Thursday, October 20, 2016


All conditioned things are impermanent.
Work out your own salvation with diligence.

---The Buddha's Last Words---


Part of working out one's salvation is to give up the notion that there is a someone who needs to be saved.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


For when one perceives impermanence, Meghiya*, the perception of not-self is established. When one perceives not-self one reaches the removal of the conceit "I am," which is called Nirvana here and now.

---The Buddha, as recorded in the Udana---

*A monk the Buddha was instructing.

The Value of Impermanence

It is not impermanence that makes us suffer. What makes us suffer is wanting things to be permanent when they are not.

We need to learn to appreciate the value of impermanence. If we are in good health and are aware of impermanence, we will take good care of ourselves. When we know that the person we love is impermanent, we will cherish our beloved all the more. Impermanence teaches us to respect and value every moment and all the precious things around us and inside us. When we practice mindfulness of impermanence, we become fresher and more loving.

 ---Thich Nhat Hanh, in The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching---


All acts and experiences, moment by moment, determine the individuals life.

---Kogen Mizuno, in Basic Buddhist Concepts---

A Doctrine of No Justification

God-religions offer no salvation without God. Thus a man might conceivably have climbed to the highest pinnacle of virtue, and he might have led a righteous way of life, and he might even have climbed to the highest level of holiness, yet he is to be condemned to eternal hell just because he did not believe in the existence of God. On the other hand, a man might have sinned deeply and yet, having made a late repentance, he can be forgiven and therefore 'saved'. From the Buddhist point of view, there is no justification in this kind of doctrine.

---Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda---

Religion or Spirituality

Religion is imposed from without.

Spirituality develops from within.

True Spirituality

Humanity needs a religion not for giving them a dream for their next life or providing them with some dogmatic ideas to follow, in such a way that they surrenders their human intelligence and becomes a nuisance to their fellow beings. A religion should be reliable and reasonable method for people to live here and now in the present moment as cultured, understanding beings, while setting a good example for others. Many religions turn humanity's thoughts away from themselves towards a supreme being, but Buddhism directs humanity's search for peace inwards to the potentialities that lie hidden within themselves.

Reality and Truth are not something a person can find by searching outside of themselves because in the final analysis humanity is reality and reality is humanity.

Therefore, true religion, or True Spirituality, is not something found outside of ourselves, is not something we acquire, but the cultivation and realization of wisdom and compassion that we develop within ourselves.

An Unforgiving God

According to Genesis, Adam and Eve deeply offended God's authority. Because of that one act of disobedience, the entire human race must be punished into perpetuity. The Lord Jealous put the "fear of God" into his children by kicking them out of the house. He damned all of us. "Actions have consequences," the strict parent lectures his unruly children.

We sometimes hear that God is a forgiving parent, but the scriptures don't support that claim. The forgiveness that is sometimes mentioned in the Old Testament is almost always contingent on paying a price to appease the wrath of the Lord Jealous. Forgiveness is not something he freely gives: it has to be bought, usually with the blood ransom of animal sacrifice.

        He shall remove all its fat, as the fat is removed from the offering of well-being, and the priest             shall turn it into smoke on the altar for a pleasing odor to the Lord. Thus the priest shall make             atonement on your behalf, and you shall be forgiven. (Leviticus 4:31)

When God's anger is soothed by the "pleasing odor" of a burning animal, only then will he pardon your crimes.

If a father said to his child, "You angered me by opening your Christmas present early, but I will forgive you when I smell the smoke of your pet burning," we would howl with condemnation at such abusive parenting. As Richard Dawkins notes in the Forward, Christians have inherited this blood-penalty mentality from the Old Testament: "Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission [of sin]."
(Hebrews 9:22) God simply cannot forgive unless something dies.

---Dan Barker, in God The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction---

Other Traditions

The Practice and Teachings of Buddhism is open to other traditions and customs provided they are not harmful to the welfare of other Living Beings.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Venerable Narda Maha Thera Speaks of Nirvana

Nirvana is not a sort of heaven where a transcendental ego resides, but an attainment which is within the reach of all.

Just as fire is not stored up in any particular place but arise when the necessary conditions exists, so Nirvana is not said to be existing in a particular place, but is attained when the necessary conditions are fulfilled.

