Tuesday, January 17, 2017


I think the world is going to be saved by millions of small things.

~Pete Seeger

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Five Precepts

Ethics and morality are practical matters. People get wrapped up in the words used to describe ethical action. But being ethical is just doing what's right and not doing what's not right. Simple as that. Of course, sometimes it's hard to know what's right. That's when we rely on the precepts.

~Brad Warner, in Don't Be a Jerk 

The Five Precepts:

1...To respect and protect life.
2...To respect and protect the property of others.
3...To respect and protect sexual boundaries.
4...To respect and protect others through language.
5...To respect and protect oneself.


The essence of all perennial wisdom is the understanding that the major source of human suffering comes through wrong thought. When these unskillful thoughts are translated into action, they cause the conflicts and delusion that bring about suffering and pain. If you want to change your actions, you must necessarily change the way you relate to thoughts, for thought is the mother of action.

~Ajahn Sumano Bhikkhu

Mexican Tomato Broth, plus Mexican Tomato Broth with Avocado and Lime

The Tomato Broth:

1 large onion, sliced
1 large zucchini, sliced
1 cup of diced tomatoes, fresh or canned (if canned, use the juices)
6 cloves of garlic
1 carrot, sliced
3 celery ribs, chopped
1 or 2 (depending on your taste) handfuls of fresh cilantro
1 handful of fresh parsley
1 handful of lentils
A generous pinch of anise seed
2 teaspoons of dried Mexican oregano (or 8 sprigs of fresh)
1 jalapeno, halved
2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of peppercorns, lightly crushed
Tomato paste, to taste

Put all of the ingredients except the tomato paste in a large soup pot or Dutch oven with 3 quarts of water.

Bring it to the boil, lower the heat and simmer, partially cover, for 2 hours.

Strain the broth. Taste for salt and adjust if needed.

If you wish to enrich the broth, add the tomato paste, a teaspoon at a time, until you find the flavor you desire.

Serve in mugs with a good sandwich.

For the Mexican Broth with Avocado and Lime:

6 cups of Mexican Broth
1 large avocado, removed from the skin and sliced
1/4 cup of finely sliced white onion
Several pinches of dried Mexican oregano
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
1 lime, cut into wedges

Heat the broth and ladle it into bowls.

Add some avocado slices, some onion slices, and some oregano to the bowls.

Serve with the serrano slices and the lime wedges on the side.


In its original state, the balanced mind is no longer enslaved by unskillful habits and inclinations. It abides in the present moment, awake and alert.

~Ajahn Sumano Bhikkhu


The inner world of meditation is truly the essence of mind. It is here that the quality of mind can be transformed in profound ways, not just altered or rearranged (as in many therapies). Meditation requires a deliberate, determined intention to transform the mind in the direction of its natural, unconditioned state—a state we call enlightenment.

~Ajahn Sumano Bhikkhu


Anything genuinely spiritual must be related to compassion. And compassion arises out of wisdom.
                                                                Ajahn Sumano Bhikkhu

Freedom from Politics and Religion

The world can never be made significantly better through political maneuvering. 
The world can never be made significantly better by religious sectarianism.

True progress comes when both politics and religion are allowed to fade away.

That's where the Buddha-Dharma, the Middle Way, comes into play.

In the Practice of the Middle Way, the Teachings given by Gotama Buddha before people got hold of them and made a religion out of them, the nonsense of religious rules and regulations is allowed to fade away. The nonsense of political expediency and cronyism is allowed to fade away.

In the Middle Way we accept justice, fairness, equality, democracy as they were always meant to be; not the "Animal Farm" approach that religion and politics seems unable to escape.
Within the Practice of the Middle Way, it's not the end of the journey that counts, it's the journey itself.

One trains by being what ones wants to be, what one wants society to be. 

For a peaceful person, a peaceful society, the way there is to be peaceful.

For a just person, a just society, the way there is to be just.

For a person guided by equality, a society guided by equality, the way there is to be guided by equality.

And on, and on, and on. This isn't rocket science. Be nice. Treat everything like you want to be treated. 

Don't be a jerk to anything.

Friday, January 13, 2017

This Life

The only life we can ever have is this moment. 

The past is a memory, never to be relived.

The future is a hope, a fear, a dream, or a fantasy.


The Buddha said karma is intention.

