Monday, December 11, 2017

Tao Te Ching

In the pursuit of learning, every day something is acquired. In the pursuit of Tao, every day something is dropped. Less and less is done until non-action is achieved. When nothing is done, nothing is left undone. The world is ruled by letting things take their course. It cannot be ruled by interfering. - Tao Te Ching

All things arise from Tao. They are nourished by virtue. They are formed from matter. They are shaped by environment. Respect of Tao and honour of virtue are not demanded, but they are in the nature of things. By virtue, they are nourished, developed, cared for, sheltered, comforted, grown, and protected. Creating without claiming, doing without taking credit, guiding without interfering. This is primal virtue. - Tao Te Ching

Better stop short than fill to the brim. Over sharpen the blade, and the edge will soon blunt. Amass a store of gold and jade, and no one can protect it. Claim wealth and titles, and disaster will follow. Retire when the work is done. This is the way of heaven. - Tao Te Ching

Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill. Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt. Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench. Care about people's approval and you will be their prisoner. Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity. - Tao Te Ching

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Emptiness is the True Nature

According to the Buddha’s teaching on emptiness, (also known as ‘selflessness’), all phenomena are like an illusion. Emptiness is the actual, correct way in which everything exists: things and beings, animate and inanimate. It is the ultimate, true nature of all things.

Emptiness is not nothingness; it does not mean that things do not exist at all. Things do exist, but they do not exist the way we think they do. Our mind projects a way of existing onto the objects we perceive – like an extra layer on top of what is actually there – and then we believe that things really do exist that way. However, they are empty of the false, mistaken way of existing that our mind projects onto them. That false way of existing is called ‘inherent existence’, ‘independent existence’ or ‘true existence’. It means that we see things as if they were permanent, independent, existing from their own side, in and of themselves. If we carefully analyze, we will come to see that things do not exist in this way – that such a way of existing is false, an illusion.

Take a flower for example. When we walk into a room and see a flower in a vase, we instinctively perceive the flower as something permanent, unchanging, existing all on its own, as if it did not depend on anything else for its existence. It seems very real, concrete, out there, existing in and of itself – almost as if it is saying: “I’m a flower. I’ve always been here and always will be here, just like this!”. The flower appears to us and we believe it to exist in this way. But this way of appearing and the actual way the flower exists are quite different. In reality that flower is impermanent, dependent on various causes and conditions, and not existing in and of itself. The flower came into existence in dependence upon a seed, soil, moisture and sunlight. It grew little by little and when it was in full bloom, someone cut it and placed it in a vase. Its existence is also dependent on its parts: stem, petals leaves, as well as on the cells and atoms that make it up. When first cut, the flower was fresh and beautiful but as the days go by, it withers and turns brown, and soon it will die and be thrown away. That is the true story of the flower, but that is not what we see when we look at it. When we look at it, it seems to be permanent, unchanging and independent of anything else.

Furthermore, our mind grasps at the object being a flower from its own side, not realizing that ‘flower’ is just a name people have given to a certain phenomenon with certain characteristics, and that people of other languages would call it by other names. So, although there appears to be a real, solid, permanent and independently-existing flower existing out there, in and of itself, when we investigate and search for such a flower, it cannot be found. Such a flower is an illusion – like a dream or a rainbow. It appears, but does not exist the way it appears. But this does not mean that there is no flower at all. There is a flower – an impermanent collection of parts that came into existence in dependence on causes and conditions, is changing and will go out of existence, and to which we give the name “Flower”. That exists, but not the permanent, independently-existing flower that we perceive and grasp at when we say: “Oh, isn’t it beautiful!”

In the same way, all things appear to be permanently, inherently, independently existent, but on closer examination, we realize that they exist in a completely different way. And that is their reality, their true nature: being empty of inherent existence.

This tendency to perceive, believe in and grasp at things as truly existing or inherently existing lies at the root of all our problems. Fear, worry, frustration, dissatisfaction, loneliness, grief, pain, and all the other myriad problems and sufferings of mind and body that we experience are caused by this attitude, which in Buddhism is known as ‘self-grasping ignorance.” We all have the potential to enjoy ever-lasting peace, bliss, wisdom and freedom from all suffering – the state of enlightenment of Buddhahood – but we are unable to attain this as long as our mind is caught up in ignorance, and does not understand the true nature of things.

Self grasping ignorance pervades our view of everything. We see ourselves as inherently existing – we cling tightly to an illusory image of a permanent, independently existing I or self. We hold on to self-limiting concepts about ourselves, believing that mistakes made in the past have become permanent aspects of our personality. These ‘permanent faults’ become the basis of low self-esteem and even self-hatred, obscuring our potential to be pure, perfect and free – an enlightened being. All this arises from ignorant misperception.

