
don't hesitate to meditate.

                                     * * *

                         Mantra and Reasoning

Mantra recitation is a valuable aid to calm a busy mind, but once
calmed, we can use reasoning to see its nature.

                                     * * *
                                     Root Guru

Often I have been asked "What is a root guru?" A root guru is guru" is
like a mother cares for her child, and any pain we suffer, or any ill we
do, hurts our root guru as much as a misbehaved child or child in pain
hurts his mother. The only one who could possibly love us more than
our mother or make bigger sacrifices for us is our "root guru." When
you have a "root guru" you know it as surely as you know you have a
mother.

If we don't have a "root guru," we need not rush to find one, and in
fact it is better that we don't. We should be very patient and find a
teacher that we are comfortable with in respect to their purity, lineage,
and teachings. A "root guru" will require a very deep commitment
from us, so we must be sure we are willing to commit. If we have
doubts, we must wait until we are sure. It is better not to commit, than
commit and break off relationship with a guru.

                                        * * *

                                       Love

"Love" is quite a word. It is one of those words used with such varied
depth of meaning that by itself it cannot stand. Yet, love is the binding
deepen our understanding of it. We tend to think too much and love
built into them by virtue of their sex which allows them to carry a child
and bring it into the world. There is no other sacrifice that is higher
than a mother makes for her child. In fact, one way a man can increase
his capacity to love is to contemplate the love his mother has shown
him.

If we don't feel a sense of universal love and responsibility to those
outside our family and friends, we should look for it because it is there
within for us to find it. Just because we don't feel it, does not mean it
is not there. The spark is there, somewhere, and can bring us closer to
our fellow human beings and ignite within us a genuine altruistic
attitude. This attitude is generated by realizing it is already there within
us and increasing our awareness of it through contemplation and
meditation. We need not bring in anything from outside.

                                      * * *

                               Divine Pride

Confronting our obstacles takes courage and this courage arises from
what is sometimes called "Divine Pride." This pride arises through the
cultivation of faith in our potential, virtuous deeds, keeping disciplines,
particularly precepts, and other aspects of the path of dharma. It will
not just appear by itself, it must be cultivated. If we just meditate, it is
unlikely to arise. Foundational practice is necessary.

When we serve others and bring them happiness, we naturally feel
good about ourselves. If we maintain disciplines, a pride arises as a
result. Disciplines require sacrifice and we naturally feel better about
ourselves if we manage to maintain them. When afflictive emotions
such as anger, hate, lust, and greed are brought under control, we feel
an inner strength arise and this is a source of wholesome pride.

All of us have a certain amount of helpful pride and unhelpful pride
and we should make an effort to increase that which is wholesome and
beneficial and decrease what is not. The right kind of pride can support
us on the path.

                                        * * *

                                   Self  Doubt

"Doubt" is a sickness that erodes all worthy efforts to better oneself.
Don't invite it.

                                       * * *

                              Mindfullness

Thoughts are either running us over, dragging us around or our servants,
carrying us along. In this sense, they are like a wheel, which we can be
beneath, turned round and round on, or put to use to carry us along.

It is not easy to be in control of what we are doing, yet in theory, it seems
that it should be. Meditation can serve to highlight the difficulty we
experience in our active lives there. It seems, for example, that  watching
the breath go in and out, and labeling the in-breath as an in breath, and
the out-breath as an out breath, or holding a mantra without being
interrupted by discursive thought should be easy, but we all know that it
isn't. Even in meditation, we often feel as if tapped on the shoulder and a
little voice asking where our mantra went as we are caught up in
discursive thought, or why we are saying we are breathing in when in fact
we are breathing out. If while in seated meditation we cannot maintain
mindfulness, we certainly will not be able to do so in active life.

Meditation helps us be more keenly aware of what is going on outside of
the context of meditation per se. We become more sensitive to our mind
drifting towards distraction, chasing after attractions, unnecessarily, and
being sidetracked by others. Meditation's primary focus is not only to
make our so-called spiritual world better, but rather to make our ordinary
active lives better, more enjoyable and productive. Meditation is a kind of
laboratory that allows us to study the mind without the movement of the
body which can be so tiring and obstructive. In stillness, through
meditation, we can make our active lives better.

                                     * * *

                     A Daughter’s Qualities

Today is my younger daughter, Mudra's, birthday and it is natural for me
to reflect on her many good qualities. As a young child, her teacher once
remarked that it was my daughter who would always try her best to
include any children shunned or left out by others into the group. She
always looked for ways to lift up those who were rejected by others, or,
out of shyness or low self-esteem, felt inferior to others and sought to be
a loner as a solution.

Mudra was always content in her skin and self-assured. Her contentment
rubbed off on others and attracted many to her. Her confidence has
allowed her to be a support to others and be self-directed.  The pitfall of
this is stubbornness, a pitfall she does a pretty good job of avoiding. She
takes pride in right action and does her best to bring herself up to the task
of reaching a goal that may seem out of reach. If she fails, she is not
burdened by failure, but rather seeks out the next challenge. She is
energetic, yet knows well the importance of rest, when to lay a task aside,
the better to return.

Mudra knows her worth and treasures herself. And, she does all this
without being arrogant, and that is difficult indeed. She strives to
recognize her faults without being burdened by them. She sees them as
opportunities to be better and works to take her responsibilities to task.
She knows it is more realistic to be better, than perfect. She does the best
she can, and is done with it.

Happy Birthday, Mudra. Keep up the good work. And be happy always.

                            Love Dad
                     Useful Fables

Some people criticize certain schools within Buddhism as pure fable or
myth. However, they are often unaware that many prominent Buddhist
would be happy to agree with them. The point is not whether a teaching
is a myth or fable, but rather whether it brings about beneficial results.
Throughout history many myths and fables have prevented children
from wandering into dangerous places like forests inhabited by wild
animals or dangerous snakes, and so forth. If a so-called religious myth
might keep people from harming others, lying, stealing, cheating, and so
forth, what difference does it make if the myth is true or not. If the
desired results are gained, then what is the harm in believing in myths?

     * * *


                        Meditation

There is no better hobby than delving into the nature of one's mind.
This is an investigation that grows in interest day by day and requires no
external supports, travelling, reservations, tickets, tools, and so forth. It
only requires commitment, and that commitment is not to someone
else, but to ourselves. It is the most sacred of sacred unions, and if we
are steadfast in our commitment, there is virtually no limit to the depth
of our experience.

All living beings have one thing in common; we all desire happiness.
Whether we seek happiness in relationships, material things,
accomplishments, status, and so forth, whatever happiness we
experience is a product of our mind. The illusion that things offer
happiness is a distortion of our mind. We create this distortion by our
thinking. We use thought to impute upon a car, for example, its ability
to give us happiness. Without such an imputation, a particular car could
not present itself as a source of happiness.

Many hundreds of years ago wise people began to wonder what would
happen if they did not empower things to make them happy. They
developed ways to dissolve thought back into itself, in effect, not
allowing thought to get tangled up with objects and thereby creating
attachments to material things. The consequence of their effort resulted
in the discovery of a sense of being happy within, without external
support. And in this way, the science of mind and meditation developed.

We should always remind ourselves that happiness comes from the
mind, whether it seems to or not. We must convince ourselves by
experiencing the mind's nature directly. We do this through disciplined
meditation practice just like the early pioneers did. Once the mind
engages our attention, it will become a magnet attracting us without
effort. This effortless meditation requires effort, however, and time,
both of which will pay us back many fold. If we treasure ourselves, we
will not miss this opportunity.
                   


Thought of the Day: April 17, 2016

Their hopeless craving brings them misery,
And evil schemes invade their minds,
While those with free, untrammeled hearts,
Will never know an end of excellence.

Therefore for the increase of my body’s wants,
I’ll give no space, no opportunity.
And of possessions, those things are the best
That do not captivate by their attractiveness.

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

Thought of the Day: April 19, 2016

If you disciple yourself and content yourself with things that don't excite
the mind by their attractiveness, in time you will grow to love those
things in a pure way that does not create attachment.

                 * * *

Keep good company and be good company. Nothing stimulates the the
people that will make a difference in our lives. Conversely, we should
teach by example, and be the best we can be to support those who look
up to us and are fellow cultivators on the path to enlightenment.
                
                * *  *

Thought of the Day: April 25, 2016

Each person experiences different phenomena as the result of past
karma, and thus the suffering and happiness that arise from our
individual karma are also as far apart as heaven and earth. Even among
a family of three who live in the same house and always eat together,
each person’s experiences will be markedly different: one might have
auspicious dreams at night and enjoy good health, while another might
suffer from endless nightmares, physical discomfort, and mental
unease. No matter who they are or how intimately they are related, no
two people can possibly share the same experience. Where do these
myriad and strange experiences of suffering and happiness ultimately
come from? They are not caused by external objects; they originate
from our mind.

Phuntsok, Jigme: Always Present: The Luminous Wisdom of Jigme
Phuntsok  Shambhala Publications.
Thought of the Day: April 26, 2016

There are no accidents; nothing happens without a reason. Whether on
a mountain peak or in a hole, we put ourselves there. In all our actions
we should consider where our intention is pointing before setting out.
Once on the way, it's hard to change course, so care at the beginning of
an initiative is care well spent.
                
                * *  *
Think straight like an arrow, speak direct to the point unless there
isn't                                 * *  *

Thought of the Day: April 28, 2016

If someone does not follow his own advice they certainly will not
follow yours. When others seek advice always ask them what they
think. Pry it out of them if you must because nine times out of ten the
correct way is one they are already aware of. Reinforce that and you
have done your part.
             * *  *

Thought of the Day: April 29, 2016

Although not one of them is equal
To the Buddhas, who are oceans of perfection,
Because they have a share in bringing forth enlightenment,

Shantideva  The Way of the Bodhisattva: Revised Edition,  Shambhala
Publications.
             
                         * *  *
came into the world, and we would be able to take it with us when we
die.
Since we can do neither, we should never miss an opportunity to be
generous. The mere fact that we are in a position to give is a blessing.  If
you look at a fat bank account as a source of happiness, it will turn into a
curse as the money stagnates and pickles you in an artificial sense of
security. Circulate whatever it is you have and you will always have
something to give.

* *  *
Contrived dispositions are felt as such by others and have the opposite
effect that we would wish. If we try to be kind to another, but don't feel
it
are insincere in some other way. Or, if we are generous outwardly, but
regret giving inwardly or feel compelled to give, but would rather not, our
giving will not make us or the other feel as good as it might have
otherwise if we had come from the heart.

The way to develop true feelings is not when put on the spot, but
through
meditation on kindness and generosity, and so forth when our disposition
is neutral. We cultivate good qualities through meditation of their benefits
and must develop them over time, and they will gradually be second
nature.

* *  *

Thought of the Day: May 3, 2016

Today, indeed, I’m hale and well,
I have enough to eat and I am not in danger.
But this life is fleeting, unreliable,
My body is like something briefly lent.

And yet the way I act is such
That I shall not regain a human life!
And losing this, my precious human form,
My evils will be many, virtues none.

Here is now my chance for wholesome deeds,
But if I fail to practice virtue,
What will be my lot, what shall I do,
Bewildered by the sorrows of the lower realms?

Shantideva  The Way of the Bodhisattva: Revised Edition  Shambhala
Publications.
Thought of the Day: May 4, 2016
There is enough confusion in the world without adding to it by following
instructions.

* *  *

If we are not proactive and engage our mind, it will lead us in many
directions, leading nowhere in the end. Vain musing lulls the mind and
analytical skills and the power of reasoning, both of which will
disentangle
us from afflictive emotions and confusion.

A Hindu master, Sri Yukteshvar, the guru of Paramahansa Yogananda,
(who ironically brought many to Buddhism, and other faiths, as well)
said:
"Think, think, think, all the time."  What he means is that we should
actively engage the mind, not passively be led around by it. If you have to
wonder what to think about, just catch hold of any wandering thought,
jealousy, for example, and reflect on its consequences. Or, if you feel
happy that someone succeeded in an ambition, reflect on the benefits of
taking joy in the happiness of others. There is no shortage of things to
think about; the problem is that we habitually let thoughts pass
unexamined, and never take the time necessary to unravel them in a way
that is meaningful to us.

In each and every thought is an opportunity. Take it. If someone asks
you: "What are you thinking?" you should never allow yourself to be in a
position where "I don't know," or, "Nothing," is the only answer that
comes to mind. The mind is unique in the fact that it never grows tired
of
thinking, but rather becomes wearied by not thinking. The more you put
it
to use, the more capable and eager it becomes. Explore it.

       * *  *
Thought of the Day: May 6, 2016

You do not look for gold in gold; you look for it in dirt. Reflect on your
faults and you just might find gold. Never for a moment give reality to a
fault by ignoring it. Pretending something doesn't exist is itself a fault.
Always be eager to examine up close anything that you would rather
ignore. Introspection fosters courage and courage leads to fearlessness,
and fearlessness leads to discovery. There is light in the dark corners of
our mind only if we shine it there. But, until we take a look, it will always
be dark.

       * *  *

Consistency fosters results, whereas fickleness fosters failure. When it
comes to meditation, study, and attending dharma discourses, a sincere
wear away afflictive emotions that hinder progress along the path towards
self-realization.

Maintaining discipline regarding time is tough. We don't always feel the
same way at the same time every day. So, when we set a time for
meditation, it's hard to stick with it. Somedays we may feel too tired,
other days too irritated, other days wishing to go out with friends, and
other days lured to a park, and so forth. As soon as we attempt to adhere
to a scheduled meditation practice, we are challenged by competing
desires, fatigue, anxiety, distracting friends, ambitions, restlessness,
weariness, discouragement, all variety of human conditions that are not
given to meditation, competing for our meditation time slot.

Grand plans do not build a disciplined meditation practice. It is more
likely we will be able to maintain short meditation periods than longer
ones. Therefore, it is far better to set aside fifteen minutes for meditation
every day, and succeed, than an hour, hit a miss. Those who take a
humble approach remain for the long haul and come to enjoy meditation
and grow accustomed to more extended periods.

Making the best use of "time" is a noble goal. It requires mental pliancy
to adapt our mood to accord with the disciplines we wish to engage with,
whether they be meditation, sports, study, or work, etc. But,  if we wish
to succeed in anything, we must be consistent and not allow ourselves to
make excuses for being otherwise.

     * *  *
Thought of the Day: May 8, 2016

Freedom comes through discipline, bondage through its lack.

     * *  *

Money may not be able to buy happiness, but giving it to those in need
Wealth will never be a burden if we do this.

     * *  *
Thought of the Day: May 10, 2016
Love lasts because it never begins. It is only a matter of finding it within
yourself and never losing it again. Never mistake a physical relationship
with love because that paves the way to losing that relationship. Don't
make the same mistake again. First, find love that is not supported by
yourself. From this basis, physical love can begin, and last.

    * *  *

Thought of the Day: May 11, 2016

bring harm to others. Overmastered by your hatred, you are wrong
inflicting pain and suffering while you are like an ignorant, puppet, If you
have anger and hate, know that you are like a stick being used to
manipulated by an evil puppeteer doing with you as he pleases. Cut the
strings of hatred and anger without a second thought. Do not be
manipulated by the emotions. Be patient and tolerant and win the battle
against the foe. Never let an angry word from your mouth, a hostile
intention, motivate your body, or an angry thought consume your mind.
While you may be trying to hurt another with your anger and hate, the
burden that you carry by harboring it is inconceivably greater.       

    * *  *

This month celebrates the Buddha's birth, enlightenment, and nirvana.
Most of what we say pass with time, but the Buddha's words are as vital
today as they were over two-thousand five hundred years ago when he
spoke them. We can be thankful to all those who have lived by his
words, especially the sangha of monks and nuns, for carrying the torch of
truth, merit, and virtue for the many centuries that have elapsed since the
Buddha's passing.

The Buddha said: "All living beings have the Buddha Nature, and it is
only because of false thinking and attachment that they fail to realize it."
Whether we call ourselves Buddhist or not, the meaning is quite clear,
and that is that we all have the seed of enlightenment within us. We only
need to water it and it will grow. The Buddha's teachings give us the
direction we need to go to move away from ignorance to an awareness of
our true nature, away from confusion and step towards clarity.

If we honor ourselves through the practice of the Buddha dharma, we
honor the Buddha, as well. The Buddha is never further away than his
teachings and it is the teachings that will nourish and protect us as we
move to better ourselves.

    * *  *

Thought of the Day: May 13, 2016

Remember yourself. The strength of our character depends on the
sincerity of our effort to keep the pledges we make to ourselves and
others.      

    * *  *
Thought of the Day: May 15, 2016

If we can help someone become self-reliant we have truly helped
them.    

    * *  *
Thought of the Day: May 16, 2016
We all seek happiness elsewhere. The Hawaiian fisherman sitting on a
reef beneath a palm as his line dangles in a turquoise pool of water
below, longs for the day when he will have the money to go to a big city
on the "Mainland," while those on the "Mainland," dream of that
turquoise pool. It seems that familiarity breeds discontent, and it
probably does. But, whose fault is that? It is ours.

either. We have to become convinced of this to recognize that we are
responsible for stimulating our mind, and not our surroundings. We
responsible for stimulating our mind, and not our surroundings. We
daydream for even a moment. For doing so is a distraction, and allowing
must learn to engage our mind in the familiar and not allow ourselves to
ourselves to be habitually lured into a world of fantasies is why we don't
develop the strength and discipline of mind that will bring us peace and
happiness independent of surroundings.

    * *  *

If you find someone annoying, ask yourself in what way you are like
them.

     * *  *

If you don't stick your neck out, you won't see anything. Cultivating the
   * *  *

Thought of the Day: May 19, 2016

"Meditation" is overemphasized in Western culture, and this is
unfortunate because many who clash with meditation or who have a
natural aversion towards it often give up on spiritual practice. The truth
is that meditation (as known in the West) is a tiny piece of a much
bigger pie. The inability to meditate is in no way a hindrance to pursuing
the path to self discovery.

   * *  *
Thought of the Day: May 20, 2016

Sympathetic criticism is supportive. Check yourself before criticizing
   * *  *
Thought of the Day: May 21, 2016
When we talk about patience we generally think of being patient with
ourselves is equally important. We do not have to move as fast as our
fast moving world.  We seldom have a chance to take a breath as we
struggle to keep up in our jam-packed world. Peer pressure pushes us
forward, too, often unnecessarily and in a direction we don't want to go.
We feel compelled to perform and weary ourselves meeting
expectations. If this is the way we live, we will fall apart, and won't even
know what our goals are, let alone reach them.

Goals are personal, and we should demarcate what they are. Clarifying
our aims and aspirations will help us to simplify our lives by eliminating
actions not supportive of what we want for ourselves. We need to create
space to grow for as long as we do not provide it, nothing will come
our way. If an opportunity is to knock, we have to have a door for it to
knock on. If we are always "busy" we will not attract opportunity in line
with our real ambitions. We have to cut out all unnecessary things we
do and not fear having nothing to do.
   * *  *
When you give, you do not give anything that was not given to you.
Your mother and father gave you life, sunshine and rain nourished the
soil with the warmth and moisture for your food to grow, and cotton
for the clothes you wear, your parents gave their time, your teachers
educated you, and when the time came, employers gave you
employment. The world has offered you opportunities to be happy and
productive. As you were given to freely, you should give freely and
circulate all that comes your way. This attitude stimulates increase while
anything else will ensure that you struggle to keep what you have.

Our bodies are a gift to serve others. Our words are a gift to lift and
support others. Our thinking is a gift to explore ourselves and discover
our true nature. Awakened we can awaken others. Not a single aspect
of our lives belongs to us, and we should cut through the illusion that
we own anything material or immaterial. Let us regard everything as a
gift to be shared and thereby free our mind of the burden of ownership,
material or spiritual. We are interdependent, and those who realize their
interdependence value others even as they value themselves.
  
                      * *  *

If you are a teacher, learn from those you teach; if you are a student,
learn from those who teach, and if you are neither, become one or the
other.

                    * *  *

Thought of the Day: May 24, 2016

As long as your good company, keep to yourself.

                    * *  *
Before "thinking out of the box," you must think in the box, which
means following rules It is true that "rules are meant to be broken,"
but they cannot be broken, if not followed first.
 
                     * *  *

ensnared by the five senses, but we have the key to our cell, and that is
the teachings.

                    * *  *

Thought of the Day: May 27, 2016

Doing things the way we want them done may take time that we don't
feel we have. Rather than rush to get things done, it is better to try to
adjust our schedule and create the space we feel we need. Enjoying
what we do is an important part of doing and also taken into
consideration.

                    * *  *
Well intentioned criticism is a suggestion and should be taken as such.

                    * *  *

Thought of the Day: May 29, 2016

The teachers from various traditions gave us the teachings, which are
our gifts, which we honor through practice and realization. The
teachings are the dharma body of the masters, and if we wish to feel
close to our teacher(s), we can do so by simply following the
teachings. Whether a teacher is living or has passed on, we can feel his
presence within us when we embody the teachings given to us.

                    * *  *
people are not machines, we probably all know the feeling of feeling as if
we were, especially when overwhelmed by tasks. Machines certainly don't
connect with what they are doing, they are not human, and can't be
expected to. But, we are human, and should connect with what we are
But,
the fact is that when we are burdened by too many things to do at once,
we disconnect with what we are doing, and are not longer engaged, but
enslaved. This should not be how it is.

     * *  *  

Thought of the Day: June 2, 2016

The saying, "Money can't buy happiness," may be true in the context of
happiness for oneself, but the money we give to others may bring
happiness to them and fulfill a genuine need. Giving can bring happiness
both to ourselves and those we give to if we use our wisdom and give to
worthy causes. Randomly giving to recipients we do not believe in will
bring little satisfaction, so do give, but scrutinize well where your
resources
are going.