The word karma literally translated means action.

But the Buddha clearly indicated karma isn't simply action, it's intentional action.

The Journey

Within the Practice of the Buddha-Dharma, it's not the end of the journey that counts, it's the journey itself.



Not wanting.


Mindfulness guides us to the understanding, the awareness, that the world around us is nothing but a mirror image of ourselves.

The Only Person

I need to remember, I must never forget, the only person I can purify, the only person I can defile, the only person I can do anything about, is me.


Just as thoughts are expressions of the mind, so are feelings.

                                                                                                          Ayya Khema

The Universe

The Buddha was once asked: "What is the universe?"

His answer: "Seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and thinking—this is the universe."

Proper Speech

If you know something that is not helpful and untrue, then do not say it.

If you know something that might be helpful but is untrue, do not say that either.

Even if you know something that is not helpful and true, do not speak about it.

But if you know something that is helpful and true, then find the right time to say it.

                                                                                         The Buddha

Barbecued Tempeh

1 pound of tempeh, cut into 1/2-inch wide stripes
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger
1 (14.5 ounce) can of crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup of molasses
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons of tamari
1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
Cayenne to taste

Place the tempeh in a medium-size saucepan with water to cover and bring to the simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, then drain the tempeh and pat it dry. Set it aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the tempeh and cook, turning, until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes total. Remove the tempeh from the skillet with a slotted spoon and set it aside.

Add the onion, the garlic, and the ginger to the skillet, cover, and cook, stirring a few times until everything is softened, perhaps 5 minutes. Do not allow the garlic to burn.

Stir in the remaining ingredients in the order listed.

Bring it all to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer for 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, to thicken the sauce slightly and to develop the flavors.

Return the tempeh to the finished sauce and cook on a low simmer for 10 minutes.

Serve on greens or bread or buns or anyway that catches your fancy.


The only thing we can truly put in order is ourselves.

Unnecessary Arguments

The Buddha was ruthlessly honest, but he would not allowed himself to be guided or tricked into an unnecessary theoretical or theological argument.


All religions tell us to love one another. Some religions command it. We know this. But this knowledge, these commands, these words of guidance, whatever they are from whatever religion they come mean nothing without action.

What action?


Love is not a topic of theoretical discussion. It's not a matter of debate. Love is an action. Love is something we do. If it's difficult for you, practice.

Words without action mean precious little.



Mindfulness is never involved in judging, much less with condemning. Mindfulness is observing and recognizing.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Living Heart of the Dharma

The Pali Vinaya recounts a moving story about how Gotama [the Buddha] and his attendant Ananda visited a community of mendicants, one of whom was suffering from dysentery but lay uncared for in a pool of his own excrement. When the Buddha asked why no one was tending him, the man replied that because of his illness he was of no use to the community. Gotama instructs Ananda to go and fetch some water so that they can bathe him. Once they cleaned him, they laid him on a couch and went to find the other mendicants. The Buddha berated them for ignoring their sick brethren, then said:

........Bhikkhus, you have not a father, you have not a mother, who might tend you. If you do not tend ........to each other, then who is there who will tend to you? Whoever would tend to me, he should
........tend to the sick.

This remarkable passage shows us three things: Gotama takes it upon himself to offer nursing care to a sick mendicant who has been rejected by his community, identifies himself with those who are sick, and declares that those who care for him, that is, what he embodies, should care for the sick. This passage goes further than simply comparing the Buddha to a physician and his dharma to a course of medical treatment, which has become a Buddhist commonplace. Here we find Gotama non-metaphorically getting his hands dirty by caring for a sick person. It raises the possibility that Gotama actively encourages his followers to serve as doctors and nurses, that his early community was not concerned solely with spiritual well-being but also with attending to the very real sufferings caused by birth, illness, aging, and death. That mendicants were regarded as physicians is reinforced by a passage in the Mulasarvastavada Vinaya, which tells how King Pasenadi "several times mistook doctors for Buddhist mendicants on account of their similar costumes."