Moreover, we tend to cherish our sense of self, as if it were the center of the universe. Out of this strong self-centeredness, we develop desire and attachment for people and things that make us happy and support our sense of I, we have aversion and fear towards people and things that disturb us or threaten our sense of I, and we are indifferent towards whoever or whatever neither helps nor harms us. Believing all these people and objects to also exist in a real, permanent, independent way further intensifies our attitudes of attachment and aversion. These attitudes disturb our mind and motivate us to create negative actions or karma, such as harming our enemies, and lying or stealing to benefit ourselves and our loved ones, and this karma is the cause of suffering and problems in the future. Self-grasping ignorance is also the main factor that keeps us circling in Samsara, the cycle of death and rebirth.

That is why we should be concerned about our tendency to see things as truly or inherently existent, and why we should learn to perceive things in their correct way, as empty of inherent existence, or, as it says in the verse, as ‘illusory’. Perhaps a simple way to understand this is by thinking of the analogy of a rainbow. Due to certain conditions in the atmosphere and the play of sunlight and moisture, a rainbow appears in the sky. Although it looks as real we would like to touch it, it is insubstantial, a momentary and completely dependent on causes and conditions. It exists for a while and then disappears. Everything else, all conditioned phenomena – animate and inanimate – can be compared to a rainbow. Although most things last longer than a rainbow, the way they exist is similar: they arise due to the coming together of different causes and conditions, exist for a while, and then, again due to causes and conditions, they go out of existence. So, like a rainbow, they are illusory, empty of permanent, independent, substantial existence.

Keeping in mind that all things are illusory, one should engage in the practice of The Dharma, the path leading to enlightenment, without grasping at anymore or anything as truly existing. In this way, one frees him – or herself from disturbing states of mind and karma – the causes of all suffering in the prison of Samsara – and works to help all other living begins to likewise become free.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Secrets of Nature

The lessons in life is contained in Mother Nature. In order to learn and benefit from these lessons, one has to be humble. One has to be calm, one has to put aside his ego and his assumed superiority. Only then can he gain greater ‘insight’ into the invisible realities behind the material appearances of creation.

Our objective senses are limited and can be faulty and do not lead us to the truth of actuality. It would be wiser to appreciate nature with our psychic or inner selves.

We need to attune ourselves with the cosmic life force – listen to the voice of existence flowing through air, water – all things as it silently speaks the language which knows no species, nor the barriers of time and space.

- Listen. Really listen with your psychic ear, can you hear the language spoken by a clear, flowing mountain stream? One can listen with the inner ear to any part of nature, be it an element or a friendly four-footed creature. Be still and know.

- See with the psychic eye. We need our inner light to help and guide us in seeing more clearly in the psychic world. See and appreciate the beauty of mother nature – the flowering of a rose etc…..

- ‘Keeping in touch’. Develop your intuition – your sensitivity, and your compassion. Sensibility is the most important step toward attunement of any form. Every human being wants to protect and is so concerned about his or her feelings that we tend to neglect those of the lower creatures of the earth.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Food for Thought

A genuine smile distributes the cosmic current, prana, to every body cell. The happy man is less subject to disease, for happiness actually attracts into the body a greater supply of the universal life energy. - Paramahansa Yogananda
Prana - (the universal principle of energy or force, responsible for the body's life, heat and maintenance.)

When I became convinced that the universe is natural, that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom. The walls of my prison crumbled and fell. The dungeon was flooded with light and all the bolts and bars and manacles became dust. - Robert Green Ingersoll

To follow, under all circumstances, the highest promptings within you; to be always true to the divine self; to rely upon the inward Voice, the inward Light, and to pursue your purpose with a fearless and restful heart, believing that the future will yield unto you the need of every thought and effort; knowing that the laws of the universe can never fail, and that your own will come back to you with mathematical exactitude – this is faith and the living of faith. - James Allen

Monday, December 4, 2017

Suffering

It is not the eye, nor the ear, which hold us bound to the wheel of suffering, nor is it the things perceived by the eye, or the ear. It is the desire of the one for the other that is the fetter. If the eye and the ear are not attached to things seen and heard, then there is no sorrow or suffering. - Unknown

The cosmos is indifferent to human suffering, and, it is sheer folly to expect security or eternal happiness while one sojourns in a cosmos subject to constant change. All along it is suffering. Therefore, detachment is the only way to put an end to suffering. - K. Sri Dhammananda

When someone does not know how to handle his own suffering, he allows it to spill all over the people around him. When you suffer, you make people around you suffer. That's very natural. This is why we have to learn how to handle our suffering, so we won't spread it everywhere. - Thich Nhat Hanh

The ego says, ‘I shouldn’t have to suffer,’ and that thought makes you suffer so much more. It is a distortion of the truth, which is always paradoxical. The truth is that you need to say yes to suffering before you can transcend it. - Eckhart Tolle

Our suffering comes from our attachment to people and things, our repeated attempts to find something lasting where there is nothing lasting to be found. - Philip Martin

Suffering is the basic lot of mankind. The only way to end suffering is by purifying the mind. The individual creates his own suffering and it is he alone who can end it. - Unknown

When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That's the message he is sending. - Thich Nhat Hanh

Mind

The mind has an extraordinary power to create illusion through belief through escapes, through dogmas. - J. Krishnamurti

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Buddhist View on Love

Through love one adds to the find of human happiness, one makes the world brighter, nobler and purer and prepares it for the good life better than in any other way. There is no ill luck worse than hatred, it is said, and no safety from others’ hostility greater than the heart of love, the heart which hate is dead.