     * *  *
Thought of the Day: June 3, 2016

Life is full of metaphors that if paid attention to can teaches us not only
how to accomplish basic tasks more easily, but difficult ones, as well. Not
only is it true that the metaphors of life will provide effective lessons for
living, but for our meditation, too.

If you set out to clean a floor, there may be furniture you have to move
first. Whatever we set out do generally do has preliminaries. Most of the
time we don't have to think about these and just do them spontaneously.
If we set out on a trip, we know we have to fill up with gas first; we don't
even think about it. However, sometimes things pop into the mind in a
very unpredictable way, perhaps not even related to what we wish to do.
Perhaps we remember an errand we forgot to run or a mortgage payment
we forgot to pay, a meeting we have to attend, and our trip gets thrown
into disarray.

We all seek harmony in our lives, but it is not easily achieved. We often
make life difficult for ourselves because we do not give enough
consideration to what we are getting ourselves newly involved in and
what
it may entail and current activities it may conflict with. Often this happens
when we rush to please others, forgetting ourselves in the process, or
when we wish to experience something new.

We tend to think increase rather than decrease, and this is where we get
ourselves in trouble repeatedly. If we are full to overflowing with things
to
do, we will not fully enjoy our activities, but rather feel cramped by them.
To avoid being cramped and to allow for a greater appreciation of the
present, it is advised by many Masters always to think of decreasing
activities and simplifying our lives, rather than the other way around.

proper mindfulness. It is far more likely that things will fall into place
with
few surprises and obstacles. Simplicity is ours to enjoy and value.

     * *  *  

Thought of the Day: June 4, 2016

We are never really alone, though we may feel as if we are when secluded
from others. But, in point of fact, the feeling of connectedness will more
likely emerge from seclusion, than in a crowd or with friends, which
sometimes even fosters a feeling of loneliness.

     * *  *
If someone asks as a favor of us and we are in a position to be helpful
we
expecting to be reciprocated, we should banish such thoughts. Giving is
an opportunity to gain merit, and the giving itself is its own reward.

     * *  *  

Thought of the Day: June 5, 2016

Although it is said that we all have the enlightened nature and nothing
comes from outside, to have the inner experience of this requires a good
deal of stage setting. If we do not educate ourselves and learn to
distinguish the various views that reflect different levels of understanding,
it will be impossible to remove the obscurations that hide our enlightened
nature.

The Buddha himself said many times that he cannot give us
enlightenment, even though he no doubt must have wished he could. He
said, however that he could reveal the way to reason, reflect on the
teachings, one's thoughts, and meditate correctly so that we could
disentangle ourselves from the burden of our obstacles to knowing the
truth within ourselves.

Therefore, we should always maintain a positive attitude towards our
meditation and always reflect on the fact that the treasure is within and
we
need not create anything new. We should understand that our effort is to
remove the dirt from the gold, not to add gold.

     * *  *
I started using facebook a few weeks ago and find it a healthy departure
from my disciplined and structured life. But, today, when I mentioned to
Mudra, my daughter, I was on facebook, she said that it is said that when
you find your parents are on facebook, you know you have been on it too
long! Gee, and I thought I was being cool!

    * *  *  

Thought of the Day: June 9, 2016

Honor others by listening to them. Being a good listener will win friends
better than being a good conversationalist. The depth of a conversation is
not guided by the one who is talking as much as by the one who is
listening. And, if a conversation is going nowhere, silence will either push
it deeper or end it, in either case we win.

    * *  *
hungry. The Buddha explicitly stated to avoid "preferences" regarding
food, which in one fell swoop eliminates the possibility of becoming a
"health nut."

Properly eating has more to do with attitude than anything else. Nothing
is healthier than eating with a sense of gratitude and mindfulness. In the
West often diet obsession becomes a distraction even as it does for a
beggar on the streets in India or Nepal, both obsessed in an unhealthy
way that distracts from a meditative lifestyle. There is no fixed dharma
telling us what to eat, and all of us have different constitutions and
physical needs. The responsibility is on our shoulders to discover the diet
that makes us most fit and yet does not excite the mind and prove itself a
distracting form of entertainment. Discipline is the key to achieving this.

                           * *  *  

Thought of the Day: June 12, 2016

Many people need help and as dharma practitioners cultivating
compassion we naturally seek to serve others. We can save ourselves
from
getting involved in often fruitless efforts by keeping our service to others
impartial and unbiased. Get involved in people's personal affairs as little
as possible.

                                 * *  *

Thought of the Day: June 13, 2016

day-to-day worldly habits. In the West a lot of thought and effort have
gone into making life easy—push a button and things go on, push
another and they go off. Things are made so that they are ready to
function immediately. So people approach Dharma as if it, too, should be
something easy, something similar to manipulating a material object.
They
approach Dharma with their habitual speediness, grafting onto it their
attitudes toward the material world. Dharma has nothing to do with one’s
attitudes toward the material world. Dharma has to do with working with
one’s mind and so requires a completely different attitude. If one takes a
speedy approach to Dharma, one simply creates a lot of problems, but if
one is open and relaxed about it, things become much easier."

Norbu, Thinley. Echoes: The Boudhanath Teachings, Shambhala.
Publications.

                                 * *  *
Next to being a monk, being a parent has been the most rewarding
completed I am so thankful for having had the opportunity, not so much
because of what I imparted to my children, but for what they have given
to me. There is no doubt that they have strengthened my character, filled
me with humor and love, and been a support in difficult times. To
Rachel, Mudra, and Kai, and the many friends you brought to our home
over the years, thanks for making mine a Happy Fathers Day.

                           * *  *  

Thought of the Day: June 15, 2016

We suffer when we do senseless things. But, what are senseless things?
Senseless actions a generally illogical and poorly thought out. They
typically are done on impulse without being given due consideration. We
have the faculty of reason and are often misled by impulse to ignore it.
Impulsive action is a demon that must be subdued, and the one adversary
it cannot stand up to is reason. Think when you do things, and if the way
doesn't become clear, realize it may not be the best time to act. Avoid
acting when pressured by circumstances.

Recently my daughter, Mudra, and her fiance were evicted from their
apartment because the owner wants to sell it. They were offered
assistance buying a home by her fiance's parents, but I suggested they
rent another place and shop for a new home at their leisure. When we are
rushed, we don't enjoy what we are doing regardless of the outcome, and
we should enjoy the process of doing things as much as the results
achieved. Avoid being result driven.

           * *  *

Thought of the Day: June 16, 2016

The only reference that has meaning in Dharma is the reference to
wisdom. However, if we have only a reference to fundamental awareness
but have not developed confidence in it, we may find ourselves in
conflict with others. Even though we may have faith in Dharma and
some insight, when we come into contact with people who do not share
our experience and opinions, we may be negatively influenced and even
lose our awareness—we may fall under the control of what seems to be
the general experience. We must develop confidence in fundamental
awareness as well as recognize it.

Norbu, Thinley. Echoes: The Boudhanath Teachings, Shambhala.
Publications.

          * *  *

This is not suggesting to be a loner, but only that we owe it to ourselves
to feel free to honor our privacy as we feel inclined to honor it.

In a valley in the Himalayas of Nepal, everyone thought that conchs are
yellow. The water in that Valley had a mineral that caused a distortion in
vision. When a trekker with a conch saw that they believed his conch of
yellow color, he discovered the reason for their misperception. Yet he still
could not convince them that his conch was white!

Within the complex societies we live in, many false views are universally
ingrained through habituation to a wrong-headed way of thinking about
things. We are conditioned to have many false views by our social
structures. Through meditative analyses and we attain greater clarity
aforementioned wrong views dissolve. We will no longer be inclined to
follow in our old footsteps and often this will mean curtailing
involvement with close friends. We should never fear this as it will not
cause us to lose friends but gain their admiration instead.
                          * *  *  

Thought of the Day: June 18, 2016

Today I read about the importance of studying within one's own level.
There is so much dharma available today in English and other languages
that it can be an overwhelming task select suitable books. Even books
that explicitly state that one need to have received certain initiations prior
to reading them are available. In such a forest of available works, it is
easy to get lost.

Humbly select those writings that you can understand, and don't go too
deep into the woods until you feel comfortable. Books that inspire you to
practice the dharma and offer readily understood explanations are best.

                                * *  *

Thought of the Day: June 19, 2016

He runs like a fly which has spied a wound, like an ass which has spied
something unclean ; as a dog to the shambles for meat: so rush fools in
their passion for women. [81] "Enveloped in ignorance, clad in a mass of
darkness, as crows to carrion, so are fools attached to women. "He is the
prey of Mara whosoever has entered on the downward course. The
lustful have but the same sort of enjoyment as a worm on a dunghill. "
Like a painted pot of worms l wheresoever it be seen, full of urine and
ordure, or a skin inflated with wind : (Substitute "women" for "men'
according to your gender.)

Santideva. Siksha Samuccaya A Compendium Of Buddhist Doctrine

                                * *  *
People talk a lot about impermanence, but have only a poor picture of it
to demonstrate impermanence, change alone demonstrates it. The fact
that someone might lose their house in a fire might be a tragic loss, but it
Change happens every moment, and that is a things impermanence.
Anyone who agrees that a tree, for example, changes over a period of a
thousand years, will have to agree that it changes from one moment to
the next. They would also have to agree that not even one particle of the
tree that exist in a present moment passes to the next for to think this
way would make all change impossible. If we train our mind to think
about impermanence, we will be undertaking one of the principle
practices of Buddhism.

                          * * *     

"My family and friend's can benefit more now by my sacrifice than my
withdrawing from the world, to a cave, riverside heritage, or mountain for
the last few months. Neither of us are forced by circumstances as we
both have satisfactory resources.

perhaps in a different sense.  Often, helping others is a matter of self-
sacrifice, rather than material giving, but it is our ability to materially give
that blocks us from seeing it. Thus wealth and success, can undermine
our closeness to those nearest us, but we don't have to let it.
Sacrifice often comes from the heart rather than the
pocket.                                                          
                          
                                * *  *  

Thought of the Day: June 21, 2016

All the good works gathered in a thousand ages, Such as deeds of
generosity, And offerings to the Blissful Ones— A single flash of anger
shatters them. 2. No evil is there similar to anger, No austerity to be
compared with patience. Steep yourself, therefore, in patience, In various
ways, insistently. 3. Those tormented by the pain of anger, Never know
tranquillity of mind— Strangers they will be to every pleasure; They will
neither sleep nor feel secure.

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

                               * *  *

In everything you do, ask yourself, "Where is the love?" This inquiry
applies in particularly with meditation at home, going to temples,
speaking the Dharma to others, and so forth. In the beginning of dharma
practice, a certain amount of sacrifice is always felt. We are giving up
time that we would rather be spending elsewhere, with friends, family, a
newspaper, and so forth. But, after some time we will be looking
forward to our dharma practice and the sense of sacrifice gradually
wains. In its place will be competing thoughts that will compel us to
consider how to serve best. As a result of engaging in the dharma for an
extended period, new avenues of helping others will arise, and these will
compete with established rituals. We may find ourselves wondering for
example whether or not skip a mediation today to help a friend who
chore we had been putting off endlessly, or maybe our shrine needs a
good cleaning. If we brush these things off for meditation, we better be
sure our skill in meditation is deep enough that these kinds of thought
are not tugging at our conscience begging for our acknowledgment. If
we have doubts, we should ask ourselves, "Where is the love," and go
there.
                        * * *          

Thought for the Day: June 24, 2016

Limitations are very real and should be respected. A dear friend of mine
once remarked, "I am a Buddhist, not a Buddha," clearly recognizing his
limitations. When we practice the Dharma we should always "try our
best," and have no doubts that we are. Effort should always be there.
But, we should also temper our expectations of ourselves, and recognize
when our level of skill is not commensurate with our immediate goal.
Recognizing when to ease up on ourselves is as important as when to
exert ourselves.

                        * * *
Recently I saw a post on Facebook picturing a pretty girl, eyes closed,
and face very peaceful, on a crowded subway with everyone busy
chatting, talking on their phones, playing games, cuddling, sleeping, and
to, would that not change the world?" Now, that is stereotyping! There is
nothing to indicate that the women pictured is meditating any more than
her fellow travellers. It is easy to look like a Buddha but to think like one
is a different matter. Generally monks and masters appear to accord with
spotting them in a crowd is a real challenge.

                        * * *          

Thought for the Day: June 26, 2016

Good friendships grow slowly and their roots go deep.

                        * * *
be. In other words, we can easily make mediation sort of like being in a
prison, rather than a deepened sense of openness and freedom, a primary
consequence of correct meditation.

When we meditate, we are not doing anything special, yet we think that
we are, and that is where the trouble begins. Whatever notions we have
about meditation colors it and inevitably this leads to isolating ourselves
from others and our environment. This attitude is even reflected in our
posture, eyes shut, legs entangled, and unmoving. But, careful study of
meditation texts reveals that though our body may be such, our mental
attitude should be vast, open, free, and fearless. While outwardly we may
appear contracted, inwardly we are expansive.

If we feel imprisoned by meditation, we should seek release. These are
not just words, but rather a reflection of the way to deal with thoughts
and emotions while meditating. We release them into the vast
expansiveness of our infinite mind. We don't try to subdue them or
block them out so that we can experience this vast emptiness within. We
are not there to police our thoughts but release our thoughts. There is
nothing more effective for making one miserable than meditation, nor
making one blissful, it all depends on our attitude towards it, how we
approach it.

                        * * *          
disappear as we try to enhance it through meditation or reflection. This
is what is called: "Riding a donkey looking for a donkey." Avoid it.

                        * * *          
the noble qualities of a practitioner of the Buddha dharma is to rejoice in
the "merit and virtue of others." The other day I was reading a and I
found it interesting that he mentioned being "embarrassed" when hearing
of the good works of others, their happiness, and so forth. But, it all
made
sense when I thought about it. He means that we should think of
ourselves and why we haven't done better, and do this without becoming
jealous.

* * *   

Just as machines are "programed" to do certain things, we human beings
are "programed" to act in various ways, but we don't call it "programing"
but rather "habituation." We function the way we do by force of habit,
and
behavior. We can make ourselves a bum or a God; it is all in our hands.

While the above is encouraging, it also gives us a big responsibility. Our
fate is in our hands, and this can be frightening for some of us. The
Dharma offers us many tools to help us change our lives and instill the
confidence we need to do so. We have to be reformatted and our
operating system updated, and we will be ready to go.

* * *          
coming into the world healthy and without suffering. Moreover, she not a
time that we were ill that she didn't wish she could bear our discomfort.
We were the first thought in her mind, her pride as she carried us in her
belly, and nurtured us through childhood. She gave of herself  without
ever counting the cost. No one ever took so much joy in us as our
mother,
nor made her laugh so deeply. We will never find another who so
patiently
cared for us. And, she was our everything for many years.

While all the above is as true as we have grown into adult life as it was
when we were helpless, how many of us ever think about it? Most will
say
they don't find it relevant to think about, or they don't have time. And,
what use will such thinking be, the past being past and all. But, basic
human feelings can be deepened through such contemplation, and is
recommended. Although many would not find it odd to meditate on a
candle light, yet they would think it odd to reflect on their mother's love.
Is this not ridiculous? It shows just how detached we have become.

It is no wonder them that many Buddhist teachings urge us to meditate
on
our mother's kindness as a means to get in touch with ourselves and our
true feelings, all of which have become obscured through being part of a
materialistic society. Such a meditation does not separate us from this
society but rather puts it in perspective. That is its aim.

* * *          
Happy Forth of July!
Everything arises dependent on causes and conditions, whether it be
manufactured things, phenomena of our world, our bodies, or our may
envision an autonomous self, but if you try to find it you will come up
empty handed, the substantiality of the core of our being is an illusion
created by habitually thinking there is one. This also falls apart on
examination through reasoning and analyses.

We are not only constantly being effected by our environment, but we are
also influencing it. We may long to be free, but true freedom is only
found
when we fully appreciate ourselves as interconnected with all other beings
on this planet and particularly those closest to us. We are aware of the
fact
that we depend on our environment and the impact we have on it, but
this
awareness can be greatly increased.

The best way to connect with oneself is to connect with everyone else by
deeply appreciating them and your dependence on them. On a material
and emotional level our very survival depends on others, and others
likewise depend on us. If we analyze through reasoning this state of
affairs,
we will feel a deeper sense of responsibility and caring for others welfare.
When we buy food in the market we will find ourselves thinking about its
production and transportation, the workers who stock the shelves, and
the
clerk who checks us out, all these people we are connected to and
dependent on. Think about it!
* * *          

appreciate them. Therefore, turn off your motor and enjoy what comes
your way slowly, fully appreciating to the fullest life's many offerings.

* * *  

this changed for me when I started frequenting the monastery of His
Holiness the Dalai Lama, Namgyal Monastery, in India. There I observed
the monks pacing on the roofs of their quarters studying texts, often for
hours on end. In fact I observed that this was their preferred posture for
study. I also, noticed that the monks recite mantras while
circumambulating the temple compound, about a twenty minute walk for
one round, or make many circumambulations on the inner "kora" around
the temple's inner walkway. Prior to staying near the temple and going
daily, I reserved standing meditation or study for when I was scattered or
fatigued, but watching the monks at the temple rubbed off on me and I
often find it more beneficial to be erect while practicing the dharma as it
really makes laxity impossible.

Walking meditation has always been vital to the monk's life from ancient
times to the present, but perhaps more so closer to the Buddha's time.
However, today, practitioners often get stuck in the trap of enjoying their
own stillness, and because this is easier in the seated posture, the seated
posture is the one generally adopted today. Delighting in one's own
peaceful state is like staring in the mirror thinking how beautiful or
handsome you are. It is ridiculous to meditate like this, but it is common,
and a main reason that we don't mix standing and walking positions with
seated ones more than we do. All of us should examine our meditation
and study and consider if we might benefit by introducing walking and
standing postures.

* * *          

they arise they will bar any progress that might otherwise come our way.
Those without a strong sense of who they are, who have not developed
their inner life, will be scattered and distracted constantly, and will have
great difficulty calming their mind when they want to.Distraction and
scatteredness are negative emotions and just as surely as

Discipline creates a strong sense of self worth. Those who discipline and
scatteredness finds no foothold in such a person. If we want peace of and
scatteredness finds no foothold in such a person. If we want peace of
mind we must cease allowing our mind to drag us here and there like a
activity.

* * *   
seem like our world is falling apart, and we feel overwhelmed and unable
to put it together. During such times we should ask ourselves whether or
Because of greed we often try to make our lives more than they are
meant
to be. We buy more than we can afford, we get involved in relationships,
romantic and otherwise, that are not in our best interest, we may
undertake disciplines we cannot keep, and so forth. Often, just one of
greed we overwhelm ourselves, and not only we cannot enjoy what we
do,
but we create problems for ourselves.

Once in the mud, the first thing we should do is stop walking in it, get on
dry land, and don't get in the mud again. Recognize your mistakes and
start fresh, with a less ambitious goal. Big goals are usually motivated by
our big egos, so we should have very humble ambitions that are
achievable.

A dharma practitioner should aim for a simple and uncomplicated
lifestyle
with few entanglements, personal and financial. We must leave ourselves
with plenty of energy for practice and be sensitive to the needs of others.
If we do this, there will be nothing to fall apart and we will be
comfortable
and self-contained.

              * * *       

Meditation and right action go together like diet and exercise. No matter
how good our diet is, if we do not exercise it will offer little benefit. By
the same token, if we only study the dharma, but don't find ways to
demonstrate it in our actions, it will be of little value. The pleasure of
practicing the dharma is seeing our theoretical understanding find
expression and meaning in our lives.

              * * *      
life experiences, cultural influences, social life, education, and so forth. is
pan-cultural. Low on the list would be "technology abuse," not because it
is not prevalent, but rather because we are not conscious of it.

We are constantly being molested by technology. It sucks us in and drains
our life away. It has become so much a part of our modern culture that
we think it is normal to be abused, and we allow ourselves to be enslaved
by gadgets that can do almost everything. In fact some gadgets such as I
Phones and Tablets offer so many options that it is sometimes difficult to
remember why we picked them up and set out to do. Other times they
alert us that a message is waiting, an email, a phone call, an SMS,
demanding our attention for what may have no relevance. We become
scattered and distracted paying attention to devices that often abuse us
more than serve us.

It is not uncommon to go to a restaurant or park and see three or four
friends busy ignoring each other, but paying attention to their phones.
Because of a lack of viggilance that would allow them to use their devices
in their service to accomplish their ambitions, they become lulled by the
superficiality that obscures the true technological marvel that they hold in
their hands. If our device offers us the ability to do something, that does
not mean it has relevance to our situation and needs, and if this is the
case, the offering is a distraction, doubly so if we follow it. However, we
can with a little effort reclaim our dignity and stop the abuse by asserting
our own guidelines on how we are going to use our devices, and this
certainly would be purposeful and well directed, and the avoidance as
much as possible being lulled into technological complacency.

              * * *          

"Leave well enough alone" and you will have time to do other things.

              * * *
Thought for the Day: July 12, 2016

What you can't do well, don't worry about. But, whatever you can do
well, try to improve.

              * * *  
those who are not. This response is rooted in jealousy and is natural
unrestrained lives. Being sympathetic towards the plight of those not on
the path is one of the rewards of the hard work it takes to find comfort
within a disciplined framework. It is this genuine sympathy that allows us
to help others, something that of course we could not do while being
intolerant.

Sometimes our understanding does not grow apace with our discipline.
We can easily be tempted to take on more than we can bear in our effort
to achieve success in our spiritual endeavors. We must remember that
just because our goal is "spiritual" does not mean our motivation is, and
it often isn't when we newly set out on the path. We must check
ourselves and practice within our capacity, without paying attention to
what our peers are doing.