What attains Nirvana? The question must necessarily be set aside as irrelevant, for Buddhism denies the existence of a permanent entity or an immortal soul. As right now and here there is neither a permanent ego nor an identical being, it is needless to say that there is no "I" in Nirvana.

The Buddha

The Buddha is not something outside of you to be worshipped.
It is your basic self.


Nonviolence is a more effective weapon to fight against evil than retaliation. The very nature of retaliation is to increase wickedness.

---Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda---

Actions: Meritorious or Harmful

In Buddhism, the distinction between what is good and what is bad is very simple: all actions that have their roots in greed, hatred, and delusion that spring from selfishness foster the harmful delusion of selfhood. These actions are demeritorious or unskillful or bad.

All those actions which are rooted in the virtues of generosity, love and wisdom, are meritorious,

The criteria of good and bad apply whether the actions are thought, word or deed.

---Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda---

Winter Salsa

1 6-ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 small yellow or white onion, diced
1 or 2 hot peppers of your choice (jalapeno, serrano, diablo              grande, cayenne, etc.), diced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
3 or 4 scallion, chopped
1/2 cup of tomato sauce
1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
The juice of 1 lemon
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped (about 3/4 of a cup)
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the tomatoes, the onion, the chilies, the garlic, and the scallions in a medium-sized bowl.

Stir in the tomato sauce, the olive oil, the lemon juice, and the cilantro.

Add the salt and the pepper to taste.

Allow the sauce to rest at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.

Morality in Buddhism is Essentially Practical

Morality in Buddhism is essentially practical in that it is only a means leading to the final goal of ultimate happiness. On the Buddhist path to Emancipation, each individual is considered responsible for his own fortunes and misfortunes. Each individual is expected to work his own deliverance by his understanding and effort. Buddhist salvation is the result of one's own moral development and can neither be imposed nor granted to one by some external agent. The Buddha's mission was to enlighten men as to the nature of existence and to advise them how best to act for their own happiness and for the benefit of others. Consequently, Buddhist ethics are not founded on any commandment which men are compelled to follow. The Buddha advised men on the conditions which were wholesome and conductive to long-term benefit for self and others. Rather than addressing sinners with such words as 'shameful', 'wicked', 'wretched', 'unworthy', and 'blasphemous' He would say, "You are foolish in acting in such a way since this will bring sorrow upon yourselves and others."

---Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda---

Ignorant Inference

                                         Rest and unrest derive from illusion;
                                         with enlightenment, attachment to liking and disliking ceases.
                                         All dualities come from ignorant inference.
                                         They are like dreams, phantoms, hallucinations—
                                         it is foolish to try to grasp them.
                                         Gain and loss, right and wrong:
                                         finally abandon all such thoughts at once.

                                                                                   ---The Hsin Hsin Ming---


Gain and loss, right and wrong:
finally abandon all such thoughts at once.

                                     ---The Hsin Hsin Ming---

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Five Skandhas

What causes us to suffer in an impermanent world is not impermanence itself, but the desire burning within us to attach to things that are not lasting. We harbor this desire (in Sanskirt, trishna, also translated "thirst" or "craving") as long as we cling inappropriately to the ego-oriented notion of self. Such a limited, artificial perspective—distinguishing between self and other, instead of realizing the interpenetration of both—easily gives rise to the so-called three poisons, or defilements, of greed, anger, and ignorance. These poisons, in turn, feed desire: the urge to acquire, to overpower, to win.

In distinct opposition to the Hindu belief in a personal self (atman) that passes in soul-like form from a lifetime in one body to a lifetime in another, Shakyamuni taught the doctrine of no-self (anataman). Individuals, of course, live as such in the real world, and need to think in terms of a self to a certain degree for basic survival purposes. Nevertheless, the self does not exist as a spiritual or metaphysical entity. Instead, it's simply the name given to a temporary combination (or "personality") of impermanent aggregates.

Buddhism posits five groups of aggregates (in Sanskrit, collectively referred to as skandhas):

1. matter. The eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind. In Buddhism each of these items is                     considered a sense organ.

2. sensations. The raw data of sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, and mental activity.

3. perception. The recognition and naming of the sensations listed above.

4. mental formation. All mental acts that generate activities—for example, will, judgment, fear,               repulsion, pride, and so on. This skandha can manifest the three poisons—greed, anger, and                 ignorance—or their medicinal counterparts—wisdom, compassion, and enlightenment. Its function     links to our karma which explains Shakyamuni's words, "We are what we think."