If one has developed a love that is truly great, rid of the desire to hold and to posses, that strong clean love which is untarnished with lust of any kind, that love which does not expect material advantage and profit from the act of loving, the love which is firm but not grasping, unshakable but not tied down, gentle and settled, hard and penetrating as a diamond but unhurting, helpful but not interfering, cool, invigorating, giving more than taking, not proud but dignified, not sloppy yet soft, the love that leads to the heights of clean achievement, then in such a one can there be no ill-will at all.

Love is an active force. Every act of the loving is done with the stainless mind to help, to succour, to cheer, to make the paths of others easier, smoother and more adapted to the conquest of sorrow, the winning of the highest bliss.

The way to develop love is through thinking out the evils of hate, and the advantages of non-hate; through thinking out accordingly to actuality, according to karma, that really there is none to hate, that hate is a foolish way of feeling which breeds more and more darkness, that obstructs right understanding. Hatred restricts; love releases. Hatred strangles, love enfranchises. Hatred brings remorse; love brings peace. Hatred agitates; love quietens, stills, calms. Hatred divides; love unites. Hatred hardens; love softens. Hatred hinders; love helps. And thus, through a correct study and appreciation of the effects of hatred and the benefits of love, should one develop love.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Meditation

The art of meditation is the art of listening with your total being. If one can learn how to listen rightly, one has learned the deepest secret of meditation. - Osho

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Spiritual

Not to be able to stop thinking is a dreadful affliction, but we don't realize this because almost everybody is suffering from it, so it is considered normal. This incessant mental noise prevents you from finding that realm of inner stillness that is inseparable from Being. - Eckhart Tolle

Whatever you are physically… male or female, strong or weak, ill or healthy – all those things matter less than what your heart contains. If you have the soul of a warrior, you are a warrior. All those other things, they are the glass that contains the lamp, but you are the light inside. - Cassandra Clare

Cease from practice based on intellectual understanding, pursuing words, and following after speech, and learn the backward step that turns your light inward to illuminate your Self. Body and mind of themselves will drop away, and your original face will be manifest. - Dogen

A moment comes when the true self reveals itself. That moment comes when you are willing to be unconditionally present in the imperfection of this moment. A simple change of attitude; instead of chasing after perfection, you allow a total and profound surrendering to the imperfection of the moment. - Tyohar

Even if nobody passes by the side of the rose, the fragrance will still be spreading around, moving... somewhere, somebody may get it. And even if nobody gets it, it doesn't matter; it is simply natural for the flower to explode into fragrance. - Osho

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Religion

Religion as a vital issue is dead except on paper, and whatever beauty-baiting the future may witness will be the work of greed and trade, and not of honest cosmos-facing. - H. P. Lovecraft

Religion is dangerous because it allows human beings who don't have all the answers to think that they do. - Bill Maher

Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet. - Napoleon Bonaparte

Religion is for people who are afraid of going to hell. Spirituality is for those who have already been there. - Vine Deloria

Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration – courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and, above all, love of the truth. - Henry Mencken

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Souls

The living soul of man, once conscious of its power, cannot be quelled. - Horace Mann

The soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts. - Marcus Aurelius

The soul can never be corrupted with the corruption of the body, but it is like the wind which causes the sound of the organ, and which ceases to produce a good effect when a pipe is spoilt. - Leonardo da Vinci

The soul is placed in the body like a rough diamond, and must be polished, or the lustre of it will never appear. - Daniel Defoe

The soul that conceived one wickedness can nurse no good thereafter. - Sophocles

The soul, like the body, acquires vigor by the exercise of all its faculties. In the midst of the world, in overcoming difficulties, in conquering selfishness, indolence, and fear – in all the occasions of duty, it employs, and reveals by employing, energies that render it efficient and robust – that broaden its scope, adjust its powers, and mature it with a rich experience. - E. H. Chapin

Monday, November 27, 2017

Introduction to 'Tao Te Ching'

The most useful words to stimulate an idea of the Tao are found in the 'Tao Te Ching'.