"Regarding others with frank and loving hearts" is the way of the
bodhisattva according to Shantideva, in his renowned work the
Bodhisattvacharyavatara, the "Bodhisattvas Way of Life." In it he says
that
it is through others that he will attain to Buddhahood in as much as they
challenge him in many ways. Master Hsuan Hua says he regards others
as "thoughts in his mind," and if we reflect a little on this it makes
perfect sense to regard others this way. We do have unruly friends, angry
ones, jealous ones, conniving ones, and so forth, just as we have
acquaintances. So regarding others as thoughts within our own mind will
help us to respond to others appropriately and our thoughts too, and visa
verse.

Be happy to have the opportunity to practice the dharma, and let nothing
stand in the way of that happiness.



              * * *          

How many times has the "perfect thing to say" come after the moment
to wish to remember. Often our knowledge is there, but becomes shy
distracted by other thoughts, and when we go to fetch the one we need
at the moment, we cannot clear them out, and are left with something on
the tip of our tongue doing us little good.

If this is a frequent occurrence, it is a wake p call for us to be more
vigilant of our mind's musings when we are engaged in ordinary affairs.
If we are alert and attentive when we seemingly don't need to be, our
mind will stand to attention when we call upon it to serve us. The
opposite is true when vain musings are allowed to lull us into
complacency, and this form of laxity should be diligently guarded against.

Language is the most effective means of representing ourselves, and our
most faithful servant. It is the most effective means of achieving our
aims. To be blessed with such a highly developed form of
communication and miss opportunities for it to express our views
because of dullness on our part is a real pity. Don't wait till the need to
use our tongue wisely is at our doorstep, but always check the content of
the mind and leave no room for nonsense. If we nurture our mind in
this way, we will be prepared for the unexpected.
             * * *          
Thought for the Day: July 15, 2016

If you pluck a character from one book and put it in another, it will not
fit very well, if it has meaning at all. Context determines everything, and
this is particularly true with teachings we receive from masters or
teachings we read in books. Question and Answer sessions demand us
to be particularly attentive to the need the master is speaking to and we
should learn to recognize the difference between the master  speaking to
a specific need and a general one.

When studying dharma books, sutras and their commentaries, realize that
applies to your particular current needs. Focus on a single section of text
applies to your particular current needs. Focus on a single section of text
and you will often find that its meaning pervades the entire text, whereas
if the entire text is the focus, all will be missed because we are
overwhelmed.

Never study or listen to the dharma with a feeling of being cramped.
Allow yourself the freedom to disregard (at least for the time being)
anything that seems out of reach, with a mind to visit it another time.
             * * *

they most completely overhaul their entire way of living. But, this is not
at all what adopting a dharmic lifestyle entails.

Setting out on the path has more to do with attitude towards what we
do than the substance of what we do. It does not mean we have to
change our job, social life, daily routines such as exercise, the way we
eat, or any such thing. It rather shows us a new way of relating to all
that we do.

Dharma practice is all about relationship, how we relate to our everyday
environment and the part we play. For example, two people may have
the exact same job, let's us say restaurant servers. One restaurant server
is attentive and cheerful, while the other seems to be serving in a
contrived way, going through the motions, but with a mind elsewhere.
The servers attitudes are very different because of the way their mind is
set and that is the only real difference.

When we introduce meditation and dharma study into our lives, it will
naturally introduce us to new ways of viewing all aspects of our lives
and a sense of importance towards even the minutest details. Although
our lives may be outwardly very ordinary and mundane, inwardly we
will feel a deeper sense of engagement and find ourselves becoming
more and more absorbed in what previously may have seemed trivial.
This is because our dharma practice is increasing our awareness, and
this new awareness will bring with it many benefits.
            * * *          

Thought for the Day: July 18, 2016

"You should first try to say with devotion the name prayer of Amitabha
Buddha one hundred times a day, then increase it to two hundred, and
so on. One day there might be a time when whatever you are doing, you
will always be united with the expression of the name of the Buddha
and the feeling of the presence of the Buddha. If that happens, when
you die, you will die with the expression and feelings of the presence of
the Buddha. Then, because of your merits and the blessings of the
Buddha, perceptions will manifest as the buddha field, and your future
will be in peace and happiness. Then you will be equipped to serve
others."

Longchenpa. The Practice of Dzogchen: Longchen Rabjam's Writings
on the Great Perfection (Buddhayana Foundation) Shambhala
Publications.

            * * *     
If you give, you will always have something to give. If you are stingy, no
you will always be looking for more, knowing no contentment. So
always be generous no matter how much or little you have to offer.

Sharing is a special human quality and one of the surest way to generate
contentment and  happiness. Sometimes this can be difficult because we
are attached to our wealth and personal items and our time, as well, all
of which we may be called upon to share. But, if we see a need and turn
our head away, it will not bring rest, so it is better that we look at the
need and act according to our capacity to alleviate it.

Many of us are poor and it may seem we have little to give, always
struggling ourselves. But, even if it seems that we can't make our own
ends meet, let alone others, we should always try to give a little of our
time and resources to others. Doing so is the best way to create causes
for uplifting our own unfortunate situation. If we are lacking now, it is
because we didn't share in the past, so if we share now, it will create
abundance in the future and an immediate sense of contentment, for
any act of giving brings contentment.

            * * *          
us may wish we could relive them. We think of how strong or petite we
were, how handsome or beautiful, how quick our wit or how clever,
and how easily we moved furniture about, walked up a flight of stairs,
or briskly walked through a park.

When we were young, however, we never thought our beauty would
fade, our arms would become like withered sticks, our legs slow to
respond, and our mind a little less sharp. Had we thought of life's
inevitable transformations before the obvious was upon us we may have
gained a little wisdom in the process, and lived our earlier years very
differently, with a greater sense of appreciation of youth's potential and
fully using it to gain clarity of our highest aspirations and work towards
achieving them.

Many who are older reminisce and think of their earlier days; some do
this to the extent that they are really living in the past. A cure now
would be to shake off dwelling on earlier years and look forward to the
next stage and start thinking about death, for just as surly as thinking
about aging is a way to develop wisdom when young, thinking about
death is the wise thing to do during later years, certainly wiser than
reflecting on the past.

Remember the words of the great Chinese Master, Seng Chao: "When
thinking of what had been once, in the place where once it had been,
one notices it had never failed to be once." Live in the moment, not the
moment you wish for.

This thought was inspired by my reflection about all the dated "profile
pictures" I see on FB.

         * * *          

Thought for the Day: July 21, 2016

We all have allot to say. The problem is remembering it when we
need it.

         * * *  
subside no matter how much effort we put forth. If this sounds
familiar to you, then the solution may likely be found off the meditation
cushion rather than on it.

Struggle comes not only in beginning stages, but sometimes at various
stages along the way. We may wrongly blame ourselves for meditating
improperly and take great pains to improve the technical aspects of our
technique. But, fine tuning may not give the expected results, and this
can lead to frustration and lack of confidence.

elements of our ordinary everyday life are not only not supporting our
meditation, but actually harming it. We may spend allot of time
assessing the problems with our meditation and neglecting to look into
our ordinary everyday affairs. In other words, we are up against a wall
and this wall isn't in our meditation, but rather in our active life which
is not supporting but instead undermining any effort we put forth in
meditation.

Meditation requires a strong foundation in moral and ethical discipline,
and if we are not creating that foundation, our meditation cannot
succeed. Moreover, not only will neglect of discipline harm our
practice, but the failure to engage in positive causes that generate
uplifting attitudes within us will undermine it.

Never should we attach to the form of meditation; it is a big obstacle to
think that being seated and reciting a mantra and so forth is meditation.
Think of each and everything you do as meditation and do not be lax.
At the same time, do not expect too much. Be tolerant of your faults
and while resolving to eliminate them, don't be too eager or use force.
Rather reason and analyze why you have the obstacles you do and
leverage the wisdom gained to gradually undermine them. Meditation
should be a joyful and engaging experience that you look forward to
and it will be with the right application of effort.

         * * *          

is not laxness, but  understanding well one's own limitations and
working without overstepping them. Grass doesn't grow any faster by
pulling it, nor can we work beyond our capacity. Often we don't find
the right balance and slip either into laxity, or overexertion. Even
common wisdom, our street language, often encourages us to "take it
easy." Sometimes it takes another to help us recognize when we are
pushing too hard, or not enough.

Correctly and smartly working will help us work with light ease. Have a
clear picture of what you want to achieve and keep it simple. Simplicity
fosters clarity and clarity fosters light ease. If your not enjoying
meditation it could be the case that you are not sure about what you
are doing. This is like driving down an unfamiliar road; it can seem
much longer than a familiar one. So take time through study and
contemplation to gain clarity of meditations aims and means and be
comfortable with your knowledge before proceeding. A few minutes of
right meditation will be very engaging, and we will very naturally
extend the time devoted to meditation because we enjoy it, and not to
fulfill a self  imposed goal.

                         * * *
Whenever you build walls, you must live inside them. Appearances
aside, the free wandering sadhus (wandering yogis) free to dwell as they
lived ordinary lives, while perhaps not all happy, they were less so for
being free to move as they pleased. Not so the King entrapped in a
position where he always lived in fear for his life. No wonder he
needed court jesters, and concubines, and war, and so forth to distract
him from his misery.

Many are miserable meditators because like the king and his castle;
meditation boxes them in rather that lets them out and whats out in.
Openness is the key to meditating properly, and without it, your
meditation will be one in which you are always counting the minutes
till it is over. If the proper way to meditate is not clear, openness will
be impossible. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

1) If your house is empty, a thief breaking in will have nothing to steal.
So reduce your attachments to material things, entertainment, and
frivolous relations, gossip, and so forth. Have nothing you are afraid to
let go of.

2) Maintain good conduct. If our conduct is good, openness comes
naturally, because you have nothing to conceal. A meditators life
should be an open book.

3) Keep supportive company. Your immediate circle of friends should
be those at least your equal and better and supportive of your work to
improve yourself. They should not try to obstruct your spiritual life, be
jealous of it, or look down upon it. Sometimes those closest to us will
try to undermine our practice, and this causes us to build defenses.

4) Mistakes are part of the path, never fear making them, but of course,
do your best not to. Take risks, but only when your clear of your
motivation. Meditators walk like lions; they don't tip-toe around.

5) You don't have to be a Buddhist to embrace its principles.
Buddhism is non-theistic and its principles can be applied in a
Christian, Hindu, or another context. Be open to learning from
Buddhism, but if you feel a conflict, do not shut the door to the
teachings, but stay with your own religion and apply them there.


                         * * *

Receiving good instructions for some is like eating good food that
comes out as excrement because they don't digest the teachings they
and put them into practice and in this way honor the instructions you
have received.

                      * * *

Thought for the Day: July 26, 2016

Because karma ripens immediately, at a future indeterminate time, or
gradually, never wonder what you did to deserve what you have
received. Instead, have faith in the infallible law of karma and live
accordingly.

                      * * *
meditation we can derive benefit through stilling the mind and ordinary
world as a meditation. Generally, when we observe our everyday world
we are looking for something, someone, entertainment, and very
seldom going out without a mind seeking something in particular. But,
him out in his chariot to observe his kingdom. He was curious about
life itself and what he saw changed his way of viewing the world and
inspired him to renounce his palace.

If we go out with the intention of just observing what people do,
impartially, free of judgement good or bad, we can become inspired by
what we see because we are sure to recognize the unfulfilling toil
people go through as they are helplessly led about by unscrutinized
ambitions. While the Buddha noticed the very root of suffering,
sickness, old age, birth, death, and was moved by the fundamental
unsatisfactory nature of the human condition, we may be struck in a
different way. But, however we view it, if we challenge ourselves to go
out periodically with no selfish intention whatsoever, but only to
observe impartially the affairs and struggles of everyday life it is bound
to prompt questions within us that will prompt us to analyze the very
fundamentals of life, just as it did for the Buddha.
                      * * *

Thought for the Day: July 28, 2016

Reflecting on our faults may not bring us happiness, but it will build
our character when combined with a view to overcome them, and the
intention of benefiting others. Many reflections that are unpleasant
initially, in the longer term, as we work through them, will be sources
of happiness. Our long term goals are more important to bear in mind
than our short term ones.

                      * * *
Smart Phones have useful apps too.

                     * * *
An entire philosophical/religious system developed and thrived in ancient
India based on grammar and language, and it is still very much alive
today.
The Grammarians recognized the simple fact that how we frame our
words
when we think is going to be our coffin, or home, and it is therefore
necessary to pay attention to the language we use to frame our thoughts.

We tend to take it for granted that we think in a coherent fashion, but
simple thought experiments can easily demonstrate that this is not so.
Stop
periodically throughout the day and take a moment to consciously
rephrase
what you thought you were thinking. Are you making sense? Can you
frame your thoughts in words? Often we will find that we cannot, or
what
we come up with is incoherent.

Actively engaging the mind, forcing it to go in the direction you want it to
is every bit as important as passively watching it in the fashion of what
many consider meditation. If all you can do is watch the mind, but
cannot
actively maintain a steady stream of reasoning and analyses for fifteen
minutes or an hour as you might for a meditation session, then you have
only understood one half of what it means to meditate.

"Think, think, think, all the time," says Sri Yukeshvar. Take your
thoughts
apart and examine them. Look at the world and try to describe it to
yourself and what it means to be part of it. See what you can say. And if
you get stumped, keep trying.
* * *
Thought for the Day: August 2, 2016

emptiness unique is its emphasis on compassion, and the fact that the
two,
emptiness and compassion, must be paired. This is important because
emptiness is often a one-sided negation wherein the mind is sealed off
from the world, others, ourselves and our thoughts and feelings. For
some
meditation can be likened to removing all furnishings from a room,
turning
off the light, and sitting inside. Technically, such a state is refereed to as
"dull emptiness." Some find it a pleasant state, especially those burdened
with busy lives who find in such a state a holiday from the burden of
One
of the aspects of Tibetan Buddhism that makes its approach to true
thoughts and responsibilities. But, pleasant though it may be, it is with
busy
lives who find in such a state a holiday from the burden of essentially
arrived at through negation and is therefore negative, or nihilistic.

We know we are on the correct approach to emptiness when we feel a
warmheartedness
arising concomitant with the gradual diminishing of common
associations,
thinking, feeling, emotions, and so forth. This is the result of a
considerable
amount of stage setting consisting of study and reflection. Emptiness is
not
a mere negation of our world, but rather a understanding that things are
interdependent and that the world of concrete things is an illusion arising
from a failure to see this interconnectedness.

Understanding that emptiness is really a failure of things to exist in and of
themselves requires a far more rigorous meditation than simply removing
things from our mind as we might furniture from a room. Instead, we
admit to ourselves that things appear to be very real and that they
therefore
must exist in some fashion, but what is this fashion, what mode of
existence do they really have, we inquire. As we immerse ourselves in the
interconnectedness of ourselves, others, and material objects, and realize
this dependent nature as their emptiness, we will naturally feel our own
dependent nature and that as much as we are dependent, so are others
dependent on us.

The above meditation is impersonal, with no reference to family, friends,
our favorite objects, but just an effort to see and appreciate a less
distorted
way of viewing the world than our naive realism. The by product may
well
be a deeper connection to those already dear to us, but it isn't a factor in
attaining the goal.

* * *

When all is said and done the most important things in our life may dawn
on us while looking in the rear-view mirror of a life gone by. One thing
for
sure is we may well regret spending more time paying closer attention to
those nearest to us, our husbands or wives, sons or daughters, parents,
and
don't realize until it is too late that we might have cultivated a deeper
appreciation and love for them. The same can be said for ourselves. No
doubt we will regret not giving more quality time to just being alone with
our thoughts, instead of allowing ourselves to be robbed of them with
superficial distractions.

Progressive thinking about the consequences of our actions while we are
young and vital, will foster a greater care and appreciation for how we
spend our time. "Time waste is life waste," as Sri Satya Sai Baba pointed
out, and we should treat time as a treasure, guarding, and protecting it. If
our aim is to have a rich and rewarding life, we must realize it is not
going
to happen without valuing our actions. The amount of time spent doing
meaningful things and superficial things may be the same, but the results
will be very different, and we should honor ourselves by paying attention
to
how we spend our time.

* * *
causes, the removal of suffering, and Nirvana is peace. These "Truths"
are
to be contemplated, and indeed books have been written about what
these
"Four Truths" really mean.

Many of us would look at these "Truths" and think little about them. A
cursory glance and we might think, "of course there is suffering in the
world," and so forth. But the Buddha often spoke very simply, in fact he
spoke so simply that his words actually begged for a deeper
interpretation,
much like a riddle a friend might ask that seems so obvious that you
know
there must be a "catch."

Our daily lives that we go about so matter of factly can be viewed on a
deeper level if we choose to make the effort. Simple actions that we do
we
can inquire into and ask ourselves in what way might be going to work,
shopping, picking up kids from schaool, and so forth be suffering. Our
lives are going well, so why talk about suffering.
If our lives are going well, seemingly without a hitch, we are actually in a
better position to inquire about suffering than we might be if our lives
were a struggle. If it were a struggle, we would be distracted by our
present
suffering and it would be more difficult for us to grasp the deeper sense
of
suffering the Buddha was talking about. A life going well, on the other
hand, would be more like the Buddha's, who was a prince with a
beautiful
wife and child, a palace, renown, and great wealth, when he made the
observation.

Buddhism is not like many think difficult to understand. Buddhism is
easy
to understand, but developing understanding is difficult. Buddhism just
teaches us to ask simple questions like "how to I hear sounds," how do I
see forms," "why is ordinary life "suffering,"" and so forth. Looking
deeply
into the simple facts of life is the practice of Buddhism.
* * *

Thought for the Day: August 5, 2016

I recently started studying Sanskrit, not so much because I wanted to or
needed to learn it, but because I wanted a way to relax my mind without
creating more potential for distraction. Often idle time is spent going to a
movie, restaurant, coffee house, shopping, and so forth, which may
release
the sense of boredom, or idleness for the moment, but does not create
lingering satisfaction. So, I decided to study a language with the view
that I
could pacify my mind when I felt a need to relax with some neutral
activity
that might also yield a more enduring sense of satisfaction. It didn't have
to
be learning a language. It could have been gardening, a building project,
painting, drawing, and so forth. The point is that we should think how
we
spend our idle time and how we can make the best of it long term.


* * *
Thought for the Day: August 6, 2016

One of the biggest obstacles that is inevitably entailed when we embark
on
journey with arriving at a destination. In other words, we tend to separate
that many ordinary people are good people, and may be no less on a
spiritual path than we are, though they are free of the burden of the
concept of "spiritual path."

The path and attainment are two different things entirely, yet the former
is
often confused with the latter and this causes the spiritual path to become
an obstacle. This confusion is pointed out in many sutras. It is important
therefore that we always take stock of our attitude and weed our any
puffed up disposition from our mindstream when we find it.
* * *
Thought for the Day: August 7, 2016
If another wrongs us it is natural to feel angry at that person. But,
sometimes we gain a sense of satisfaction if we hear of some unfortunate
not a good response. Negativity befalling one who harmed us, doesn't
heal
our wounds; the two are unrelated. If the offender were to apologize and
ask forgiveness, then we would have a reason to feel better, otherwise, we
should guard our mind against ill will towards him or her.

Gaining satisfaction at the misfortune of another no matter the
circumstance is never a healthy response. Their misfortune will not dress
our wounds, and so harboring ill will can only increase the harm already
done. Dissociate from those who mistreat you, wish them well, and go
your way.

                   * * *
Thought for the Day: August 8, 2016

Discipline is not a friendly word. Most of us would rather be able to
practice the path without it, but of course, we all know, this is impossible.
But, one of the reasons that discipline is grudgingly undertaken is that we
misunderstand some elements of it from the perspective of dharma
practice. In that context, there is an important idea that is not often fully
appreciated, though it should be.

Discipline in the spiritual context should not be forced or imposed, but
often is. Rather, we should gradually become favorably inclined towards
training by developing understanding. There must be a motivation to
discipline ourselves, and not something we do as if imposed upon on
from outside. Enthusiasm towards discipline is achieved through study
and reflection; meditation alone won't reach a natural inclination towards
discipline.

The achievement of an attitude of enthusiasm to engage in discipline is
gradually developed through study, reflection, and meditation combined.
When we consider and reflect we become aware of the benefits of
discipline and why it is important. We learn why discipline is an effective
means of removing the personal obstacles that obstruct our mind and
meditation. The removal of barriers, in turn, supports our seated
meditation.

While in the beginning discipline is slothful, if we are persistent a change
of attitude towards it will evolve, and we will gradually enjoy engaging in
it. Self-control will place our dharma practice on a firm footing.

 * * *
Thought for the Day: August 9, 2016

It is said that without a teacher attainment is impossible; or, more
specifically, without the blessings of a teacher, attainment is impossible.
Although, this is true, it shouldn't discourage those who haven't a teacher
from practicing; for it is also said: "When the student is ready, the teacher
appears." Therefore, practice and believe in yourself, and the path, and
                   * * *

Treat everyone like a gift, because that is what they are.

                   * * *

Generally, when we think that we don't have enough, we really do, we
just
have  to arrange things differently.
                 * * *

Thought for the Day: August 12, 2016

If you don't share your resources, no matter how much you have, won't
be enough.
              
                   * * *

momentary slips or accidents. Whenever we find ourselves slipping up,
we
should take a moment to reflect on how we may have prepared for it.
And, in the process try and find a little humor in your mistakes; it can go
a long way towards relieving tension that often causes us to be too hard
on ourselves, something which often obstructs correcting ourselves and
seeing our errors.

                 * * *

Thought for the Day: August 14, 2016

If you sit in a park or other public place and meditate, people may laugh
at you or ridicule you, but if you got drunk or engaged in licentious or
inappropriate behavior, they would pay little attention. What others think
is an unreliable barometer to gauge what you should or shouldn't do.
Best
is to examine your own heart and intention and proceed from there.
              
                   * * *

There is one assumption that embarking on the spiritual path entails that
is not very helpful, and it is the assumption that we are not spiritual. After
all, we begin to engage in spiritual practice to attain a higher aim, and
discard whatever  it is that may be hindering achieving that aim. While
this attitude is for the most part well placed, we must realize that it is not
so entirely.

