Often a gift received, then presented to another, 

brings us more joy 

than if we consumed it ourselves. 

Usually, when someone knows us and has selected something we enjoy, we happily use it. It’s only good manners! The fact that we like the high mountain tea or those luscious dark chocolates has nothing to do with it. We’re just being polite. Honestly!

But what if we didn’t consume our gifts?

What if we, in turn, give the tea to a tea lover who probably has never savored this rare kind? Or give the chocolates to someone who wouldn’t think of splurging so on herself?

If we drink the tea and eat the chocolates, they’ll soon be gone. Especially those chocolates. We wouldn’t want to keep recalling the wonderful aromas and tastes because that smacks of attachments. But imagine our joy when years later a cup of tea is handed to us and the aroma triggers the memory of how much our good friend enjoyed his tea.

Our own personal pleasure is immaterial. Others happiness truly matters.



If you have to ask if it’s wrong, 

it very likely is. 

Asking our teacher for help in trying to figure out what we should do will often solicit advice to chant the Buddha-name. The purpose being that the chanting will help our mind become tranquil. This will allow the answer to be perceived, just as a no longer agitated pool of water will disclose the sand at the pool’s bottom.

Why doesn’t the teacher just tell us what to do?

First, her role is to teach principles, not decide for others how to live their life.

Second, she doesn’t need to tell us. We already know, just haven’t realized it. At least not clearly. An inkling is there. Its presence becomes more apparent when our appeal for help begins with “Is it wrong to . . . ? ”

If we’re wondering if something is wrong, it’s because we’re uneasy. Something about the action doesn’t feel right. That’s very likely our elusive inkling.

And so we need to ask ourself whether what we’re considering is something we could live with, be at ease with. If not, perhaps we should give it a pass.



While listening to the Dharma, 

simply absorb it. 

Looking back fondly, or not, getting ready to start another year at school invariably entailed getting new supplies. A big decision was—the notebook. What size? Color? Two-hole? Three? How many dividers? Such decisions were crucial because some serious note-taking was about to be undertaken. 

Older now, notes are possibly even more important because increasingly anything we want to learn or remember needs to be written down.

And so, at a Dharma lecture, we whip out pen and paper, determined to take copious notes. But the first thing we hear is, “Don’t take notes.”

No notes? Seriously? How will I remember what he said?

Relax. For one thing, when you’re writing, you’re not listening. Even more important, when concentrating on what is being said, we will hear what we need and are ready to. Keep attending the talks or listening to the recordings. Each time, our understanding will deepen and solidify.

And each time we listen, we will absorb what we need.