This short book of around 5,000 Chinese characters is divided into 81 brief chapters filled with short, enigmatic paragraphs of advice on life, and poetic descriptions of the nature of the universe.

Taoists regard the Tao Te Ching as the essential guide to living a full spiritual and ethical life. This key book of Taoism was compiled around the 3rd century BCE.

The Tao Te Ching or Daodejing is widely considered the most influential Taoist text. According to legend, it was written by Laozi, and often the book is simply referred to as the "Laozi." However, authorship, precise date of origin, and even unity of the text are still subject of debate, and will probably never be known with certainty. The earliest texts of the Tao Te Ching that have been excavated (written on bamboo tablets) date back to the late 4th century BCE. Throughout the history of religious Taoism, the Tao Te Ching has been used as a ritual text.

The famous opening lines of the Tao Te Ching are:
道可道非常道 (pinyin: dào kĕ dào fēi cháng dào)
"The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao"
名可名非常名 (pinyin: míng kĕ míng fēi cháng míng)
"The name that can be named is not the eternal name."

There is significant, at times acrimonious, debate regarding which English translation of the Tao Te Ching is preferable, and which particular translation methodology is best. The Tao Te Ching is not thematically ordered. However, the main themes of the text are repeatedly expressed using variant formulations, often with only a slight difference.

The leading themes revolve around the nature of Tao and how to attain it. Tao is said to be ineffable, and accomplishing great things through small means. Ancient commentaries on the Tao Te Ching are important texts in their own right. Perhaps the oldest one, the Heshang Gong commentary, was most likely written in the 2nd century CE. Other important commentaries include the one from Wang Bi and the Xiang'er.

In the Tao Te Ching, the Taoist life is one in which one achieves self-fulfillment as one is selflessly benefiting the lives of others. - Russell Kirkland

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Emptiness

Emptiness is the usual translation for the Buddhist term Sunyata (or Shunyata).  It refers to the fact that no thing – including human existence – has ultimate substantiality, which in turn means that no thing is permanent and no thing is totally independent of everything else. In other words, everything in this world is interconnected and in constant flux.  A deep appreciation of this idea of emptiness thus saves us from the suffering caused by our egos, our attachments, and our resistance to change and loss. - James Ure

True emptiness exists when the mind is clear and all forms have disappeared. Externally, there are no objects. Internally, there is no mind. There is only emptiness. In this state, even emptiness does not exist. In true emptiness there is no space, no desire, no will; there are no appearances, no thoughts. All realms of existence are dissolved. In absolute stillness there is no self and no other. There is only Earlier Heaven in its undifferentiated whole. - Shui-ch'ing Tzu

Emptiness is not really empty; Emptiness is full of everything. The ‘everything’ just isn’t manifest. - Ram Dass

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Atheism

In some awful, strange, paradoxical way, atheists tend to take religion more seriously than the practitioners. - Jonathon Miller

Friday, November 24, 2017

Faith

We may define "faith" as a firm belief in something for which there is no evidence. Where there is evidence, no one speaks of "faith". We do not speak of faith that two and two are four or that the earth is round. We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence. The substitution of emotion for evidence is apt to lead to strife, since different groups substitute different emotions. - Bertrand Russell

They bring me faith like a closed package in someone else's plate. They want me to accept it so that I don't open it. - Fernando Pessoa

Faith is belief without proof. Faith is fine, but don't call it science. - Loyd Auerbach

It is time that we admit that faith is nothing more than the license religious people give one another to keep believing when reasons fail. - Sam Harris

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Calmness of Mind

Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom. It is the result of long and patient effort in self-control. Its presence is an indication of ripened experience, and of a more than ordinary knowledge of the laws of operation of thought. An individual becomes calm in the measure that he understands himself as a thought-evolved being, for such knowledge necessitates the understanding of others as a result of thought, and sees more clearly the internal relations of things by the actions of cause and effect. He ceases to fuss, worry and grieve, and remains poised, steadfast, serene.

The calm person, having learned how to govern himself, knows how to adapt himself to others; and they in turn revere his spiritual strength, and feel that they can learn from him and rely upon him. The more tranquil one becomes, the greater his success, influence, and power for good.

The strong, calm man or woman is always loved and revered, like a shade-giving tree in a thirsty land, or a sheltering rock in a storm. Who does not love a tranquil heart, a sweet-tempered, balanced life? It does not matter whether it rains or shines, or what changes come to those possessing these blessings, for they are always sweet, serene, and calm. That exquisite poise of character which we call serenity is the flowering of life, the frontage of the soul. It is precious as wisdom, to be more desired than gold.

Many people ruin their lives and mar their happiness by lack of self-control. Humanity surges with controlled passion, is tumultuous with ungoverned grief, and is blown about by anxiety and doubt! Only the wise man, whose thoughts are controlled and purified, makes the winds and the storms of the soul obey him.

- Source Unknown