The fact is that all of us have qualities that we often do not sufficiently
acknowledge. These qualities vary from person to person, as do their
strengths. But, no matter how feeble a quality may be, it can be
developed to support our overall spiritual enterprise.

When we set out on the path we seldom take time to carefully assess
those aspects of ourselves that are positive and potential supports for
meditation and other aspects of the path such as generosity, patience,
vigor, and so forth. This is a big mistake. It is rooted in a careless
disregard for the gems already within us as we set out to attain new
heights based on what we consider a spiritual endeavor. But, the fact is
that if we carefully scrutinized ourselves, we would find much to value.
Sometimes, qualities may seem so weak that we don't recognize that by
effort we can strengthen them and bring them up to a level where they
are truly supportive of our spiritual ambitions.

The spiritual path is difficult no doubt, but ways to make it less so may
be lying unnoticed and yet most worthy of our attention. We can all make
achievement much easier by thinking more about what good already lies
within us, and developing that, rather than what needs to be disciplined
or eliminated, as is most often the case for those new on their spiritual
journey. A balance is their and each of us should find it.

                 * * *
Thought for the Day: August 16, 2016

Fewer mistakes are made by one who is fugal with his actions

                 * * *

People like to be powerful, whether in a small way, or big way, it is a leak
out their power by being seduced by entertainment, meaningless
socializing, and so forth. And,then they wonder why they not only don't
have power over their affairs, but are run over by them.

If we wish happiness and a positive attitude we must be disciplined and
refrain from all laxness and laziness. We all wish to be on top of things,
but often just the opposite is the case not because of the way we carry on
our affairs, at work, chores such as shopping, caring for kids, and so
forth, but because of how we spend our free time. Idle time gives us the
illusion of freedom to relax and chill out, but when we do so our guard
falls down and we create the kind of karma that creates dispositions
lending to an impotent and powerless ability to mold one's life according
to the dreams we have.

                * * *

Thought for the Day: August 18, 2016

Doing the right thing, may require more time and energy to determine
just what that is, than the right action itself, but it is time well spent.

                * * *
"Money is power," my teacher, Trulshik Rinpoche, once said to me. I
often think of these words, and try to use the power of money rather than
wish for it and by good fortune get it are destroyed by it. If we don't
want
this to happen we should reflect on the way money influences us and ask
ourselves are we in control or is the money in control. Avoid using to do
attachments.

                * * *

Thought for the Day: August 20, 2016

Life is a gift and to continually seek more than what is offered, obscures
the many gifts right beneath our nose.

                * * *

Many things that Buddhism talks about we may already be familiar with,
but don't recognize it because we are not familiar with the Buddhist
context. Mindfulness is a word familiar to all practicing Buddhist, but
non
Buddhist may wonder what it means, although they struggle with it
constantly in their daily lives.

Mindfulness is what is on holiday when we are kicking ourselves for not
doing something that needed to be done, and the time has passed to do
it, and the little voice inside reminds us as if to rub it in. In common
parlance, mindfulness is "being of top of things." Not being mindful
would be, "being beneath the wheel."

Learning to "stay on top of things" is what Buddhism teaches us through
the practice of mindfulness. It has been developed like a science to help
us accomplish our aims with less struggle and more satisfaction. It is one
of Buddhism's foundational teachings and a real gift to all of us. Does it
not behoove us to take a little time each day to study how to practice
mindfulness?

                * * *

Reason and analyses are powerful tools that we can use in daily life to
help us develop skill in meditation. We are all familiar with these twin
tools, but often lack the strength for them to really be effective and serve
us. For, example, we may apply reason or analyses to some problem, not
necessarily spiritual, and our mind drifts to tangents and we fail to remain
at the core of what it is we wish to think about. We become side-tracked,
and lack focus.

The aim of reason and analyses is to penetrate to a state of clarity or
certainty about whatever problem is perplexing us. We apply the tools of
The aim is to make sense of it all. If we practice this to resolve worldly
concerns, it will inevitably be an aid that supports spiritual inquiry for
addressing much more subtle questions that confront us on the spiritual
path.  As we strive to disentangle ourselves from disturbing emotions,
skill in reasoning and analyses will enable us to resolve subtle more
fundamental human concerns.  The nature of the "I" thought, to whom
it refers, the character of the world we live in, and how we can better
know it and our relationship with it, can all be tackled by inquiry.

Our daily activities  provide ample opportunities to set aside time to really
deeply think about our lives and how to fulfill our aims. Giving time each
day to think about what we are doing, without allowing our mind to drift
here and there will gradually strengthen our mind to tackle more subtle
confusions and bring certainty and peace into our lives.

                * * *
A story is told about a village where everyone had cataracts that caused
noticed this because they referred to his conch shell as yellow. No matter
how hard he tried, he couldn't convince them otherwise, because
everyone else agreed it was yellow. Many times we may have experienced
something similar. Some children take a good deal of convincing before
It 's hard to judge what is right or wrong by listening to the gossip
around the water cooler. Everyone is drinking the same water and often
the talk is unprincipled and merely gossip. As we move through life, we
form many opinions, opinions which will make a significant difference in
the depth of appreciation we have for life. We think that we think, but
what we do is skip from one thought to the next, like a stone skipping
across the water, never going beneath it. Moving in such fashion may be
OK for a skipping stone, but our thoughts should go deep, we should
dive deeply into them. Often the way we think is similar to gossip at the
water cooler at work; it doesn't go very far. It may be a way to pass the
time, but it won't bring lasting benefit.

When we find ourselves caught up in gossip with people and we are not
feeling comfortable, we should not be afraid to withdraw, in fact doing
so might even win their respect. By the same token, if, when alone, we
find our mind like a skipping stone, we should slow down and inspect
what is going by, and take control and investigate with analyses and
reason our fleeting thoughts. Seize on one particular idea and staying
with it.
If we maintain a stream of consciousness on a single topic without
allowing our mind to drift to other things, it will gradually gain strength
and grow accustomed to remaining on topic. The result will be a deeper,
more settled, and responsible sense of being.

                     * * *
those who manage their time well, fare far better than those who don't.
Tasks such as picking up our children from school, driving to work,
time. And, if our time runs short, we feel anxiety, pressured, trapped
beneath the wheel, frustrated, and so forth. Time is a luxury that we
often don't have enough of. Our time is finished, but the task isn't.

Our lives from the time we are born to the time we die are also
constrained by time. While each day is framed by time, each of our lives
is as well. We have only so much we can do in a single lifespan and then
we die, whatever we completed is our testament, and what was left
unfinished is, as well.

Whatever we have accomplished or left unfinished will not be so much
far off on the horizon as the days, months, and years of our lives past by.
We past through life acting as if it would go on forever, and now when it
comes to a close, we wonder why feel impotent.

The aforementioned predicament of helplessness in the face of death can
be remedied by thinking about its reality years before it visits us. Even as
a youth, it is appropriate to entertain thoughts of death, not because we
may die young, but because it grounds us into the state of affairs that
condition our existence, whether we be young or old. Being ever mindful
of our immortality is to live in dignity and die with dignity.

                * * *
It is often said in sutra texts that whatever faults we see in others, we but
implied, is that whatever qualities we see in others, we also have. How
we see others should be reflected well upon because if we do we can
find dirt to sweep away and gems to mine.
                * * *
is, and the reverse is also true, what we think is good, is thought so
because we have conditioned ourselves to think it is. Looked at this way,
there is no real standard for good or bad. To ground ourselves in a path
to happiness we must turn to the texts of people who have attained true
happiness to establish a basis for conducting ourselves in an enlightening
and that.

All people wish to be happy, and that happiness is elusive because we
often don't take advantage of the teachings whose aim it is to point up
the fact that our selfish striving does not bring us the happiness we seek.
Instead, to become happy, wiser people have introduced those who
follow their teaching in a counter-intuitive direction, that of striving to
bring happiness to others as an indirect way of achieving our own.

All of us, no matter how selfish we may be, at some point have made
someone happy by some effort or material gift that required personal
sacrifice on our part. And, we more than likely derived considerable
happiness from that sacrifice, happiness that certainly offset our sacrifice.
These events should be made the rule rather than the exception. In
short, we should strive to be other-centered, rather than self-centered.

               * * *
Thought for the Day: August 27, 2016

A standard problem meditators face is one of time, and it is often said,
"I can't find time to meditate. A big part of this problem could be that
because we are trying to fit it in between other responsibilities and we
meditate we should feel a sense of ease and lightness, certainly not the
mental and physical comportment fostered by being "squeezed."
before anything else in the day, and close the day when the sun goes
down with another period devoted to rituals, meditation, or both. I think
I am now living in Nepal and the locals always place their devotions this
is a good example for Westerners to follow. Even a resolve to meditate
five minutes as we rise and a few minutes before dinner will I am now
living in Nepal and the locals always place their devotions help us build
a practice. Having a fixed time, however brief that may be, can go a long
way towards developing the meditation habit, and building a strong
practice. In time, it will be something much looked forward to everyday,
a time to rest within and absorb our mind and thoughts into themselves.
               * * *
Thought for the Day: August 28, 2016

We may not seek the same  kind of happiness, but we all seek to be
happy. The kind of happiness we seek depends on our conditioning and
natural predispositions. Therefore, what we mean when we talk about
happiness will vary amongst individuals because we define happiness
differently.

The lowest form of happiness is the happiness derived from things. It is
considered the lowest, because as we all know things wear out, and we
are lucky if our happiness can last as long as the things that initially
made us happy.

The big illusion about things is that we think that the things make us
happy. But, if happiness came from things, then the same things would
effect everyone the same way. So it is obvious that happiness does not
come from the things themselves, but what we project from outside
onto  them.

degrees of happiness depending on the depth of our relationship and
has a much bigger capacity to instill deep joy if we cultivate
understanding and intimate and honest exchanges of thoughts, feelings,
and ideas. The happiness shared with others, is much higher than with
things, because things cannot share our experience, but people can.

The happiness derived from understanding the nature of the mind
surpasses all others in its potential to bring real inner peace that settles
once and for all all seeking.

The three forms of happiness mentioned above cover all forms of
happiness. The first two supports the last. When we gradually wean
ourselves away from seeking happiness in things, and have fewer
attachments to material things, we will naturally seek deeper relations
with others to compensate the illusory happiness we initially sought in
things. As our relationship with others becomes deeper and more
profound, we will naturally seek a deeper relationship with ourselves.

The tools necessary for approaching the three kinds of happiness
mentioned above in a manner that is going to be most beneficial for us
is outlined in many scripture and even some New Age books have done
a good job of encapsulating ancient ideas, but not all New Age books
have, so we must be selective. Misery and depression have a natural
limit, but happiness does not. We can become infinitely happy. Is that
not something to be happy about?

                       * * *
practice well within our own level. The temptation to practice above
our level is always there, and our inclination will be to try to step up
before we are able, but staying put will assure us of reaching that goal
                      * * *
journey should be with a qualified guru or mentor, and never the
subject of casual conversation. When we talk lightly with others about
matters dear to our heart, those things will become less clear and
intimate. It is almost the same kind of loss of intimacy couples may
experience if they talk too much to others about their romantic
moments.

The above being said, we should recognize when we need guidance
and someone with whom to discuss the technicalities of our practice
and the experiences. A qualified teacher is an indispensable aid that can
significantly shorten our journey. If we do not have someone that we
regard as our teacher, we can attend the teachings of masters who pass
through our area and find the opportunity at the end of an instruction
to meet with the master. Never hesitate to give an attendant with a note
stating your request. There are also frequent question and answer
sessions at the end of teachings which may serve your purpose.

Always seek guidance, but discriminate well its source.

               * * *
f we wish to benefit others there are two basic ways we can think about
it.
We can think for example, "Who needs help, where am I needed," and so
forth, or we can think something like, "How can I offer myself in service
to
others today, what sacrifice can I make, can I make someone feel better,"
and the like. The two ways of thinking are similar, but produce slightly
different mental attitudes.

The first approach, scanning outside our mind thinking about what can
be
done, is not quite as good as scanning within our mind and thinking
about
what needs to be done, what is tugging at my heart but not being
acknowledged. We don't want to be a "do gooder" because they often
run
around like chickens without heads, offering help everywhere but where it
is needed. The first option often leads here.

The second option, scanning inwardly to see what it is tugging at our
heart
but being brushed aside is more likely to benefit both ourselves and
others.
Is there anyone we have been thinking of helping, but avoiding, is there
any
gift we have been thinking of giving, but holding back, are there any
words
we have been thinking of saying, but keeping within, are the kind of
questions we should pose to ourselves.

Helping other invariably is accompanied by a sense of personal sacrifice.
It
is this sense of sacrifice that actually connects us with what we are doing.
Without it we are merely running around doing allot of good deeds that,
no
matter how good they may appear, we feel no real connection to, and
often
feel frustrated because of feeling no sense of reward either.

* * *
It is not up to us to "make up our mind" but rather to see the making of
our mind. We need to allow ourselves to see how our the mind naturally
ourselves how we can assist it to be in such fashion. This requires that we
be non-assertive, abandoning wishing it to be this way or that, and refrain
from imposing any disposition whatsoever upon the mind. This requires
trust in the mind's natural ability to be a foundation for our happiness
and
well-being, without our trying, pushing, and shoving it around, molding it
into this or that.

            * * *
Thought for the Day: September 3, 2016

Faults that we try to conceal to ourselves or others will always be hidden
and buried away, indirectly affecting us, like an undiscovered disease
might afflict the body. Things don't go away by wishing they would, but
rather through welcoming them into our awareness, and being open to
others about our faults even as we might our strengths.

Buddhism uses the analogy of a paper tiger to illustrate the point that
much of what we fear is harmless. Ironically, we let go of things by
bringing them to the forefront of our mind, close enough to see the paper
that they are made of. As long as we keep faults at a distance, they will
seem very real and fearsome.

            * * *
Thought for the Day: September 4, 2016
When we die our only real friend will be whatever tiny amount of truth
we
absorbed as we passed through this cycle of life and onto the next one.
If,
when we pass away, we can look back on our life and reflect on the
service and kindness we have offered others, the material gifts we have
given, and the time we have given nurturing others to a better life, and in
addition reflect on a lifelong practice of meditation under the guidance of
a highly qualified teacher, then we will depart in peace, and travel well in
the hereafter and into the next life. This is my friend, Arlette Alexander,
who died yesterday.

We will stay in touch!

          * * *

Thought for the Day: September 5, 2016

Being content in one's skin is not easy in our modern world with so
much
peer pressure and advertisements encouraging us to be very different
from
what we may naturally be inclined to be. In fact, peer pressure, social
media, and advertising can get us so confused that we forget or fail to
recognize our goals and sources of happiness. We can drift so far from
our true nature that we lose touch with ourselves completely and don't
know what we want. Losing touch leads to frustration and depression.

We should keep in mind that advertisers hire psychologists to figure out
ways to manipulate people. They are experts who do not have our
interests in mind at all, but only their financial ones. Our peers are not as
skilled, but equally manipulative. They are also interested in making you
think like they do. While it is not necessary to be a recluse, we should be
able to engage with the world while at the same time maintaining a strong
sense of self.

Setting aside time each day to be alone for an hour or more in meditation
or even for a well disciplined daily walk, can go a long way towards
keeping a healthy perspective of who we are and remaining centered in a
very busy world. Hobbies, such as gardening, cycling, exercise, yoga, and
so forth, when well regimented, will also serve us well.

          * * *
difficult to develop many of the qualities that would give us strength
within. We may be able to do everything from record TV movies for later
watching, open our garage without leaving the car, heat or cool our home
with the push of a button, and a plethora of gadgets to entertain our
mind.
But, so far no button to push to turn off our anger, a switch to flip to
dissolve our jealousy, or a gadget to reduce our distraction, and so forth.

We cannot keep pace with the world if we renounce the modern
developments offered to us. But, we can discriminate between the
genuine
necessities and the things that we hanker after, and avoid as much as we
can the latter. Peace of mind arises when we are well grounded in our
own
personal identity. When we leak out into the world of attachments, we
weaken all that is so precious to us. Advertisers are very clever at hiding
this from us and creating the illusion that their offerings are actually
empowering us.

If we want to be at peace with ourselves we must be alert to recognize
the
enemies robbing us of it. It is not easy to do this, but a general effort
towards simplification can go a long way towards reconnecting with our
sense of self and inner strength. This sense of inner well being is what is
really valuable to us and we honor ourselves when we cultivate it.

          * * *
Thought for the Day: September 7, 2016
Happiness is a viewpoint and not linked to any support. The reason it is
so elusive is that we imagine the particular things, people, or events will
make us happy. While they do, no doubt, there is also a flip side because
not having material things we want, unwanted people in our lives and
unfavorable events can make us unhappy. And, even if we do get what
we
want, it never lasts long and is, therefore, unsatisfying.

Those who have found happiness in a unified voice say that nothing
causes their happiness. When we meet such people, we notice this. They
radiate happiness from within that does not have any external supports. It
is worth noting that all of such people are not poor yogis, mystics in
seclusion or anything of the sort. Many who have mastered the mind are
living in luxury, have fancy cars and dwellings, and yet their mind does
not
touch any of these things. They are mere objects in their lives,
manifesting
because of their karma, just as the cave manifests for the impoverished
yogi. If one is not attached to what one has, it does not matter if one has
much or little, but if there is attachment, even a begging bowl is too
much.

If we wish to achieve happiness, we must realize it has nothing to do
with
anything but our outlook, the way we view ourselves and our lives.
Therefore, we should always have a positive outlook and never allow
ourselves to be brought down by misfortune and the like. You are above
and independent of all that goes right or wrong lack or plenty, and we
should all guard ourselves never to allow external circumstances to
obscure this fact.

          * * *
Thought for the Day: September 8, 2016

Doubt is a demon that will undermine any positive initiative we make, if
we let it.
Those of us who have tried to improve our lives by beginning meditation
know very well how easy it is to become discouraged, especially if it
seems
we are making very little progress. It is almost as if doubt is built into us,
and thus the saying: "When the Buddha grows a foot, the demon is
already ten feet tall."  

Confronting doubt is best achieved by taking on less in the beginning and
being very disciplined. It is helpful to attend teaching of those with great
self-confidence, those who are authentic and realized teachers. Merely
being in their presence from time to time will encourage us and support
our confidence. We are fortunate in modern times that many renowned
teachers are giving regular teachings throughout the world. This is a gift
to
all of us.

While doubt is built in and even the seemingly self confident individuals
are troubled by it, we also feed it by taking on more than we should.
When we are anxious for results, we seek to skip steps on the ladder and
fall back. And, each time we do, we undermine our confidence. A well
controlled and humble effort will get us to the goal without mishap. Take
it easy. Never give up," as H H Dalai Lama advises.        
        
               * * *
Thought for the Day: September 10, 2016

When a discussion turns into an argument, it is time to walk away. Both
sides are already losing when the neck swells and the face reddens, and if
this starts happening to you, gain control of yourself enough to say, "Can
we continue this another time?"

The saying, "nothing is worth arguing about," has allot of truth to it.
Moreover, when the mind is agitated clear thinking goes on holiday and
the likeliness of a resolution becomes slimmer and slimmer the longer the
argument continues. Far better to create the opportunity for clear thinking
by walking away and taking a deep breath.

Avoid the potential for argument by defining clearly agreements
appointments, arrangements, expectations, and so forth. Clarity in the
beginning reduces the potential for obstacles in the end.         
        
               * * *

But, sometimes we all at one point or other have to put the breaks on
because we are allowing ourselves to become trapped by various things,
where we are forward looking and enjoying our inquires, and instead feel
we are being pushed and shoved to know more. That tipping point is
difficult to recognize before we get there, and once there, there is no
turning back.

Tuning our mind  so that we can foresee various traps our mind creates
for us before we fall into them is clarity and mindfulness, and it is usually
cultivated through meditation, contemplation, and so forth. But, it can
also be as simple as learning to rest in not knowing things. When some
thing perks our curiosity and we follow it, we may not be as well off as if
we asked ourselves whether or not we really have to know whatever it is
vying for our attention. Many time this little inquiry will lead us to
appreciate not knowing, rather than knowing. We don't have to know
everything.        
        
               * * *
Thought for the Day: September 12, 2016

If you want the respect of others, discipline your conduct. If you want to
respect yourself, discipline your conduct.    

           * * *

Many people claim the they do not understand the dharma, and there are
reasons are just excuses and some are very legitimate. For example,
many see a big contrast between what they perceive as dharma practice
two worlds seems insurmountable. Others have looked at a few books
or attended a few teachings and find that the material is not inaccessible.
Of course there will be those who simply say that they find the dharma
unbelievable and therefore are perfectly content going on with their lives
without introducing anything new or taking any risks. Lets talk a little
about these three barriers.

One advantage we have today is availability of a wide range of material
in print or electronic form. We also have many qualified teachers (and
many merely posing as such,so beware.) But, assuming we have the
good fortune of meeting reliable teachers and finding reliable material,
there is the problem that although the material is right and the teacher is
qualified, it is not right for us. The piece of the puzzle is not fitting
where it should and we feel frustrated. Those who are new to the
dharma, often select teachings or attend lectures not suitable to their
level of understanding, or even interest. The inevitable negative
experience, throws a blanket over dharma practice and study, and creates
a negative attitude. There is just too much availability and selecting a
suitable teaching becomes almost a random or blindfolded exercise. This
is one of the few pitfalls of abundant availability, but it is a significant
one.

Keeping to basics and building a strong foundation is not attractive to
many, but a little care and patience when entering the dharma and a
willingness to seek foundational teachings can take one a long way
towards finding a starting place that will keep one in the race and not
giving up. We should not fault the dharma for diving in over our head,
but instead be humble and begin at the beginning. Eventually what had
been seemingly obscure will become clear.