The episode likewise offers another perspective on the first of the four tasks. To comprehend suffering means to embrace concretely the condition of those who are unwell by regarding them in the same way as one would regard the Buddha.The helpless newborn, the person tormented by disease, the elderly man who can no longer take care of himself, the terminally ill woman aware that her life is drawing to an end—these people reveal the dharma to us as effectively as the Buddha himself. In the presence of such suffering, there is no room to ponder the meaning of the term dukkha or to speculate about what its end might be. We are challenged to respond to the immediacy of the situation in a way that is not determined by our habitual reactivity. There is no correct "Buddhist" way of speaking or behaving in such cases. We are called upon to say or do something without hesitation—just as Gotama and Ananda immediately attended to the sick mendicant's needs.

That more and more people encounter the dharma today through their firsthand experience of the effectiveness of mindfulness in treating a medical condition points to the centrality of this kind of care and healing in Gotama's dharma. Such people are not drawn to this practice because of an interest in Buddhist philosophy or doctrines. The idea of becoming a Buddhist might be the last thing on their minds. They have found a meditative strategy that works in coming to terms with specific physical or mental ailments. Yet rather than dismissing their experience as the result of a secularized practice of mindfulness from which the rich philosophical and ethical context of Buddhism has been removed, I would prefer to think that they have experienced the living heart of the dharma, around which, over the centuries, numerous layers of religiosity, morals, and belief have been superimposed.

Stephen Batchelor, in after buddhism

Common Sense

The Fading Away of Religion

The Two Greatest Delusions

From the point of view of Mahayana Buddhism, this is the greatest of all delusions, the belief that something exists. Upon close analysis, nothing exists by itself. Any given entity can only be defined in terms of other entities in time, space, or mind. And these in turn can only be defined in terms of other entities, and so on ad infinitum.

According to Mahayana Buddhism, this is the second greatest of all delusions, the belief that nothing exists. Emptiness does not mean nothingness. It simply means the absence of the erroneous distinctions that divide one entity from another, one being from another being, one thought from another thought. Emptiness is not nothing, it's everything, everything at once. This is what Avalokiteshvara sees.
Red Pine, in his commentary on the Heart Sutra entitled The Heart Sutra

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Drinking the Mountain Stream

Happy is one who knows samsara and nirvana are not two.


Aztec Salsa

2 avocados, cut open, pitted, scooped out, and chopped
¼ cup of red wine vinegar
1 (15 ounce) can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (11 ounce) can of Mexican-style corn
3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
3 green onions, sliced
1 small red onion, chopped
¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil, or as needed
1 (.7 ounce) package of dry Italian-style salad dressing

Lightly combine the avocado with the red wine vinegar in a salad bowl.

Stirs in the black beans, the corn, the tomatoes, the green onion, and the red onion.

Whisk together the oil and the dry salad dressing in a bowl. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss lightly.

Allow the salsa to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.


Being pure and yet tolerant,
Being warmhearted and yet resolved,
Having insight but not speculating on the faults of others,
Being upright but not beyond reform
    All of these can be called honeyed biscuits,
        not too sweet;
    Or products of the sea, not too salty.
Only this is balanced virtue.

                                      Hung Ying-ming

When in a place of wealth and rank,
    Pay attention to the suffering of the poor and humble.
During the time of your youth and vigor,
    Guide your thoughts to the hardships of the old and feeble.

                                                                                Hung Ying-ming

Freedom - Nirvana

Gotama takes a noun, "the unconditioned," and treats it as a verb: "not to be conditioned" by something. He seems acutely aware of the relational nature of language. There is no such thing, for example, as freedom per se. There is only freedom from constraints, or freedom to act in ways that were not possible because of those constraints. Nor is there any awakening per se, but only awakening from the "sleep" of delusion, or awakening to the presence of others who suffer. And there is no such thing as the unconditioned, only the possibility of not being conditioned by something.

Nirvana, therefore, does not refer to the attainment of a transcendent, absolute state apart from the conditions of life but to the possibility of living here and now emancipated from the inclinations of desire, hatred, and delusion. A life not conditioned by these instincts and drives would be an enriched one. No longer would one be the victim of paralyzing habits; one would be freed to respond to circumstances in fresh, unimpeded ways.

Stephen Batchelor, in after buddhism


Buddhahood is an ending of desire, 
an ending of hatred, 
an ending of delusion.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


When asked about quarrels, disputes, despair, sorrow, selfishness, pride, conceit, despair, and malicious speech, the Buddha explained their foundation is found in that which is cherished.

When asked about the foundation of that which is cherished, the Buddha answered, desire.


Nirvana is freedom from grasping.