Monday
Sep182017

When thrown by a horse, get back on.

Our path is the same. 

When thrown by doubt and difficulties,

get right back on.

We will always encounter obstacles. That’s our reality in samsara. The obstacles may be external: no place to practice, no teacher. Or internal: procrastination, apathy, doubt. If we linger over such difficulties, these obstacles will eventually become impassable. We may then be tempted to give up entirely. Think of this in terms of riding a horse to a distant destination. If the horse throws us, the thought of remounting can be daunting. Do I really want to climb back on a creature who seems so resolutely opposed to the idea? What if he throws me again? I think I’ll walk. Anyone who has ridden horses knows the necessity of remounting right after a fall. Failing to do so, the rider runs the very real risk of never riding again. Likewise, failing to get back on our path when thrown by obstacles, we run the risk of abandoning our practice in this lifetime. 

Thursday
Sep142017

When you have no say or influence 

and cannot bring about any change,

accept the reality of what is.

Just as everything that happens to us is a consequence of what we have thought, said, and done, so too what happens to others are their own self-imposed consequences. And yet, knowing this cause and effect is a natural law unrestricted by time, and thus deserved, we still long to ease others’ suffering. Not knowing whether we can, we try. Aspiring to help we just need to bear in mind that while, yes, our wish to assist is the embryonic stirring of our compassionate bodhi mind, we may well lack the necessary abilities to do so. Just as those we seek to help might well lack the conditions for us to ease their suffering. This likelihood of our not being able to effect any immediate change does not mean we do not try. We do. But in all those times in which we will fail to improve the situation, we need to let go of expectations and readily accept that, regrettably, we could do little for now.

Sunday
Sep102017

Seek wisdom, 

not knowledge.

Knowledge comprises the facts and ideas acquired from external sources through experience, observation, and learning. Wisdom, our innate prajna, is that which already lies deep within our true nature. With prajna, we simply know. Imagine getting caught without an umbrella when it suddenly begins to rain. We wouldn’t stand in the pouring rain analyzing our various options. We’d run for cover! Prajna wisdom is this natural. While knowledge comes to us from varied sources, prajna arises when the mind is tranquil. How? As our mind calms down, prajna bubbles up to the surface of our mind and functions. At first, almost at the same moment, as soon as our bubble of wisdom arises it bursts. But with continued meditation—for us, chanting the Buddha-name—wisdom will arise more often and function longer. Eventually, wisdom will no longer recede. Continuously functioning from it, we will have become a Buddha.

Wednesday
Sep062017

Letting go doesn’t mean we don’t care

but that we’re at ease with our life.

Imagine you’re in a quiet meadow on a lazy summer day with sunlight filtering through the trees, birds singing, a breeze gently rustling the leaves overhead, worries forgotten, fears discarded, nothing to do save be at peace, at ease. To be at ease is to attain freedom from mental constraints, to be composed yet flexible, content yet happy, still yet aware, relaxed yet secure. We achieve ease when we cease avoiding anything we deem unpleasant and grasping everything we are convinced will make us happy. It is the state we attain when we let go of wanting the world and everything in it to conform to our preferences and expectations. No longer struggling, moaning, railing and whinging, we settle into quiet, contented happiness. All this is just a taste of what we will permanently experience when we attain the supreme and perfect enlightenment of Buddhahood: “Great Ease.”

Saturday
Sep022017

If others ask for your opinion, 

respectfully give it. 

If they do not ask, 

respectfully keep it to yourself.

Voicing our opinions isn’t difficult. Doing it all the time, we’ve mastered that skill. Voicing them at the right time is what we have pretty much failed to get a handle on. The right time occurs when others have either asked us to do so or indicated in some way how our views would be welcomed. But if we voice our thoughts in a disrespectful, overwhelming manner, our invitation to speak freely may be quickly rescinded. Offering a viewpoint should be just that—an offering. We should extend our idea as respectfully as we proffer water and flowers to a Buddha. We don’t thrust flowers at a Buddha image or plunk them down and leave. We offer with appreciation, grateful for the opportunity. We should offer our viewpoints in the same way, for the truth is that someone wanting our opinion is rare. Very few people do.