Another point often not significantly taken to heart is that dharma
practice takes time to take root. It is not something that we just try to see
how we like. It takes commitment and this commitment in turn ties in
with the above in the sense that the teachings we seek to understand is
suitable to our level and not above it. We should be leery of any attitudes
we entertain seeking immediate benefit, but rather be content with small
changes and benefits that will endure.

Last, and most important, one must have two kinds of faith. Of course
one must have faith that the dharma is true and not false, and the other
is faith in oneself. Put these two together, and our effort will not fail.

              * * *
Often opportunity demands change, and because we are unwilling to
change, we sometimes fail to recognize opportunity.  Mental pliancy is a
quality to cultivate for it enables us to adapt to change and take
advantage of opportunity. Without mental pliancy, we may fail to
recognize change even when it is staring us right in the face.

How many times have we reflected and said to ourselves, "I should have
done that," "I missed the boat," "I should have listened to myself," and
so forth? Often a lack of responsiveness to favorable change is caused by
rigidity. We are stuck in our ways and fail to see or choose a better way
when it presents itself.

Change is often felt as a threat. We feel that our comfort zone may be
destabilized. But, our so called, "comfort zone" may, in fact, be a rut
from another perspective. Many of us do not have a sense of our real
self-worth. We allow ourselves to settle for less, rather than push
boundaries.

Whenever we feel like we have let an opportunity slip away, we should
not just be aware that it happened, but we should carefully consider why
we let it happen, what kind of thoughts and attitudes held us back. A
little reflection can take us a long way. Often when displeased with
ourselves we do just the opposite. Instead of reflecting on our mistake,
we seek distraction to take our mind away from it.

All that has been said above applies in both an everyday sense and a
spiritual sense. Whether we consider ourselves spiritual or not we should
always value ourselves and make sure we do not short change ourselves.
We often indulge our imagination reflecting on good times, and there is
no reason whatsoever that bad times shouldn't be included. A little
honest reflection can ensure us against repeating mistakes and overcome
the obstacles that caused us to make them.

            * * *

Thought for the Day: September 17, 2016

Life offers many lessons, so we must listen well and learn.


            * * *

Being inspired goes a long way, providing valuable support for anyone
pursuing a seeming out of reach goal, especially a spiritual one. In
addition to "practice" texts, which deal with the mechanics of ritual,
meditation, conduct, and so forth, which demand considerable effort to
absorb and put into practice, we need lighter texts that will inspire and
support that effort. The lives of the Masters have been an important
support for many who have travelled the path and attained realization,
and their study can be for us, as well.

When we study the paths of those who have walked them, we will find
that they have  undergone many trials, faced many obstacles, and been
tested in many ways. We will recognize some of these as similar to our
own, and find a source of joy and inspiration in their success, and
support that will give us the confidence we need to achieve our ends.

Learning how others approached the dharma, can help us to discover
new ways that may be more effective than what we are doing or show
how to do what we are doing better. Seeing that they achieved their
ends can instill faith deep within us and this faith is the foundation on
which much of our practice will rest. The sacrifices others have made in
the pursuit of truth will help us to see the importance of discipling
ourselves and renouncing what need be renounced. Rejoycing in the
merit and virtue of others is considered one of the "Four Limitless
Minds" and the cultivation of this quality will ease the way of a difficult
journey.

         * * *

Thought for the Day: September 18, 2016

Master Hsuan Hua explains:

"All the different external and internal states we experience, whether
good or bad, defiled or pure, are planted as seeds in the eighth
consciousness. The seeds of every event, circumstance, and experience
are stored away in that store consciousness. If you cultivate and turn
that store consciousness around, then it becomes the Nature of the
Treasury of the Thus Come One. It is just a matter of being able to use
it. If you can use it, then the great perfect mirror wisdom will appear. If
you cannot use it, then you just keep on having false thinking. And all
the false thoughts you have, whether they come about or not, still get
stored in the eighth consciousness. Even the most subtle kinds of
mental activities, impulses of which you are completely unaware, get
stored there as seeds."

Vasubandhu, Bodhisattva. Shastra on the Door to Understanding the
Hundred Dharmas . Buddhist Text Tranlsation Society.
Without a healthy body, it is difficult to meditate properly. While
distracts the mind cannot be ignored. While great Masters who have
released themselves from attachment to the body and its hankerings,
those of us who have not need to pay it due respects.

As little as one half hour morning and evening devoted to basic
stretches and simple yoga postures easily found in introductory yoga
books ca assure us that our body is pliable and supportive of mediation
practice. We will not become fatigued or tired even if we sit for one
hour, if we maintain this discipline. If we don't, we will find ourselves
either becoming restless and squirming on our meditation cushion, or
dozing off in a torpor.

Another factor to consider aside from meditation support offered by
yoga is the fact that it tends to generate a cheerful disposition that will
follow us throughout the day, and if we do yoga in the evening it will
help us to sleep better.

Needless to say, a simple diet of light and nourishing foods is essential.
Snacking should be avoided. Exercise combined with right nutrition
will help us avoid depression and dullness whether we meditate or not,
but if we add meditation this brew, we will become able to help others
as well.
      
                    * * *

Thought for the Day: September 21, 2016

So pay this body due remuneration,
And then be sure to make it work for you.
But do not lavish everything
On what will not bring perfect benefit.

Regard your body as a vessel,
A simple boat for going here and there.
Make of it a thing that answers every wish,
To bring about the benefit of beings.

Shantideva. The Way of the Bodhisattva: Shambhala Publications.
      
                    * * *
One who is jealous of others and/or stingy with one's resources, he will
always be impoverished no matter how much he has. Avoid stinginess
and jealousy like poison.

                    * * *
Thought for the Day: September 23, 2016

Today a friend who is a Buddhist monk showed me a video of a well
known Hindu religious teacher critical of Buddhism. I found in it an
interesting perspective that I hadn't really thought about before and that
is the fact that we impoverish ourselves when we try to diminish
another. This teacher said that Lord Shiva had over one hundred
emanations, and that Buddha was only one of them.

As this teacher spoke his own stature grew smaller and smaller. Yet, his
audience, all devout followers absorbed what he said as if it were an
elixir of sorts, not knowing he was offering poison. One of the things
Buddhists learn early in their career is to use discriminating awareness
to discern the true from the false, and separate that which is of
substance from that which isn't.

Learning to recognize true principle is essential to the path we all follow
no matter what religion we belong to. Much of what we hear whether
we are Buddhist or otherwise, is simply unprincipled, without sense,
and impossible to build upon. There must be a logic and reasoning
supporting the words and phrases we speak, not hollow words lacking
substantial meaning.  There must be something to sink our teeth into if
we are to nourish our mind.

Empty dialogue is common and yet many are trapped by it. In the case
mentioned above, the audience was trapped by the charisma of their
teacher as he sat in elegant silk and swung a bell as he spoke. It was
good theater but poor teaching. Entertainment should not be confused
with a lecture of substance that can help us to unravel the obstacles
obstructing the path leading to deeper awareness.

                    * * *

It is said that most businesses fail because they "spread themselves out
too thin." This means that after getting one business going, they start
another, then another, and so forth. But, they do not get each business
fully operational before starting another and soon all the business suffer
and collapse. Something similar can happen to dharma practitioners
when they try to do too much dharma. For example, we go to a White
Tara initiation, and over a year or two accumualte perhaps as many as
ten initiations. But, we haven't even gained proficiency in the first one
and all suffer as a consequence.

If we had gained at least a little skill in the initial initiation, we would
have no difficulty applying some of the lessons we learned towards the
other initiations. But because we didn't do that, we are stressed to
practice them without the necessary skill and our practice fails. All of
this could have been avoided if we hadn't been so greedy for the
dharma, for the dharma is like a two edged sword and used improperly
can create confusion rather than cut through our ignorance.

If we have faith in the dharma, we will not chase after many dharma
practices, but find one or two that we can practice comfortably and be
content dedicating ourselves to them. Once we get some skill practicing
what we have undertaken we will understand others, as well. A great
Master once said: "Because I understand one dharma door, I
understand all dharma doors."

We are fortunate that in our modern society there is much printed
dharma available and many lectures by reputable masters that we can
attend. This availability of dharma will be a great advantage to us if we
use it properly.

                * * *
In many ways the dharma is just an enhancement of our common
values. A good example of this is found in the word "attitude." This
word is often spoken as a reprimand such as , "Change your attitude,"
the same word to describe an enlightened all embracing state of
awareness, which is a higher sense than the common usage, but arrive
at the transcendental sense. One school of Tibetan Buddhist practice
even goes by the name, "Mahamudra," which means the "Great
Attitude."

On a practical level, if we always reflect on our attitude we will see our
mental disposition, whether there is pent up anger there, prejudice,
compassion, self-loathing, tolerance, and so forth. Often these attitudes
go on unnoticed, but by stilling our mind in reflection we will notice
them. Once noticed, we can focus to increase positive attitudes, and
diminish negative ones. Simple observation will do this, so we don't
have to think that one attitude is "bad" and one good," but instead
evenly place our mind on both, and have faith in the process.  In other
words, we become aware of these attitudes, but don't try to reject one
and embrace the other, but rather just let the mere awareness do its
work without interfering.

The "Mahamudra" mentioned above means the "Great Attitude"
because it is all embracing. Our mind does not move, yet we are aware
of everything and effortlessly do everything. While it may be far more
an enlightened way of seeing things than our common outlook, we
come to realize it by using our everyday attitudes as a stepping stone
towards it. We do this, as mentioned above, by resting simple
awareness on our everyday mental dispositions, being content with just
being aware, free of all judgemental attitudes. It takes practice, for in
the beginning we will try to embrace good attitudes and disassociate
from negative ones, but with practice we will be able to watch them
pass before our mind as we might watch a play or cinema.

                * * *
comes our way, we can make it the good fortune of others, as well. eye
of a friend or relative, but if we guard it and are stingy, we are
imprisoned by whatever we have received. Therefore, we should keep
The practice of non-attachment is the key to happiness. Those who are
made happy by small things are easily contented. A little bit goes a
long way for them, and because they don't need much themselves, they
find it easy to share abundance when it comes. Without the practice of
non-attachment, increase will only cause us to want more. Greed is
why many who are wealthy chase after even more wealth.

What I have said above is no secret, but one might think it is if we
judge by the activities of our ever so busy society. A bit of reflection
on the lives of monastics across the religious spectrum would reveal,
however, that they share one thing in common (amongst many), and
that is the simplicity of the monastic lifestyle. Monastics have few
possessions, virtually no entertainment, and engage in very little idle
talk. When we look at them, their faces are aglow with peace and
contentment.

We don't have to be monastics; the everyday world exists for a reason.
But, we can take a cue from the monastics and embrace some of their
disciplines in our lives. To some extent, with a little imagination and
ingenuity, whatever the monks and nuns are doing, we can adopt in
some way. The principles that govern their lives are not confined to
monastics. If we seek out those principles and apply them to the
informal context of our everyday world, it will enrich our lives.

                               * * *
Opportunity often comes disguised. It is not packaged as we might
expect and slips by beneath our radar. Thus, we often hare ourselves
saying, "I should have done such and such," or, "I should have known
recognizing that we failed to employ what we already know or have,
and not that we needed something more, either material or otherwise.

The question arises as to why we fail to mindfully interact with a
situation according to our capacity and only recognize the opportunity
to do so when it has already passed. The reason is usually that we were
distracted by something else we were doing or thinking about and were
not present in the moment. Having fewer things to busy our mind and
distract us is a solution. A simple lifestyle is conducive to being present.

Most of us could do less and have less and feel all the better for it.
Ironically, simplifying our lives adds additional value without adding
anything. Simplicity is a worthy goal. Finding joy in less is a safer bet
than seeking happiness in more.

                                * * *
"Vow-Power" is exalted in many sutra texts and those who possess it
develop a stability within that not only supports themselves, but others
who come under their guidance, as well.

Their are generic vows such as eating once a day (for monks,
)abstaining from alcohol, not killing, not stealing, and so forth, and
personal vows which target our individual attachments and false views.
The aim of a vow is to undermine whatever faults we find in ourselves.

We should think carefully about the vows we make because
performing an action that violates a vow is more serious than the same
action if we hadn't made a vow. The reverse is also true, keeping a
vow strengthens us more within than not making a vow and
maintaining the same conduct. Therefore vows should be looked upon
as supports to our spiritual growth, but at the same time we must be
mindful of the consequences if they are not maintained well.
                                * * *
Thought for the Day: October 1, 2016

Happy "Dasain" to all my friends in Nepal, and all the beautiful people
there. Enjoy your festival. Unfortunately, by no plan of mine, I will be
traveling to America this day and won't be able to join you.

Life offers many challenges, and if we accept them all, we will be
overwhelmed, if we don't accept enough, we will be lazy, and if we
accept the wrong ones, we will grow crooked. So, we must discriminate
worthwhile challenges from those that are not, and take on only enough
to keep us busy without being overwhelmed.

We must be careful not to be drawn into action we may regret later, or
reject worthwhile opportunities because we are lazy. We must be careful
not to underestimate our ability, or overestimate it. Working within our
ability will be much less stressful than working beyond it.

If the tasks we choose are beneficial and tend towards inner growth, it
will be far easier to do than tasks we don't believe in. Look for
challenges that inspire.

Whenever possible, work with a person your equal or better, as this will
encourage you to work at your highest level.

One important point my father drilled into me when I was growing up is
the importance of liking what you do even if it may not be the most
lucrative. Always try and find the tasks that suit your natural inclinations.

     * * *
reasoning and logic in Buddhist practice. They inquired because in their
counterproductive. Chan emphasizes meditation, generally single pointed
concentration on a symbol or a mantra. This kind of approach is also
common amongst beginners in any school, more than likely because it is
the easiest.

People like to daydream and there is no better way than to recite mantras
to do that. Once the manta is memorized it is quite soothing to spend an
hour or more delighting in your own mental state. Such a person is like a
beautiful women delighting in her own appearance in a mirror. Needless
to say, this is undesirable, pleasant though it may be. Analytical and
reasoned meditation comes to the rescue here.

The purpose of logic and reason is to help us develop what is known as
the "right view" without which most will get stuck in a blissed out
quagmire mentioned above. While analytical meditation should not
necessary replace mantra recitation or visualization., it definitely should
be combined with it. Its practice will help us develop understanding
which serves to balance concentration.

There are ongoing debates that have been going on for centuries
concerning the nature of the external world and our relationship to it. Is
the material form we see a solid object or does it dissolve moment by
moment? Is there and eternal soul that transmigrates from life to life, or
not. Are the objects of our thoughts within the mind or outside it? What
is the referent of the word? When we name a cow, for example, are we
referring to an object we have contact with through our senses, or are we
attaching the word cow to a mental image caused by that object, and so
forth?

Questions such as the above have engendered lively and involved debate
for centuries. They are the kinds of questions we pose for ourselves
when engaged in analytical meditation. We pose for ourselves questions
like the above and reason about them trying to maintain a train of
thought that stays with the topic without wandering. Then we compare
our line of reason with those found in the texts and see how we did. We
will notice that often our mind drifts from what we are supposed to be
thinking about just like it does in mantra recitation and so forth. We will,
in the beginning, constantly have to bring it back onto the topic of
meditation.

If we stay with the practice of analytical meditation, we will find that
after some time our mind becomes absorbed in the inquiry and that we
no longer drift about here and there, but rather genuinely enjoy being
absorbed in the inquiry.

     * * *
ever creative nature of the mind. But, as we all know, diversity often
creates stressed boundaries, each division finding reason to think their
own way of thinking is superior to the other. Even though we may be
correct in thinking that technically our "view" is higher than another's,
we should not let this be a cause of division, for we should realize that
the various levels of practice are essential as the capacities of beings
everywhere are not the same.

Many traditions have meditations to help us dissolve prejudices where
they occur. Mahamudra, popular in the Tibetan tradition, is an all
embracing and expansive meditation practice that embraces all
distinctions, whether internal or external, and in doing so rises above
needless discrimination. Many other forms of meditation are similarly
therapeutic.

Divisions are only useful when they help us contain our meditation
within particular constraints that enable us to narrow our focus so that
we are not overwhelmed; divisions are not meant to set one view against
the other. If we find ourselves prejudice or biased, we should keep in
mind the purpose of divisions as an aid to meditation and not a cause to
criticize or set one view against another.

   * * *

Thought for the Day: October 4, 2016

"It is important to diminish undisciplined states of mind, but it is even
more important to meet adversity with a positive attitude. Keep this in
mind: By greeting trouble with optimism and hope, you are undermining
worse troubles down the line."

The Dalai Lama His Holiness; Hopkins Ph.D., Jeffrey. How To
Practice: The Way to a Meaningful Life,  Atria Books.

   * * *
Thought for the Day: October 5, 2016
Consistency is a powerful support for all dharma practices. Our effort
our effort over a long period. Our practice will be erratic, sometimes
practicing, but sometimes feeling a lack of energy. From the start, we
should find a sustainable balance between exertion and laxness and walk
a comfortable yet not relaxed pace. Time is our friend, and we should
use it to pace ourselves, set goals, boundaries, and help us plan our day.
A specific time should always be set for dharma activities, rituals,
meditation, and so forth. Schedules work.

Fickleness should be avoided. Meditating one day and skipping another
will not work and will instead lead to abandoning our practice. The mind
and body respond to a steady application of effort and not otherwise.
Keep your practice simple and sustainable. It is better to take on little
and maintain it, than too much and be irregular.

   * * *
Be a support for others and be supported by others. As much as
possible, practice the dharma with other people. Even gathering once a
seekers is mutually supportive. Such a group of people is called a sangha
in Buddhism, and Christ alluded to a similar idea when he said,
"wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there I am also."

 * * *
the very language that we use. We talk of "seeking" happiness and of
things "making" us happy, for example. Such an attitude separates us
from it by the very way that we conceptualize it. A better way would be
to assume that the happiness is already within us and only waiting to be
let out.

One of the best ways to increase happiness is to share it. Sharing it does
not mean talking about our latest new thing or bragging about our
accomplishment or some happiness realized in some superficial way, but
rather sharing with another how we were uplifted upon hearing about or
seeing someone else' achievement or sharing the happiness of another in
some other way. We often delight in the joy another felt upon achieving
a goal, and this natural response should be cultivated and shared.

It is said that the very nature of the mind itself is happiness and that it is
merely covered over by our constant thinking and seeking. We need to
let that happiness out. We do not necessarily have to have a reason to be
happy. If the outward turning mind is slowed down it will gradually turn
inward and when it does we will naturally feel happier and reflect that
happiness.

Believe in yourself. We undermine the fundamental belief in ourselves
every time we chase after something or someone we don't need. The
first step towards discovering happiness is realizing the virtue of
contentment. Rest the mind in itself; there is no need to do anything
else. The happiness will arise without doing anything else and without
support. Share this happiness as much as you like; it will never decrease,
but rather increase the more you share. When you are of a happy
disposition, those around you will feel it and become happy also. Is this
not wonderful, is this not something to strive for?

* * *
The source of all depression and unhappiness can be avoided if we are
We are each, individually, one person, and even when all goes well, our
happiness is limited to one. But, others are many, and if we change our
orientation from self seeking to seeking the welfare of others and
rejoicing in their happiness, we increase our potential for happiness
many fold. Is this not a worthwhile ambition?

With a little imagination we can delight in the accomplishment of
another as if it were our own. Technically, in Buddhist terminology, this
is called "rejoicing in the merit and virtue of others." We do this by
putting ourselves in their shoes and visualizing how happy they must be.
Engaging in this form of meditation will increase our mental dexterity,
and mental dexterity is fundamental to success in all forms of meditation.

In addition, we should always try to help others achieve their worthwhile
aims, even at the cost of putting our own on the back burner. "Put
others first," is a good rule to live by for ever increasing happiness. Try
to help others fulfil their wishes.

Changing our perspective takes time. We have been conditioned to think
in a very narrow framework for most of our lives and changing habitual
tendencies does not happen without effort and time. We have to
undermine old ways of thinking, weed them out, so that new growth can
supplant the old. But with determination we can accomplish our wish.

               * * *
An interesting fact about meditation is that there is a caution, a sort of
disclaimer, that applies as well to raw beginners as advanced adepts, and
happiness of a meditative state. For a beginner, it will lead to either
getting stuck on one level or quitting altogether, and for one far along
the path, it can lead from getting stuck in a blissful "heaven" or falling
into demonic states or regressing on the path.

Unless one has the good fortune of being under the guidance of a good
teacher, it is easy for one not to recognize when one is attaching in a
unwholesome way to meditation. We should always moderate our
meditation. This involves analyzing our attitude towards meditation and
reflecting upon it to see if there are any signs of being "blissed out," or
being self-absorbed, as a beautiful women might be while looking at
herself in a mirror.

Meditation that loses its sense of struggle has also lost its potential to
advance us further on the path. Like anything else in life, the sense of
being challenged should always be there. If it diminishes, we will fall
into complacency, and that will introduce us to other dangers. Being
mindful, humble, and on guard for being a little too comfortable, can go
a long way to assuring we stay on the path and progress.

              * * *

Thought for the Day: October 10, 2016

which is the ability to stay with an object, not allowing distraction. You
exercise mindfulness by putting your mind back on its object of
meditation every time it falters, which will happen again and again.
When you become skilled in maintaining mindfulness on the object, you
need to use introspection. As Shantideva’s A Guide to the Bodhisattva
Way of Life says, the special function of introspection is periodically to
inspect your activities, whether physical or mental. In the process of
developing calm abiding, the task of introspection is to determine
whether the mind has come, or is about to come, under the influence of
laxity or excitement.

Initially you must forcibly put your mind on the object of meditation
with great exertion; then from time to time you engage the object
without great exertion; then you engage it in a relaxed way continuously;
and finally you spontaneously stay on the object without needing to
make any effort to remove excitement and laxity."

The Dalai Lama His Holiness; Hopkins Ph.D., Jeffrey. How To
Practice: The Way to a Meaningful Life Atria Books.

              * * *

Conflict is never a good thing. Where there is conflict, there is no
communication. It does not matter if it is conflict with another, or
conflict within oneself, wherever it is present, it is an obstacle and never
an aid. We will talk here about conflict within oneself.

When we feel conflicted, we cannot communicate with ourselves, our
thoughts become muddled and confused, and decisions are difficult to
make. If we analyze what causes conflict within, we will find that most
often it boils down to conflicting desires. We feel pulled in two or more
directions and this stresses us out and we lack the clear direction we so
much need to be at peace.

Few desires, few problems, many desires, many problems. If we wish to
reduce conflict within, a good place to start is simplifying our lives and
finding contentment in the things that we do. In our modern society, we
are conditioned to think that we have to do everything, be part of every
group, have the latest gadgets, drive a new car, and so forth. The world
wants us to think more is better and not less. Abundance rules over
frugality.

We are but one person, but often think as if we were many. To do
everything on our busy schedule would takes two or three or more "Me"
and maybe still not get everything done or accumulate all we wish for.
Therefore, the first thing is to analyze what we need and discriminate that
from what we want. Taking stock of our lives from time to time will help
us towards greater simplicity. Where there is simplicity, contentment
follows, and where there is contentment, conflict ceases and does not
arise.

Non-dualistic thinking is essential for peace of mind. We cannot feel we
are being pulled in multiple directions and be at peace. The possibility for
inner struggle is greatly reduced when our lives are simple and we are
content with few desires. Less is more because it is appreciated more.
Having a few friends that we are close to is better than many superficial
relationships. Having a few material things that are deeply appreciated, is
better than many things we cannot relate to. And, few social events that
we relate to, is better than many that we don't. We cannot spread
ourselves out to thin and expect to be happy, but rather be self contained
and content with little.

               * * *
I am on a bus to Anaheim, in Los Angeles County, having departed
earlier this afternoon from Ukiah, about one-hundred ten miles north of
San Francisco. It has been a long day, and it is now 2:45 AM.

One thing about plane and bus rides is they give you time  to reflect on
whatever it is you usually don't have time for. I am reflecting on the fact
that all the people on my bus are far more identical to me than different,
although my non-reflective side would think there is a big difference.
But, aside from superficial differences like our work, social status, clothes
and personal likes and dislikes, appearances, and so forth, we are the
same in the most fundamental aspects.

Just as all the other people on the bus seek to be happy, I seek to be
happy. They have families they care about just like I have loved ones I
care about, and that  care about me. They do not wish to suffer, nor do
I. They will die as surely as they were born, and so will I, and so forth.
In the most important ways, the people on this bus are far more similar
to myself than different. Understanding this is important to me because it
will help me to feel a genuine concern for their welfare, even as I do my
own.

The more transparent the boundary between self and others is, the more
in tune with reality we will become. It is an illusion to think we are
different from others, and this illusion causes allot of confusion and
missteps in life. We become jealous of others, angry, deceitful towards
them, and so forth, all to our determent, and entirely unnecessarily.
Taking time to contemplate the sameness of self and others can help us
to have a more in tune relationship with others wherein we focus on
similarities rather than differences.

Finding peace in the world depends on how we view ourselves and
others. We can either integrate ourselves with others or isolate ourselves
from them. The choice is ours.

            * * *

If you have time to eat, you probably have time to meditate. If you eat
and don't meditate, you are probably not as healthy physically as you
would be if you nourished your mind as well as your body. Physical
health is tied to mental health.

         * * *
Meditation is often connected with silencing the mind, and this is often
connected with getting rid of thought, either by blocking them or
rejecting them. But, as all of you know, neither blocking or rejecting
thoughts works very well. So, what is the correct attitude that we should
have regarding thoughts?

We are conditioned to think that thoughts are bad and this creates a
negative attitude towards them. This negative attitude towards thoughts
must be changed. Thoughts arise, and thoughts dissolve. This is the
nature of the mind. To criticize this is as bad, is like criticizing fire for
being hot. Therefore, the first step towards correct meditation is to
change ones attitude towards thoughts.

We cannot block thoughts out or cast the away, but we can refrain from
following them, developing them, or delighting in and being entertained
by them. We can accept them as a natural manifestation of our mind
and just watch them rise and fall without any judgment whatsoever.
Watch them as you might watch a play. When we watch a play, we
would never think of going on stage and getting involved with the
actors, but we just watch the play without becoming involved. The
actors can be likened to our thoughts, and we are just a spectator, no
more, no less.

We should be a good witness to thoughts and not let any slip by
unnoticed, but we should not do more than that. Be aware and awake,
and alert, watch the play of thoughts, and you will gradually find the
path of meditation. Relax and refrain from interfering with the natural
interplay of thought and awareness.

         * * *
Thought for the Day: October 18, 2016
The dharma is neither "proper" or otherwise; it is just dharma. Yet,
some speak of proper dharma as a way to set their dharma above others.
Qualifying like this is a mistake because either it is dharma or it is not
and if it is, it is proper.

        * * *

Thought for the Day: October 19, 2016

Simplicity supports a dharmic way of life. Being content is to have few
desires. Contentment and simplicity go together to create a firm
foundation for spiritual inquiry and growth. If we are distracted by many
desires or have too many things to do, it will be difficult to focus on
practicing the dharma.

Whatever we have in excess should be given away. Simplicity will not
only assure that we will always be prosperous, but it will free our mind
of attachment to our wealth. As for activities, we do not have to do
everything, and if we avoid what is unnecessary, we will be more
focused and enjoy what we do better. Our mind cannot be two places at
once yet we often plan as if it can. When we plan, we should give ample
space between activities so that we can be full present in whatever we
are doing.

A great yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda,  was once asked when he
meditated, and he replied that he meditates when he has nothing else to
do. Often, when we find ourselves with nothing to do, we pick up the
phone to chat with someone or run off to do an errand that could be
put off, and so forth, but we seldom think of reciting a mantra or taking
a walk while reflecting on a dharma teaching. Our spare time is often
wasted and could be better put to use. We should take a cue from the
yogi in this regard.

                * * *
Thought for the Day: October 20, 2016

There is a big difference from failing after trying your best and failing
because of a failure to try. If we prepare as best we can to succeed at a
task, that very effort will be the cloud with a silver lining that will
comfort us with the thought of knowing we had given it our best. But,
when we fail to achieve because of a lack of effort, we will fall and it
Whenever we fail, it is important to be enthusiastic to try again. But, we
won't have that enthusiasm if we hadn't given it our best. Failure born
of lack of effort breeds despondency, discouragement, and depression.
No one wants to be in that position, so we must always try our best.

Always examine the goal and make sure it is worthwhile and one you
believe in and one that will make you a better person. Once the
worthwhileness of the goal is clearly seen, it will be easier to give full
attention to it.

        * * *

The mind is a natural seeker and is always looking for something to
engage with. Generally, it seeks outward; flowing into the world of
things, events, people, and ideas connected with them. But, if we
discipline ourselves and keep the opportunities to flow out to a
minimum, the mind will gradually turn inward and reflect on itself.

Meditation is the use of various techniques to stem the outward flow of
thought and energy and turn the mind inward. Also,when while
engaging in the world we should practice disciplines that will support
our meditation. These disciplines are mainly guarding our speech from
unnecessary talk, guarding our actions from pursuit of attachments to
things and people, minimalizing all forms of entertainment, and staying
focused in all that we do, without letting the mind drift to other things.

Our active lives are the foundation of meditation. The mind that is well
disciplined in active life, will naturally turn inward after a few months
of practice. If we are squirming on our seat during meditation, don't
blame the meditation practice. The fault is likely to be found in an
active life that does not support meditation.

Meditation is an effort that requires dedicating our three karmas of
body, speech, and mind towards the effort. The boarder between
meditation and active life should be less and less distinct until the two
merge. The more we apply the principles of meditation to our everyday
lives, the quicker we will be able to blend the two worlds into a
seamless whole.

                          * * *

Words lose their meaning through overuse, which inevitably turns into
misuse. Two words that immediately come to mind is love and to a
lesser extent, compassion. Because this is so, when using these words,
lesser extent, compassion. Because this is so, when using these words,
lesser extent, compassion. Because this is so, when using these words,
lesser extent, compassion. Because this is so, when using these words,
or even thinking about love and compassion, we must define what we
or even thinking about love and compassion, we must define what we
are thinking about or talking about. It may be best to avoid these words
altogether.

One of the most satisfying gestures we can do in our interacting with
others is care for them or serve them in some way. Caring for and
serving others humbles us and may fill us with a sense of humility, two
highly virtuous mental attitudes. Always look for opportunities to care
and serve others, but avoid pandering to them, as this is offensive.

                   * * *
appreciate enough when it comes our way. We have an abundance of
kindness, but it is covered over by our selfish striving. When our selfish
striving is reduced, kindness will naturally increase. In other words, we
Many times someone is crying out to us for acknowledgment or help,
yet we are so busy with our affairs that we don't recognize the signal
even when it is right beneath our nose. People may be suffering because
of our failure to understand their needs, needs which we could easily
fulfill if we were more sensitive. Looking after personal interests
hardens our hearts to the exclusion of others, often without our even
knowing it. We must soften our hearts through removing selfish striving.

Also, we may not appreciate acts of kindness or acknowledge receiving
them when they come our way because we are living so much in our
world we do not see the part others are playing--- even when it is a vital
role. Or, although we see it, we do not recognize the importance of
others in our lives. We become isolated in our world.

We will be much happier if we show our appreciation to all the many
people that play a role in our lives. A smile, a gesture, a few words of
appreciation will bring us closer together and fill us with joy and
happiness.

                          * * *
Thought for the Day: October 24, 2016

In the West, we are quite different from our Eastern brothers and
sisters. In Asia, people are more patient and humble, and humility is
felt more readily than it is in the West. As a consequence, dharma
practice is more natural to them, and they make it a lifelong effort. In
the West, we are doers, less patient, and tend to be arrogant. We like to
have things our way and use force rather than patience, and a humble
attitude or humility does not come easily to us. As a consequence of
our approach, although we may begin a dharma practice, it will not
come to us naturally, and because of our lack of patience when the
dharma does not dance to our tune, we will often become impatient
As Westerners entering the dharma, we should slow down and realize
that we don't "do" dharma as we do other things. Dharma practice will
not dance to our tune, but needs patience, and a humble attitude. Force
will not achieve anything at all. We have to let go of all ambitions
regarding spiritual growth and let it unfold as it will without
expectations. If we learn to leave ourselves alone and trust in the
process honestly, we are likely to achieve our aim, not otherwise.

                         * * *
that sometimes we may neglect well-established practices as we try and
accommodate new practices and teachings. We only have so much new
at the expense of the old. This tendency can cause very beneficial
practices to fall into neglect, and we may inadvertently set ourselves
back.

While it is advantageous to increase our knowledge base and explore
various means of obtaining our goal, we also must treasure and honor
what we have accomplished and not inadvertently let it slip away. We
have to protect what we have by continuously nurturing it and never
for a moment take for granted hard earned gains. Protecting our
practice will involve curtailing any new meditations, teachings, and
rituals so that we continue to build upon well-established disciplines
and teachings we have received from masters we have long
associations with and not simply run after every promising new
teaching.

Often, we may not recognize our achievement nor how much we are
protected by mantras and rituals we have done for years. We cannot
expect the masters giving teachings to caution us because they are just
focusing on delivering the teaching they are there to deliver. From the
teachers perspective, it is up to each individual to decide how much
time, if any, a student has to devote to a new teaching. Unfortunately,
many students do assimilate new teachings without sufficiently
protecting their established practices.

Often it may be best to go to attend dharma assemblies for the
purpose of receiving blessing from the masters, and no more than that.
Being in the presence of a real master and just hearing his words will
support whatever practice we have without having to practice the
teachings he offers. It is up to each of us to recognize when this is the
case; it is not up to the teaching host.

                         * * *

Two supports to dharma practice are known as sangha and samaya in
Sanskrit, which mean "gathering" and "commitment" respectively.
They are talked about often throughout sutra texts (scriptures attributed
to the Buddha) and texts of masters.

The dharma is to be shared in many ways and to do so we come
together with other
like- minded people to discuss our experiences, meditate, and study
how to practice. Dharma assemblies were common during the
Buddha's time, even as they are today and were not confined to
Buddhism. Christ, for example, alluded to a sangha when he said,
"Whenever two or three are gathered in my name, there I am also."
When we gather together, it stimulates our imagination and interest,
and our mind becomes engaged and ready to absorb the dharma.

When we are members of a sangha we have a samaya or "bond" or
commitment" to other sangha members. This means that we share a
responsibility and sense of duty to help each other in any way we can.
This relationship is primarily a strong aspiration to benefit and support
our other sangha members, however, it is possible. Of course, we are
supported as well, so being a sangha member assures that our own
practice and study will be nurtured when we need it and we will be
able to turn to our brothers and sisters in trust.

The path to realization will make us aware of many obstacles along the
way, and we don't have to face these challenges alone. Others are also
facing similar difficulties, and by practicing together we can get a better
picture of these obstacles and the way to remove them. As human
beings it is an illusion to think that we are not dependent on others,
therefore it is better to be proactive and support our
interconnectedness. We do this when we form a sangha.

                         * * *

The time to seek the company of others is more than likely not when
we are lonely, but rather when we are feeling perfectly content in our
own skin. When we are feeling lonely, we often run out seeking
meditating.

The medicine for loneliness is meditation, for loneliness arises when we
disconnect with ourselves, not when we are disconnected with others. It
is difficult to see this because we have been misdiagnosing loneliness so
long, and habitually seek relief in the company of others. But, although
company may provide temporary relief, it will prove unsatisfying in the
end. We must first find joy within before we can truly enjoy the
company of others. Therefore, we should look at the feeling of
loneliness as a calling to get together with ourselves through meditation
and not a need to get together with others.

                         * * *

When we seek to fulfill our personal wishes we may not feel satisfied
even when all goes well. But, if we fill our desires as a byproduct of
helping another, then this is satisfying indeed. Being mindful of the
needs of others is to have an altruistic intention. When we only have
our needs in mind, it is, of course, a selfish intention. As human
beings, we are capable of having a broad and expansive focus for
self-centered. By broadening our motivation to embrace the needs of
others, we will feel the joy of having our needs met as a secondary
reward rather than a primary one.

                        * * *

but if we hold on to that pain, it is our fault. As much as we may seek
release from the pain of a relationship gone wrong, whether it be a
opportunity to happen and never harden our heart. We make mistakes
and harm others, and visa verse, and we should accept our human
condition while at the same time vowing to correct our mistakes. We
should always provide opportunities for others to amend the hurt they
may have caused us, and never fail to seek forgiveness from those we
have harmed. Life moves on for those who forgive and are forgiven.

                        * * *
But, one word from a saint can slay a thousand demons, while a
thousand demons cannot harm a saint. Therefore, don't pay mind to
ghosts, spirits, and demons, but listen to the saints and follow their
guidance.

If you don't believe in ghosts spirits, and demons, think of them as
afflictive thoughts. If you don't beleive in saints, think of them as the
thoughts associated with self-inquiry. Afflictive thoughts can be many,
but one thought asking the question "to whom do these afflictive
thoughts arise" will, if we are persistent in our inquiry, overturn them.

                        * * *
A small gesture of love and thoughtfulness can mean so much. Yet, the
opportunity to offer it often slips by unnoticed. We may be so absorbed
in
Happiness can be elusive and difficult to achieve, and even when attained
it is slippery and difficult to secure. The newness of material things will
only intrigue us for a short while. People, unlike material things, can
think,
but because our relationship with them is often selfish, the happiness of
our exchanges is governed by the depth of our motivation.

True joy and happiness is discovered when we sincerely serve others, and
the opportunity to serve often appears when we are least disposed to do
so. Whether this is karma playing a bad joke or not, I am no one to say.
But, I can say with certainty that an attitude of openness in our mind and
readiness in our heart will make us mindful of others' needs.

         * * *

If we fear failure, we will not act on many of the good ideas we have.
Yesterday a friend remarked to me that her ten-year-old son said to her:
"Mom, you have many good ideas, but you don't do any of them." And,
then she sighed and said: "He is right, and I often see my ideas used by
someone else."  

Whether the good ideas we have pass on to someone else or not, I
hesitate
to speculate, but it does often seem that way. If we examined why we
don't act on our ideas, we might find that we have too much on our plate
and have little room for new ideas to take root. It is like seeds blown by
the wind into a well-planted field. There is little soil for it to take root and
it will die.

We all may have to do some weeding in our mind ground so that we
have
room for what we have already established to grow properly and a little
extra soil for new ideas to be planted. A little time management and
reflection on how we spend our days can help us to separate what is
necessary from what is clutter. We can do this by developing a clear idea
of our primary focus and supporting that focus by reducing activities that
do not support it. Clarity helps us to create the space we need for new
ideas to take root and established ones to flourish.

The modern world is not friendly to simplification. It willfully offers
every
distraction imaginable, and it does it very skillfully and can fool anyone.
We must understand that corporate America is not interested in helping
us
consume less and do less, and only has its own growth in mind, even if it
is at our expense. We must be smart and sidestep their lure and not
always
think increase, as they would have us, but decrease, which will create the
space we need for our lives to grow.

                        * * *
Thought for the Day: November 3, 2016

involved in the new wave of meditation that is the current trend there.
When I left Los Angeles fifteen years ago, yoga was attracting increasing
numbers of people from various backgrounds, from those who wished to
do yoga, those who just wanted to socialize, those who were stressed and
many others. There were many good teachers and studios and I joined
the
trend with great vigor. I found in yoga a form of exercise that supported
my many hours of day of seated meditation, and continue daily yoga even
today, though mostly on my own. But, while yoga is still possible, there is
a new discipline going on under the name of meditation and many
studios
to accommodate those wishing to learn.

My friend works at one such studio appropriately named "Unplug" and it
was through him that I learned about who attends and why and what
they
do. There is a well established exercise of mind designed to generate
mindfulness which often goes under the name of meditation. It is called
samatha, and it is widely used in conjunction with other practices of study
and discipline to form a path of meditation. But, by itself it will not any
more than physical asanas alone can be called yoga, though it is.

Samatha often takes its form as mindfulness of breathing. One sits quietly
and watches the breath go in and out and knows when it is going in and
going out without confusion. Thoughts inevitably arise and distract us
and
cause us to lose our breath awareness, and we are as if tapped on the
shoulder by a  inner mentor, reminded we have lost track of our breath
and again we must dutifully remove our mind from distracting thoughts
and place it again on the breath. This is said to remove stress and it does.

While the above exercise and many others are excellent ways of removing
stress, it fails to address the problem of the cause of stress. Stress arises
for many reasons and taking our mind of it may provide relief but it will
not help us undermine its causes. This failure to address causes is why in
the East the practice of mindfulness is only part of a broad path that
teaches the generation a compassion and how to actualize within oneself
and not be just a nice concept. Linguistics and language are also studied
as
a means of understanding how and why we think and to enable us to
understand that without words we could not think. Few understand this.

We are stresses for many reasons. We each create our particular
conditions
that create stress, but the root of stress will always be found in seeking
self
benefit without a similar concern for benefiting others. Selfishness and
stress go together, and unfortunately exercises such as watching the
breath
will not eliminate the cause of stress, but will disguise it quite well, at
least
while watching the breath. But, wouldn't it be better to have a clear and
stress free mind which one sets upon the breath and use breath mastery
as
a means leading to self-realization rather than relieving one of ones
burden
of stress?

It is a miracle that thousands of years ago wise yogis had the presence
and
patience to discover the hidden potential of the breath which is literally
beneath our nose. But, lets not lose sight of their original intention, which
is as a tool towards self realization, and not as a device for making one
less stressed out. That task is achieved from changing ones lifestyle and
bring it in accord with scripture, after which we are fit vessels for the
practice of breath mastery.
                        * * *
Thought for the Day: November 4, 2016

When there is nothing going on in our lives, even a small problem or
annoyance can seem great. We try to get rid of problems and pay too
much attention to petty annoyances. Often we enlarge obstacles this way,
rather than reduce their influence. If we didn't focus on them so much
they just might leave us on their own. Rather than concentrate on an
obstacle, we focus on a quality and imagine ways to increase that quality.
This change of focus is known as  "substitution of opposites" a common,
but lesser known, Buddhist way of dealing with afflictive emotions, the
obstacles that cause them, and so forth. When burdened by our
weaknesses, we take an about turn in our mind, and dwell on our
qualities
and ways we might support them and cause them to grow.
                      * * *

Thought for the Day: November 5, 2016

Better to try to make the best of the situation than try to trade it in for a
different one. Truth can be found wherever we may happen to be, and
that doesn't have to be a comfortable one. Our past actions have created
the conditions of our lives and the way to change them is within those
conditions and not by stepping out of them. Transform the negative,
never
ignore it or try  to get rid of it.

                      * * *
Thought for the Day: November 6, 2016

Move forward slowly and don't mind being a little hesitant; it will save
allot
of missteps along the way.

                      * * *

Thought for the Day: November 7, 2016

Respect and honor yourself by being the best you can be.

                      * * *

Being in the forever animated presence of an enlightened Master will
prove itself an excellent stimulus and something to seek out diligently. A
Master's presence will give us the confidence and enthusiasm to practice a
path that is often discouraging.

My Teacher, Master Hsuan Hua, encouraged all whom he took under his
wing, effortlessly. No matter how wrathful he appeared, he could make
each and every one feel encouraged.

centuries. Making offerings to them, listening to discourse, requesting
instruction and so forth are ways to draw close to the Master. If we
practice the teaching we receive with a sincere application of effort, we
will
surely attract his grace and support.

Today many competent teachers travel the globe offering opportunities to
receive instructions and build a practice. His Holiness the Dalai Lama,
for
example, teaches several times a week, as do other Masters. If we don't
have the opportunity to live near a Master and visit him often, then we
should be diligent to be aware of teachers visiting our area and attend
their
teaching, initiations, and so forth. If one lives in our area, we should visit
as often as possible, and make offerings to him.

Being around one who has realized the Truth will give us confidence. We
will become free of doubts and always have an enthusiasm to put the
teachings we receive into practice. The path is strewn with many
obstacles,
never try to go it alone.

                      * * *
Many people do not adopt a spiritual practice on religious grounds, often
saying that they have no religion, or meditation is not taught in their
religion. But, these same people get angry with themselves when they lose
lack direction or focus, and so forth. Meditative techniques were taught
by
meditations are for the most part religion specific. Today, modern
medicine, clearly not religion specific, advocates meditation practice for a
wide variety of conditions.

If we are reluctant to meditate, we should probably broaden our
understanding of what meditation is. We might realize that we are
missing
out on something that would help us very much and make us a good deal
happier, at least ten percent.

Prejudices are often discovered to be ill-founded when examined. For
example, we may have no reason for not liking someone and stay away
from that person. But, as time goes on conditions may bring us together
with that person, only to discover how much we like him or her. Many of
us have probably experienced this. Meditation may, in a similar fashion,
offer us a source of well-being and happiness if we were to give it a try.

Before we put up a wall between ourselves and meditation, we should
ask
ourselves if we are meditation prejudice, and if so, stop, and by stopping
do ourselves a favor. We should always have an open and trusting mind,
particularly towards religion and spirituality, for, without it, we are not
functioning in our own best interest.

                      * * *
Thought for the Day: November 10, 2016
Giving is one of the best ways to free oneself of attachments.
Attachments confine the mind and trap it. We believe certain things make
Attachments, however, do not die easily, and though we may try to
subdue them, they will inevitably chase after us. New cell phones come
out and we want one, right? This is natural and advertisers play into our
natural response by supporting it with clever ads designed to make us
think we must have the latest iteration of whatever it may be.

One solution that I discovered on my own many years ago was to get
whatever I was hankering after and give it to someone else. Several times
I sent my kids to India when I wanted to go, and I gave away more
phones and cameras than I can count, and sometimes little things like
pens, too. I found that the hankerings that bothered my were subdued in
this way. Often I would take great joy in seeing someone else making
good use of it, often thinking they were getting more out of it than I
could have.

Attachments won't go away trying to fulfill them, nor will they go away
by suppressing them. Each one of us must devise a plan that works for
him/her. Giving is one of them.

                      * * *

If we have the opportunity to serve a Master, we should for such
opportunities are very precious. The same is true of supporting temples
widely cultivated because they view meditation as the purview or
monastics, while in the West, the dharma of giving is comparatively little
practiced, but Westerners are stronger in their practice of meditation.

The thought that being a strong meditator offsets the need to practice
generosity is unfortunate because if one entertains such a notion, one is
depriving oneself of an opportunity that would be very supportive of all
aspects of spiritual growth, including meditation.

We naturally look for ways for our wealth to make us happy and must
not overlook giving as one of them. Even if we have very little to offer,
putting a smile on someone's face or supporting a temple, or worthwhile
project is likely to bring us more happiness than if we used the same
funds on something we could do without. If our goal is to be happy, the
happiness of others should be on our mind.

                     * * *

Thought for the Day: November 12, 2016

A spiritual seeker cannot be afraid to be different. Often those at work or
even friends and family are not supportive. If this is our situation, we
must be extra vigilant in our study and make sure that our practice is in
accord with the teachings in both meditation and active life. If we are to
stand on our own two feet, we must be in accord with principle. Take
true principle as your friend and family and you will never feel a need for
other support.
                    
                     * * *

Ask yourself what would be attractive on your deathbed. It wouldn't be
your favorite meal. It wouldn't be an object of lust. It wouldn't be your
favorite car, article of clothing, or hunting rifle. The only thing that
might be attractive at the moment of death is the thought of some good
deed you have done, some wealth you offered, some scripture you
studied, any contribution you made to make the world better.

The reason wise people have advised us, whether young or old, to think
of death is not because they are narcissistic, but helping us live in a more
rewarding way. We are going to die, that is a fact, we are living now and
likely have many years ahead of us, that is also a fact. Although death
may be decades away, we are not only going to do ourselves any harm
by thinking about it now. In fact, thinking about death when it is likely
decades away, can help us live better lives now when we are vital.

Death puts everything in perspective. Thinking about death gives context
to our lives and helps us to avoid trivial pursuits and becoming attached
to transient phenomena, ourselves included as if they were real and
lasting. Give death a chance to give richness to your present by helping
you to live without attachment and a minimal of craving and chasing
after things as if they were permanent and lasting.

                     * * *
Thought for the Day: November 14, 2016

Having a healthy admiration for someone is very different from being
jealous. If we admire someone, we are likely to try to embody their good
qualities ourselves, whereas if we are jealous, we may spend all our
energy resenting them. Jealousy is never a beneficial emotion, it is always
negative. We should subdue it whenever it arises.

                    * * *

Thought for the Day: November 15, 2016

If a simple task cannot engage one's mind and be a source of happiness,
a complicated one certainly will be unable to. And yet, we continually
seek more involved activities. The challenge is to become involved in a
basic activity. Any fool can be tricked into thinking that jumping off a
bridge with a cord tied to one's foot is a bigger challenge than a walk in
the park, but being absorbed in a walk in the park is the bigger challenge.

                    * * *

of us. When they come to the surface, they spoil all our virtue and merit,
and our happiness goes out the window. No one likes to be angry or be
burdened by negativity, but it is a fact of life.

Once negative emotions take hold they are difficult to control; we are
already in their grip and disadvantaged. If we were to examine how we
got ourselves in a disadvantageous position, we would probably notice
that the culprit is idleness. The saying, "an idle mind is the devils
workshop" is true; we make ourselves susceptible to negative emotions
when we are idle. Therefore, keeping the mind positively engaged will
offer protection from negativity.

Never neglect to do the smallest task, for it may protect you from being
vulnerable to unexpected negative emotions. We tend to drift into
unwelcome thought pattern unknowingly and don't recognize we have
done so until it is too late. Whether the task is large or small, doesn't
matter, the mind needs to be engaged. If we are not lax and lazy, but
vigilant and mindful, we will not be overpowered by negative emotions.


                  * * *

Thought for the Day: November 17, 2016

If we are subject to mistreatment, verbal abuse and so forth, we must
guard our reaction, for such times are opportunities to develop mental
strength, forbearance, and patience. Also, trying to defend oneself
against an abuser is often futile for the abuser is in the grip of his
insanity and is only likely to become more abusive if we try to defend
ourselves. As soon as we engage with the angry person, we also carry
some of his anger, or other disturbing emotions, therefore, so as much
as possible, we should be silent and not react to the perpetrator's
negativity.

                  * * *

Thought for the Day: November 18, 2016

If someone is unlikable, it does not mean you should dislike them.
Although negativity may be warranted, it does not follow that we need
to entertain it. The way we react to things is our own responsibility, and
we should take that responsibility as an opportunity to be understanding
and non judgemental towards others and see things in a positive light,
and when that is not possible avoid being drawn into fault finding an so
forth.

                  * * *

Thought for the Day: November 19, 2016

It is impossible to be at your best or your worst at all times. Who is
always consistent? Everyone changes according to different situations
and as they go through life’s different phases. There is no point in
feeling great pride or great shame simply because of temporary
circumstances.

Dorje, Ogyen Trinley. "The Future is Now. " Hay House.  
Thought for the Day: November 20, 2016

Sometimes we may wonder how we can serve the dharma and in the
process make things more complicated than they are. A simple rule of
thumb we might consider is to do things in the spirit of an offering.
This entails doing things well, mindfully, completely, joyfully, carefully,
and so forth. Of course, knowing what we are doing and being fully is
also essential. If the task is a worthy one, and it should be, our full
attention should be devoted to it. Physically, mentally, and verbally, we
should be mindful.

Even the most mundane tasks are transformed in dharmic activities
through engaging in proper awareness and dedication to the task. This is
particularly the case of unselfish actions for the benefit of others, our
family, friends, and so forth. Also, our employment can serve us well as
a place to dedicate our three karmas of body, speech, and mind. Work
can be a testing ground if we allow it to be. Outwardly we perform the
task, while inwardly we discipline ourselves not to drift to other things.

If we use ordinary activities as an opportunity to practice mindfulness,
they will naturally support our spiritual practice, as well. Not only that,
but we will accumulate good karma in the process, for doing things in
the spirit of an offering is a good way to accumulate merit and virtue.
Building a strong foundation for practice is dependent on accumulating
merit and virtue, so we should not miss an opportunity to do so.

A simple rule of thumb is to do things as if it were an offering.
Anything we offer, whether a gift for a friend or something we place on
the altar, we want to be the best because it represents who we are. If we
keep this in mind, we do not have to burden ourselves with many
complex ideas of what it is to practice the dharma.


                  * * *
Thought for the Day: November 20, 2016

"Try your best" is something that the Master Hsuan Hua said many
times daily as he encouraged us to practice the Dharma. These three
words formed one of his essential teachings and has many levels of
meaning. All of us worked very hard at our cultivation, and things did
not always unfold as we wished them to. The temptation to quit what
we were doing was often there as we became discouraged. But, the
Master's words "Try your best," encouraged us to continue and not give
up, the words took the pressure off so to speak, telling us to give it our
all, and don't worry about success or failure.

If we do something and fail and the failure is due to laziness or not
being focused, we will fault ourselves and have little reason to defend
ourselves. When failure is due to a lack of effort, there is little defense.
But, if we look back and know that at least we put forth our best effort,
we will find comfort in that fact, even if we didn't accomplish our aim.

"Try you best" is also an encouragement before beginning a task. These
three words help us to get off on the right foot, to start with the right
attitude, focused, mindful, and careful. We should never begin a task
half-heartedly, but with enthusiasm, and thinking these words in the
beginning will encourage us to begin with the proper attitude.

These three words are a caution, as well. For they tell us that if we
cannot begin with the intent to put our full energy to the task, perhaps
we shouldn't do the task at all, but rather find something we find more
worthwhile.

                  * * *
All of us are victims of anger occasionally. It is almost inevitable at least
to some small extent. Even if our environment is completely peaceful,
we do have to get out and run our errands and so forth. Even little
thing like a car cutting us off, or someone honking at us for not moving
rooted in anger. Gestures of anger are more severe if we live in an angry
environment.

When subject to anger whether severe of minor gestures, we must keep
our bearing and remember that it is not we who are getting angry. Let
the anger coming from the other side stay on the other side and let us
not make the mistake of returning anger. Although the anger heaped on
us is not pleasant, as long as we don't return it, it remains on the side of
the perpetrator of the anger and is their burden. We may be hurt, but we
are not hurt because we are being angry. But, once we make the mistake
of returning anger with angry words and so forth, then we also become
burdened by anger. Therefore, under no circumstances be lured into
being angry.

                * * *

Thought for the Day: November 22, 2016

Therefore flee the company of childish people.
Greet them, when you meet, with smiles
That keep on terms of common courtesy,

Without inviting intimate relations.
Like bees that get their honey from the flowers,
Take only what will serve the practice of the Dharma.
Treat everyone like new acquaintances
And keep yourself from close familiarity.

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

                          * * *
Thought for the Day: November 23, 2016

Be happy. When we are happy, we do things better and with less effort.
Moreover, we should be happy doing the less exciting and menial tasks
even as we do tasks we look forward to. Happiness should not need the
support of whatever it is we are doing, but rather be rooted in an inner
contentment. If we are happy inside, then everything we do is joyfully
accomplished, but if inside we are not happy, we will constantly be at
odds with ourselves even if the task is one we look forward to.

Never run outside looking for happiness, but spend time each day in
meditation developing an inner sense of well-being. Once we secure a
strong sense of our own presence independent of any outward identity
we can go about our affairs and everything we do will be like magic and
fun. The support of favorable outer circumstances can change and go
bad, but not so an inner happiness born of understanding. So, always
work to understand the source of happiness which is within, rather than
the outer causes which are unstable and fickle.

                            * * *
Everyone knows the analogy of the cup being viewed as either half full
or half empty depending on one's perspective. The amount of water
remains the same no matter how it is viewed, but those who view it as
half empty will be dissatisfied, while those who view it as half full will
be content. It is only a matter of perspective.

Today is Thanksgiving Day, a holiday celebrated in the United States
and elsewhere and celebrated in honor of the harvest. It is a day when
family and friends gather together and rejoice in the abundance of what
they have. It is a day to reflect on what we have, rather than what we
don't have.

Whether it be Thanksgiving Day or not it is always better to see the
positive side of things that the negative side of things. Things do not
get any better by merely wishing they were otherwise and if we wish to
change them we may as well get off to a positive start and begin by
seeing things in a positive light as much as possible. Even unfavorable
circumstances have the upside of spurring us on to make things better.

Thanksgiving Day is a day of feasting and rejoicing in each others
company and it is an excellent day to make the resolve to continue to
rejoice in our friends and family and the food nature offered everyday
throughout the year.

                            * * *
Thought for the Day: November 25, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Our surroundings and circumstances continually influence us.
Everything from the people we meet, the things they say, a glance by a
passerby, the weather, and so forth, colors our day. In a sense, we are
like a piece of clear crystal that appears differently depending on what
we place upon it or what shines through it.

The crystal is a good analogy of what we should aspire towards to
maintain a strong sense of who we are as we go through our days in
contact with so much diversity. For just as a crystal reflects so much
change and yet, in essence, remains clear, so should we not forget who
we are as we are subject to diverse influences.

A strong sense of self is essential for cultivating inner awareness and
peace, for it is what allows us to shrug off our thoughts and emotions
heavily colored by our interactions throughout the day and meditate
with a clear mind. It is OK to go out into the world and carry on our
affairs, but we should not get so carried away that we forget who we
are entirely.

                           * * *
Thought for the Day: November 26, 2016

Delighting in Dharma teachings is the first step towards applying
them. And, once we delight in them, we should be cautious not to be
overzealous in their application and overburden ourselves. A little
dharma applied well, is better than allot of dharma poorly implemented.

The study of the teachings will help us to have guidelines that are
essential to developing the right view. Without study, we can easily
delight in going in the wrong direction only to end up where we don't
want to be. To get to our destination, we must study the path and
make sure we are on the right road.

It is also helpful to consider the lives of the Masters to encourage us
and build our faith in the dharma. Faith is a support and prevents
becoming discouraged when faced with the many obstacles that
invariably arise as we practice the way.
Always be conservative regarding how much Dharma practice you do.
Find contentment in small gains here and there and don't look for the
knockout punch. Avoid the mistake of being overly enthusiastic and
getting in over your head. A sure-footed gradual approach is what will
win the day.

                          * * *
Thought for the Day: November 27, 2016

We are governed by desire, and although we hear of many Saints and
Masters who have transcended their desires, the fact is that we as
ordinary people are immersed in them. While desire is the so-called
take shelter from the cold and heat, maintain our health, and so forth.
We cannot just cut off desire and still manage our lives. We are not
Saints.

While the above is true, we certainly cannot stop desires by sheer force
of will; we can take steps regarding our desires that will prevent them
from being the source of obstructive emotions and affliction. The
Buddha never instructed his lay devotees to stop desire, but he advised
them to learn to discipline their desires and take control of them rather
than be led about by them. When desires are in control, we become
vulnerable to negative mental states, but when we are in control of our
desires, we are not vulnerable, or if vulnerable, vulnerable to a limited
extent

Duality is the cause of affliction and obstructions. Where there is a
conflict of desires, duality arises, and we feel obstructed. We can easily
see this by examining a single day in our lives and observing how
duality causes discontentment. We set off to do one thing and
suddenly remember something else we wanted to do, we want to
meditate, but as soon as we sit down, many thoughts demand our
attention, we want to focus on our children, but we also want to go to
the gym, we love our spouse, but are distracted by another member of
the opposite sex, and so forth. Wherever there is duality, clarity is
absent, and without clarity, there is no peace.

All of us can take steps to simplify our lives and discipline our desires.
other way around. We want to enjoy our desires and not be
manipulated by them. When we are in control, conflict is less likely to
arise, and we will be able to fully appreciate what we do. And, last but
not least, consider that desires arise because of our thinking and that
by turning our thoughts inward, they will diminish quite naturally, and
since it is our thinking that causes desires to arise, they will also be
fewer. A few minutes of meditation every day will go a long way to
support all that was mentioned above.
                      
                                   * * *

One of the things that plague many who are beginning the path of
problems and the main reason people give up before they have hardly
started. Doubt arises in many forms. There is self-doubt, which is a
doubt concerning one's ability to pursue the path, there is also doubt
concerning the path itself, wondering whether it is worthwhile. These
are the two primary forms of uncertainty under which many others fall.

If we examine both forms of doubt, we would perhaps notice that if it
were not for strong attachments pulling us in another direction doubt
world be less likely to arise. Attachments are like a selfish friend saying
to us, "Why hang out with the Buddha, wouldn't you rather hang out
with me?"  So, when we are wondering whether we are capable of
practicing the Path, we are actually wondering is whether we want to
give up some of our attachments, or, we may be wondering if the
dharma is worth giving up our attachments for. In either case,
attachments are the culprit.

The aspiration to practice the dharma is a good one; we should never
doubt that. As soon as you make the resolve to practice, your
attachments will seem suddenly more important than ever. You feel
threatened as if the Dharma is trying to take something away from you.
Recognize this as a game of the mind and do not allow yourself to fall
into doubt. If you study the lives of all great Masters, you will find that
they too had doubts. They also struggled with doubts, so we cannot
expect to get off easy. Recognize that the Path has many obstacles, and
that doubt is just one of many that will arise. Accept it as such, and
pursue your aim.
                     
                                  * * *

Thought for the Day: November 29, 2016

Everything is interdependent. No one is entirely self-sufficient. We rely
on human society for mutual support. Harm someone and you weaken
your own support system. Why cause harm to yourself? Instead, try to
help others as much as possible.

Dorje, Ogyen Trinley. The Future is Now  Hay House. Kindle Edition.
                     
                                  * * *
listen carefully. Not only is this simple rule appreciated by others, but
it will assure that you hear what they are saying, God forbid. It may
seem trivial, but everyone likes feeling important, at least important
enough that their words are heard. Even if you may not agree or like
what they are saying, at least listen. This is being respectful, and
everyone likes being respected.

Paying attention to others is an excellent way to remove oneself from
the chatter of one's mind and can be regarded as a form of meditation
itself. Whether the talk is a passing remark in a grocery store, ect or a
talk with friend or family, being present is valuing the other people in
our lives. It diminishes our sense of self-importance, and uplifts other
people.
                     
                                  * * *
Thought for the Day: December 1, 2016
If your mind is so busy that you cannot even hear yourself think, you
have
to slow down. Thinking causes action, and if thinking is unclear, the
actions that follow will be confused.

We live in a world of endless mental stimulus, and things that don't have
anything to do with us are always grabbing our attention. Advertisement
and news present themselves in such a way as to make us think they are
important to us when they are not. We may go to pick up one or two
things at the grocery store, and ten things present themselves as if we
need
them. We may look on our Facebook page to make a post or see what a
friend is up to, and suddenly three birthday reminders pop up. We may
turn on the news to see what is going on in the world, but only see
attention grabbing curiosities presented. All of this is geared to a flighty
mind and also creates it. Media is not, for the most part, presented with
our interests in mind.

The above doesn't mean to say we are doomed, but rather that if we
cultivate an awareness of media's' intention, we will be less prone to
coming unnecessarily under its influence. We will be less distracted and
able to focus our attention on what we set out to do and enjoy going
about our day. We will feel less pressured and cramped and instead more
calm. We must be smart and outsmart the constant distractions the world
offers.

       * * *

When we do things we should avoid using force, either mentally or
physically. Force, whether mental exertion of physical exertion, may get
the job done, but it is at the cost of our own pleasure in doing it. If we
skillfully. We are tiring ourselves out to get the job done, without due
consideration to how to get it done with the least amount of exertion.

There are two thing that are important in any task, one is the end result,
and the other is the means to achieving the end result. Often we don't
give due consideration to the fact that the means that we achieve an end
result should bring a similar pleasure as the result itself.

Take meditation for example. Often people struggle with their thoughts
trying to quiet the mind, without recognizing the fact that each thought
contains within it the seed of its own destruction. They suppress their
thoughts with a considerable amount of energy expended when had they
understood that within each thought itself is the seed of its own
destruction, they could have allowed them to dissolve of their own
accord. If they weren't so quick to view thoughts as an enemy and instead
took the time to understand the nature of thought through study,
analyses, and reasoning, they would have approached meditation more
skillfully and enjoyed the results of meditation and the process of
achieving those results.

applies to meditation, but in everything we do in life we should
understand that the object is not only to get things done, but enjoy doing
them, as well. And we cannot understand this unless we slow down and
consider how to do things in such a way as to work efficiently, making
the best use of our environment and employ our resources to work as an
aid rather than become an obstacle. If we are struggling, we are not
making sufficient effort to understand the nature of the challenges
involved, and working with them, rather than forcefully overcome
them.                                     
       * * *
Thought for the Day: December 3, 2016
A mirror reflects whatever it is before it equally and perfectly. It does not
reflect a beautiful form any better than an ugly one, nor does it reflect a
baby any better than an old person. It just reflects what is before it. A
mirror does not hold on to anything, nor does it block anything.
The goal of meditation is to help us to be like a mirror, free of all
grasping or rejecting or any judging. The goal of meditation is to allow
ourselves to be aware free of any contrived states of mind and to help us
allow the mind to just appear freely before us. The goal of meditation is
not to develop an new state of awareness, but rather to help us to
recognize the pristine awareness that has been with us all along, calling
out to us constantly, but which we were to busy with our own pursuits to
recognize. To goal of meditation is to help us to shut up and get out of
the way.

       * * *

Thought for the Day: December 4, 2016

Cheat and harm others for selfish ends and you will lose their love and
trust. What happens then? Without love and trust, you experience
loneliness—whether you live on your own or in the midst of others.
Imagine no one with whom to share the joys and sorrows of life. Imagine
no one to rely on, no one to turn to for help or confide in, and no one to
love. Tormented and anguished, a lonely person cares not whether he
lives or dies.

Dorje, Ogyen Trinley. The Future is Now  Hay House. Kindle Edition.

       * * *

Many of us have negative emotions occasionally, and some of us have
them often, but no one is entirely free of them. When we meditate some
of us will notice that negative emotions seem to increase, while other
Nevertheless, when they seem to increase, we think that we are
meditating improperly, and, naturally when they decrease or disappear,
we think we are meditating properly, but the fact is, it is just the reverse.
If meditation seems to increase negative emotions and thought, it is a
sign that our meditation is correct. Meditation is making us more aware,
and this increased awareness is making us conscious of afflictive
emotions that might have gone unnoticed. Conversely, if our mind seems
to be without thought or afflictive emotions, it is a sign that our mind is
blanket of dull meditation.

An awareness of negative emotions and disturbing thoughts during
meditation is healthy, but the awareness must be naked. What naked
awareness means is that although we are aware of afflictive states and
disturbing thoughts, we don't follow them, develop them, engage with
them, or anything else. We simply allow our awareness to see them
nakedly, without judging them, trying to get rid of them, engaging with
them, and so forth. We just let them be. The art of letting the mind alone
is meditation.                                  
    
               * * *
Thought for the Day: December 7, 2016
meditative well-being. While engaging in meditation if we experience our
meditation. But, if we feel light ease, pliancy, and are free of discomfort
born of pain, we will have a more productive meditation session. But,
how do we achieve the physical qualities supportive of meditation?

The short answer to the above question is that we gain physical qualities
conducive to meditation through diet and exercise. Both go hand and
hand and are a pair, one without the other will certainly not get one very
far. People eat too much and exercise too little. This is because we are
lazy and like to eat, as we all know. But, we can change our habits as
surely as we have created them. A little discipline goes a long way
towards creating patterns that will bring greater happiness and sense of
well-being into our lives.

Time governs our lives in many ways. If we just watch the breath, we can
see that. The body and mind respond favorably to well-maintained
routines. The first thing we should do to develop our bodies to support
our meditation is to establish times for eating and exercise. The amount
of food we eat and exercise we do is up to each of us, but once
established should be kept steady. There are as many forms of good
exercise as there are diets, and we should pick one, and stick to it, and
not allow ourselves to be fickle and switch here and there according to
our whim.

Always begin a new discipline with a conservative approach. Being
conservative means working in baby steps towards your goal, and not
falling back. If we fall back, we will become discouraged and may quit,
and for this reason, it is best to begin conservatively. In time, we will be
able to increase our effort, but there should be no hurry. Grass grows no
faster by pulling on it.
   
              * * *

sensitive that in our effort to serve another we don't interfere with the
recognize if the person we wish to help wants our help. If they need it,
but don't want it, then they won't be receptive, and if they are not must
be sensitive to is our ability to serve. We may wish to help another but
lack the ability. We must be humble and recognize our limitations.

Often the opportunity to be helpful arises when we are least prepared
and are busy with our affairs. Are we ready to serve during these
moments? True service comes from the heart and often we will feel a
conflict with our desires when it is our time to serve. We can do
ourselves and others a favor by cultivating a sensitivity towards
recognizing when to serve where we are needed. Often the cries of
others are going over our head because we are too busy looking after
ourselves. Giving of ourselves often requires personal sacrifice, and a
willingness to make this sacrifice, as well as a sensitivity to see it, must be
cultivated over time and requires deep meditation.

Thoughts have wings. Develop a love for others and a wish for their
welfare. Meditate everyday on the wish to see that others are free of
suffering and attain happiness. This altruistic intention is a very powerful
contribution towards the well-being of all the people in our lives. The
power of our thought should not be underestimated. We serve others
through skillfully using both our body and mind.       

                    * * *

the latter not so. Yet we tend to confuse the two in meditation and this
hinders progress.

We cannot stop the endless flow of thought by force of will or intention.
Thought is like a railroad train and has considerable momentum, the
many cars following the main engine can be thought of as lifetimes of
accumulated habits, dispositions, and propensities to act a certain way
and have various attitudes. These dispositions are not going to change
by wishing them to be other than they are, nor by putting up a wall of
meditation to keep them out. And they certainly won't be stopped by
allowing them to entertain us.

As long as we view thoughts as an enemy of meditation it will be
difficult to properly place our mind on the meditation topic. Instead, we
must understand that the thoughts that appear to our mind have as
much right to be there as the meditation topic itself. But, that is all. We
do not have to follow thoughts, muse about them, or conceptualize
about them. We only need to allow them their rightful space. No more
than that.

                    * * *

When we practice the dharma a certain amount of stupidity is a good
thing. We are not going to attain anything by cleverly manipulating our
mind's thinking as if we were performing a yoga posture. The mind is
far more subtle than the body. It will not be straight when we expect it
to be straight or flexible when we want it to be flexible. All we can do is
observe the mind without interfering with it. If what we are experiencing
is not pleasant, we should not try to create a contrived friendly state in
its place, but rather observe the unpleasant state and ask ourselves how
we can better understand it. We will not understand it better by covering
it over with a more desirable state, but if we let it be, and put it under
the microscope of quiet observation, we may be able to understand it
Growth takes time. We must be patient and willing to learn. Pretending
to be stupid may increase our ability to listen more and develop the
understanding of the roots that causing various undesirable afflictive
states. Understanding requires quiet observation born of meditation and
lots of patience. With the two, gradually the root of affliction will be
understood, and once this root is understood, it will die of itself.

                    * * *

Often those beginning a spiritual journey make the mistake of being too
ambitious. When beginners are overly zealous, they take on more than
they are able, fail to maintain their scheduled recitations, prostrations,
study goals, and so forth, become discouraged and quit. A more modest
approach at the beginning would have been easy to maintain, and
gradually taken root. We would enthusiastically look forward to the time
for practicing meditation, study, and rituals, rather than begrudging it.

Dharma practice `needs to have a routine. It should be the same time
every day and for the same amount of time each day. We can practice
on other occasions, as well, if we like, but some time should be fixed
because the body and mind respond best to scheduled meditation, as
they do exercise, university study, work, and so forth. As surely as the
sun rises and regularly sets each day, and the world flows with time, will
a spiritual practice respond to punctuality. A disciplined approach is also
showing respect to the Dharma and ourselves. It is honoring the dharma
with a time slot in our lives. This time will become our favorite time of
day.

Dharma practice cannot be fickle or haphazard, but rather constant and
performed with devotion. We should always be gentle with ourselves
and never push too hard. A conservative approach will assure that we
are in the race for the long haul.

                    * * *

"Adapt to conditions, but be steady inside."  This saying is a caution
against rigidity. Rigidity is a hindrance that affects our ability to integrate
spiritual goals with our life responsibilities. Often the two realms get
polarized and clash with each other. We must from the very outset of
the spiritual path prevent this from happening.

If we are laypeople living in a non-monastic situation, which most of us
are, we are certain to discover that when we set upon the spiritual path,
we come into conflict with many things we do. Many people we
associate with on a daily basis may have views and aspirations in life
that are very different from our own. We may feel disinclined to interact
with others in our usual way and feel a strained relation with those who
have different values. Often, just to appear "normal," we may act in a
contrived way. Acting just to please others is never anything but a
source of stress, yet we do it none the less. We shouldn't.

If our meditative lifestyle causes us to feel a distance from others, we
should not feel guilty for not conforming to meet the expectations of
others. Often those closest to us who are not on a spiritual path would
rather bring us down rather than lift themselves up. We should not
allow ourselves to be entrapped by the various games people play to put
pressure on us to conform to their ways. Instead, we must be steady
inside, and firmly state the importance of goals and that our ethics, and
so forth will not be compromised to please friends and family who do
not share with us similar aspirations.

                    * * *
Thought for the Day: December 13, 2016

A traditional way of concluding a meditation session or any spiritual
activity, such as reading scripture, performing ceremonies, reciting
mantras, and so forth, is to transfer the merit of your exercise to the
benefit of all sentient beings. Transferring the merit is more than a mere
formality, but regarded as an essential part of any religious practice.

The goal of all spiritual practice within Mahayana Buddhism is to
benefit others through our practice. We seek self-improvement to
enable us to be a more capable influence on others. This altruistic
intention is essential to our growth, as well. The intention to work for
the welfare of others even before our own is common in even in
everyday worldly activities, as when for example a ship is sinking, and
passengers strive to get others off to safety before their own. This very
human quality to care for others is brought to its furthest possible
development when fulfilling the Mahayana goal of enlightenment.

When we meditate with the goal of benefiting others it heightens our
sense of responsibility towards performing our devotions well, for we
are more conscious of the far reaching effects of what we do. When an
awareness of the far-reaching effects of our actions is strengthened, we
automatically perform what we do more carefully and less selfishly, too,
of course. The unselfish motivation is the goal of anyone on the
spiritual path. Although it is almost impossible to begin without a
selfish gain in mind, in time we can diminish it and eventually eradicate
it. When we do this, we have entered the Mahayana.

                    * * *
There are no ultimately wrong or right positions; there are only
provisionally wrong or right positions. Any position clung to will be the
wrong position under certain circumstances, so don't cling to anything.  
A rule may be right most of the time or under ordinary circumstances,
but conditions change, and when they do positions previously suitable
may become unsuitable. If we are clinging to a position or rule, we will
not recognize when to adapt to change and the unsuitability of our
approach to the conditions we now find ourselves in. We will cling to a
position against our best interest and suffer the consequences.
Therefore never cling to any position.

                    * * *

will be less likely to be ill at ease, they will be less likely to be greedy for
things, they will be less likely to find fault with circumstances, they will
attitude we radiate, influences others in a similar fashion. Being positive
creates a positive momentum around us towards the positive. Always
seeking out the qualities of people, will encourage them to develop
those qualities further.  Our presence should always uplift people.
When we uplift others, we are uplifted in the process. Being kind to
others encourages others to be kind. Extract the good in others even
when it is a challenge to find it. Bring the good to the surface, no
matter how deeply it may be buried. Reject no one who comes in your
path, for they are there because you have created the conditions for
them to be. Interact with those conditions and make the best of them.
Be at peace with whatever comes your way and when death comes
your way you will be at peace then, too. Live life with an attitude of
openness and acceptance and death will not be an end, but rather a
continuation.
                    * * *
Thought for the Day: December 16, 2016

Nurture your good roots. Whatever seeds you have planted will not
grow unless you care for them. Often we receive good instructions or
have an insight in meditation only to allow it to lose its strength and be
recalled, if not forgotten completely. As soon as a seed is planted it
must be taken care of and nourished. Repeatedly we must reflect and
think about each glimmer of truth. We must stabilize our insights with
regular and careful attention. If we do this we will grow in
understanding and be less distracted by confusing thoughts that
deplete our energy.

                   * * *
Thought for the Day: December 17, 2016

Wherever we may be, we should recognize when our mind is restless
and seek a quiet place to sit down and allow our mind to settle. Even
if we are driving our car, we can pull to the side of the road for a few
minutes and just sit quietly watching our breath as it enters and
departs. In a busy marketplace, we can find a bench or a chair and just
about them, and how similar we are in so many ways. Reflect on
others and feel a wish arise in you that they achieve their aspirations
and are happy. Relax and take your mind off your concerns. Let your
mind rest and your body rest. Even if it is only for five minutes, let's
learn to give ourselves space throughout the day to let go of our stress
in body and mind and settle in quiet relaxation. Turn off your phone
and feel peace within yourself. `Ignore for a few minutes the many
thoughts that vie for your attention and the urge to move about. Be
still and take a momentary holiday.

                   * * *
ineffective? To understand this, we have to know a little about
thinking itself. We divide our thoughts into broad categories, good and
bad, pleasant and unpleasant, positive and negative, and so forth. We
also tend to think that the source of these thoughts is different. We fail
to recognize that the energy that fuels these thoughts is the same.
thoughts, which is a neutral energy, just as the same fuel that drives an
village.

When we think a positive thought of love, for example, to destroy a
negative thought of anger, we may wonder why we are still angry
despite our best efforts. We may become discouraged because we are
not getting rid of our anger even though we are thinking positively. We
may give up our effort and lose faith in positive thinking. This is a
mistake.

When our effort to think positively fails, the fault is not with the
technique; the technique works fine, but we fail to recognize its
limitations. Positive thinking is a skill that requires time and patience to
develop before it can be effective. A deeply rooted thought of jealousy
and anger may have built up over many weeks, months, or even years,
and gathered a lot of energy and momentum is the process.
Introducing a thought of love, and so forth, may have little
momentum and energy behind it and will likely lack the strength to do
battle with strong, deeply rooted feelings of anger or jealousy. We
should not conclude that we should give up positive thinking, but
rather understand that we have to make our weak thought of love
stronger and take up the responsibility to do that through meditation
on the advantages of love and the disadvantages of hate and anger,
and so forth.

If our positive thoughts are to do battle with negative ones, we must
strengthen our positive thoughts if they are weak and bring them up to
the task of taking on deeply rooted negative ones. Saying, "I am King,"
doesn't make one king! We must win popular support; then we can be
king. Unless we strengthen positive thinking by meditation on its
advantages and undermine negative thinking by meditating on its
disadvantages, we will not be able to achieve the benefits of positive
thinking.

                   * * *
things. Is it any wonder we have so much difficulty seeing the calm
nature of mind when we sit in meditation? If we wish to experience
the peace of deep meditation, we must support our meditation with a
disciplined approach to our daily lives. When we meditate, we are in
the shadow of our deeds; the ghosts of our actions will inhabit our
meditation. The less we do, the fewer the ghosts and the less bleak the
shadow. If we manage to do only what is necessary throughout the
day, we will have few ghosts of our actions plaguing our meditation,
and there will be no shadow. But, if we engage in unnecessary actions
actions haunting our meditation. Therefore, do what you must do to
maintain your family and survive, but refrain from all unnecessary
actions. Avoid following hankerings, in particular, and attachments of
meditation.

                  * * *

No matter how weak we may regard ourselves, it is likely that Whether
and must consider how our actions are going to influence and must
consider how our actions are going to influence those we are close to.
If we are a positive impact on others, happiness will follow us, but if
we let others down, we also suffer. Always encourage others and
influence them in a positive way and strengthen them. Be a support to
others in word and deed and inspire them towards higher aims. Never
for a moment think that your actions only affect you.

                  * * *
A common mistake we are inclined to make when reciting mantras is
to use too much force. When reciting a mantra the correct attitude is
one of interaction, wherein we seek a relationship with the mantra and
the sense of giving a speech, for example, it is much more subtle than
that. Anyone can form the syllables and recite a mantra, but it is a far
more delicate process to feel engaged and connected with it.

If we consider for a moment the way a mother teaches her child to
walk, we can get a sense of how to engage with a mantra. When a
mother teaches a child to take its first steps, her aim is to give the child
just enough support to enable it to walk on its own as much as
possible. She does not tightly grasp its little hands and pull it along but
rather gently holds its hands, providing just enough support to keep it
from falling. She encourages the child to walk on its own.

Just as the mother teaches her baby to walk, should mantras be recited.
As much as possible we stay out of the way and try to coax the mantra
to arise on its own, and we watch it much as a mother might
attentively keep an eye on her baby's first steps as she guides it along.
We don't hold the mantra with a rope, but with a thread of awareness,
gentle supporting it with our awareness without being overbearing. We
stay out of the way as much as possible without letting our support
become too thin that we lose the mantra completely, nor so
overbearing as the mantra becomes like a speech we are giving.

When we recite mantras we should strike a middle path, not being too
overbearing, or reciting weakly, with awareness not precisely placed on
the mantra. The mantra will engage the mind and attract it like a
magnet, with little effort on our part if we strike the right balance
between effort and laxness.

                                * * *
We are ruled by the clock more than most of us realize. The sun rises
nature's rhythm and not in a haphazard way. Time is the unsung hero
in our lives and yet few there are who do not fail to recognize just
how important it is.

Developing a meditation practice requires a disciplined effort to
maintain a schedule over a long period of time. We cannot expect
results if we mediate anytime we feel like it. The mind and body
respond best to schedules, and if we expect meditation to become an
indispensable aspect of our lives we must build a practice that
functions like clockwork. Having a specific time each day set aside of
meditation, and a fixed amount of time, will nourish a practice,
Giving meditation its own time slot in our lives will be the best gift we
could possibly give ourselves. In time, meditation will become an
indispensable aspect of our lives that we very much look forward to.

                                * * *
Thought for the Day: December 23, 2016

Better than any material gift we can give is giving of our self, our
time, and our energy. Being sensitive to the needs of others, listening
and timely advice is a true offering to others. Being a good friend is a
perfect gift.

It is not easy being there for others when they need it. We to have
needs and desires of our own and these often conflict with our desire
to help others. This is why the Buddha taught his disciples to be
frugal with their own needs and have few of them. The less our own
needs distract us, the more sensitive we will be to others' needs and
the better our ability to fulfill them will be. The key is to become
selfless ourselves if we are to serve others.

                                * * *
There are many targets of our anger and unlike other targets, missing
the hater," and continually cautioned his students to keep far from it.
He also said, "a year's worth of gathering wood can go up in a single
blaze." The fact is that anger harms us and is a "poison" we should
keep far away from. However, the reality is that circumstances create
conflict, and whether we deserve it or not, we are subject to anger.
Knowing how to deal with anger when it arises is a benefit to all of
us, and until we learn how to be free of the arisal of anger, it is an
essential skill we must develop.

When we find ourselves angry, allowing it to find its target will not be
a solution, but will only foster the habit of being angry. Instead, once
anger has arisen, we should immediately try to deflect our anger from
its target. Anger is a strong form of energy that can be controlled like
any other form of energy. We can deflect the anger away from its
target and release it elsewhere. If we only block it from release, we
will literally seethe with rage, which is almost as bad as releasing it on
its target. Instead we should use its energy in a positive or neutral
way. We can engage ourselves in household chores, take a long walk
in a park, clean our car, and so forth.

It is well known that activity, especially strenuous activity, can
dissipate anger and free us of it's burden, just as neutral activity aids
depression. If our anger is directed towards a positive or neutral
activity, we will gradually become increasingly less susceptible to
anger. If we apply the antidote for anger, we become immune to it.
Situation which would previously make us angry, we will come to
view with understanding and patience instead.

In addition to responding to angry impulses in a positive way the
redirects them elsewhere, we can meditate on its disadvantages and
reflect on it as a source of pain and suffering. If we take a little time
to contemplate anger everyday, the propensity to become angry will
decrease. Being proactive towards anger is the best way to support a
peaceful and pleasant attitude

                                * * *
Thought for the Day: December 25, 2016
Happy Holidays Everyone!

The root of the inability to be generous can be traced to the false
view that any of us own anything to begin with. Nothing is truly ours.
Material wealth is in circulation and many causes and conditions bring
it our way or take it away. Yet, we cling to things as if we were their
rightful owner, and in so doing are in bondage to things, wealth,
status, and so forth. Our bondage leads to stinginess, something that
we all must guard against. Stinginess inflames attachment and
attachment hinders being open and loving towards others. But, our
ability to give is at our doorstep, and we only need to give to open the
door to greater happiness.

                                * * *
Thought for the Day: December 26, 2016
Yoga teaches physical flexibility; but meditation teaches mental
flexibility. Both are necessary for good health and well being. The
mind in particular must constantly adapt to change and the more
skilled we are adapting, the smoother our lives will flow. Everything
does not go according to plans, and when we are rigid we fail to
accord with change and suffer. If we begin with an open attitude that
is unattached to the course of events, with a willingness to bend as
much as possible to accommodate unforeseen events, we will be
happier and enjoy what we do. If we don't adapt well, there will be
friction and we will have to put forth allot of effort that we would not
have had to if we had greater mental pliancy. Always cultivate mental
pliancy and work less to accomplish more.

                            * * *

Thought for the Day: December 27, 2016

Those desiring to escape from suffering hasten right toward suffering.
fering. With the very desire for happiness, out of delusion they
destroy their own happiness as if it were an enemy.

Santideva. A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life

                             * * *

Thought for the Day: December 28, 2016

A SHARED PURPOSE

People have different characters, interests, and opinions because of
their life circumstances and backgrounds. Nevertheless, let us work
together toward a shared purpose—to eliminate suffering and achieve
happiness.

Dorje, Ogyen Trinley. The Future is Now  Hay House. Kindle Edition.

                                                 * * *
Resolution is formalized intention. First we have the intention, then
we solidify it with a resolution or vow. It’s a two-step process.
Therefore, we must examine our various intentions, for we often
intend to do more than we can do. Once we examined our
intentions, we reflect upon, and consider our capacity to accomplish
our wish. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. So we must
be careful.

Go with the humblest intention. This will obviate the potential for
failure and the suffering that it causes. If we do what is within our
reach, we will enjoy doing the task and reaping the results. We won’t
feel stressed out.

Soon we begin a new year and a new day will set off a new cycle.
Many people make new year resolutions, and many of these
resolutions are not kept.. Keeping the above in mind, we should
make resolutions that are reasonable and look forward to keeping.
Hopefully, our resolutions benefit other people and serve them, and
that all our personal goals are such that we can better serve our
community and contribute our part to the social environment we
belong to.

                           * * *

Thought for the Day: December 31, 2016

The essence of Buddhism is to discover a state of lasting happiness
and to work for the benefit of others. On this path, wisdom and
compassion are inseparable. Little by little, through a process of
investigation, we gradually come closer to understanding the truth.

Dorje, Ogyen Trinley. The Future is Now  Hay House. Kindle
Edition.

                           * * *