5 consciousness. The awareness, registration, and ordering of the perceptions listed above.

---Jack Maguire, in Essential Buddhism---

If There Is No Self, What Is Reborn?

What is reborn is our habits. That is the essence of it. Whatever the mind holds onto is reborn: what we love, hate, fear, adore, and have opinions about. Our identification with these aspects of mind has a momentum behind it. Attachment is like a flywheel . . . . What is being reborn from life to life is that which identifies with objects blindly.

---Ajahn Amaro---

Awakening (Enlightenment)

So if no thing is revealed, to what does the enlightened mind awake? Buddhist scriptures most often say that it awakens to emptiness (in Sanskrit, shunyata). This doesn't mean that the mind enters into some sort of existential void. After all, that would be a thing unto itself, if only "nothingness." Instead, the mind comes face to face with the unconditioned, the unknowable, the impalpable, the nonexistence, the nonapparent, the undifferentiated, or, for want of a better word, emptiness. Rather than being limited to grasping some thing, the mind opens up to experience total freedom.

---Jack Maguire, in Essential Buddhism--- 

Friday, October 14, 2016

No Violence

Buddhism advocates and preaches non-violence and peace as its universal message, and does not approve of any kind of violence or destruction of life.

---Walpola Rahula, in What the Buddha Taught---


The condition and behaviour of the mind is responsible for the next existence.

                                                                                               ---Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda---

Death Does Not Spell Either the Entrance to Eternal Life or Complete Annihilation

Just as relative identity is made possible by causal continuity without a Self or Soul, so death can issue in rebirth without a transmigrating Soul. In a single life, each thought-moment flashes in and out of being, giving rise to its successor with its perishing. Strictly speaking, this momentary rise and fall of every thought is a birth and death. Thus even in a single life we undergo countless births and deaths every second. But because the mental process continues with the support of a single physical body, we regard the mind-body continuum as constituting a single life.

What we ordinarily mean by death is the cessation of the body's vital functions. When the physical body loses its vitality it can no longer support the current of consciousness, the mental side of the process. But as long as there is a clinging to life, a desire to go on existing, the current of consciousness does not come to a stop with the body's loss of life. Rather, when death takes place, when the body dies away, the mental current, driven by the thirst for more existence, will spring up again with the support of a new physical body, one which has just come into being through the meeting of sperm and egg. Thus, rebirth takes place immediately after death. The stream of memory may be interrupted and the sense of identity transferred to the new situation, but the entire accumulation of experience and disposition has been transmitted to the newborn being, and the cycle of becoming begins to revolve for still another term.

For Buddhism, therefore, death does not spell either the entrance to eternal life or complete annihilation. It is, rather, the portal to new rebirth which will be followed by more growth, decay, and then till another death.

---Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda---

Corn, Tomatoes, and Okra

1 pound of okra
5 cups of corn kernels (best when fresh cut from the cob)
1/4 cup of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of seasoned salt
5 medium tomatoes, cored and cut into wedges
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley to taste

Clean and cut the okra into 1/3-inch slices.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large, deep skillet.

Add the okra, the corn kernels, the salt, the pepper, the sugar, and the seasoned salt and saute over medium heat until both vegetables are light brown around the edges. Make sure to stir frequently to prevent sticking.

The sauteing will take about 25 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes. You want to heat the tomatoes through.

Sprinkle everything with the pepper and the parsley before serving.

Serve from the skillet or Dutch oven.

Rebirth is Not Reincarnation

The Buddhist doctrine of rebirth should be differentiated from the teachings of transmigration and reincarnation of other religions. Buddhism denies the existence of a permanent, god-created soul or an unchanging entity that transmigrates from one life to another.

---Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda---

What Is the Cause of Rebirth?

The Buddha taught that ignorance produces desires. Unsatisfied desire is the cause of rebirth. When all unsatisfied desire is extinguished, then rebirth ceases. To stop rebirth is to extinguish all desires. To extinguish desire, it is necessary to destroy ignorance. When ignorance is destroyed, the worthlessness of every such rebirth, is perceived, as well as the paramount need to adopt a course of life by which the desire for such repeated births can be abolished.

---Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda---

Baked Cabbage

1 medium-size head (green) cabbage
1/2 cup of water
2 tablespoons of flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground white pepper (black pepper is fine)
1 tablespoon of sugar
 3 tablespoons of butter
1 cup of milk
1/2 cup of grated Cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the cabbage into wedges and parboil in the 1/2 cup of water in a covered saucepan for 5 minutes.

Drain the cabbage and place in a buttered 2-quart casserole.

Sprinkle the cabbage with the flour, the salt, the pepper, and the sugar.

Dot the cabbage with the butter, or you may melt the butter and pour it evenly over everything.

Pour the milk over the cabbage and top with the cheese.

Bake for 35 minutes or until the casserole is golden brown on top and bubbling around the sides.

Note: The baking time will be effected by the depth of the baking dish.

Your Teacher

When I am gone, my Teaching shall be your Master and Guide.

                                            ---The Buddha---

Anatta: The Teaching of No-Soul

The Buddha countered all soul-theory and soul-speculation with His Anatta doctrine. Anatta is is translated under various labels: No-Soul, No-Self, egolessness, and soullessness.

To understand the Anatta doctrine, one must understand that the eternal soul theory — 'I have a soul' — and the material theory — 'I have no soul' — are both obstacles to self-realization or salvation. They arise from the misconception 'I AM'. Hence, to understand the Anatta doctrine, one must not cling to any opinion or views on soul-theory; rather, one must try to see things objectively as they are and without mental projections. One must learn to see the so-called 'I' or Soul or Self for what it really is: merely a combination of changing forces. This requires some analytical explanation.

The Buddha taught that what we conceive as something eternal within us, is merely a combination of physical and mental aggregates or forces, made up of body or matter, sensation, perception, mental formations and consciousness. These forces are working together in a flux of momentary change; they are never the same for two consecutive moments. They are component forces of the psycho-physical life. When the Buddha analyzed the psycho-physical life, He found only these five aggregates or forces. He did not find any eternal soul. However, many people still have the misconception that the soul is the consciousness. The Buddha declared in unequivocal terms that consciousness depends on matter, sensation, perception and mental formations and that it cannot exist independently of them.

The Buddha said, "The body, O monks, is not the Self. Sensation is not the Self. Perception is not the Self. The mental constructions are not the Self. And neither is consciousness the Self. Perceiving this, O monks, the disciple sets no value on the body, or on sensation, or on perception, or on mental constructions, or on consciousness. Setting no value on them, he becomes free of passions and he is liberated. The knowledge of liberation arises there within him. And then he knows that he has done what has to be done, that he has lived the holy life, that he is no longer becoming this or that, that his rebirth is destroyed."

The Anatta doctrine of the Buddha is over 2500 years old. Today the thought current of the modern scientific world is flowing towards the Buddha's Teaching of Anatta or No-Soul. In the eyes of the modern scientists, man is merely a bundle of ever-changing sensations. Modern physicists say that the apparently solid universe is not, in reality, composed of solid substance at all, but actually a flux of energy. The modern physicist sees the whole universe as a process of transformation of various forces of which man is a mere part. The Buddha was the first to realize this.

A prominent author, W. S. Wily, once said, "The existence of the immortal in man is becoming increasingly discredited under the influence of the dominant schools of modern thought." The belief in the immortality of the soul is a dogma that is contradicted by the most solid, empirical truth.

The mere belief in an immortal soul, or the conviction that something survives death, does not make us immortal unless we know what it is that survives and that we are capable of identifying ourselves with it. Most human beings choose death instead of immortality by identifying themselves with that which is perishable and impermanent by clinging stubbornly to the body or the momentary elements of the present personality, which they mistake for the soul or the essential form of life.

About those researchers of modern scientists who are now more inclined to assert that the so-called 'Soul' is no more than a bundle of sensations, emotions, sentiments, all relating to the physical experiences, Prof. James says that the term 'Soul' is a mere figure of speech to which no reality corresponds.

It is the same Anatta doctrine of the Buddha that was introduced in the Mahayana school of Buddhism as Sunyata or voidness. Although this concept was elaborated by the great Mahayana scholar, Nagarjuna, by giving various interpretations, there is no extraordinary concept in Sunyata far different from the Buddha's original doctrine of Anatta.

The belief in Soul or Self and the Creator God, is so strongly rooted in the minds of many people that they cannot imagine why the Buddha did not accept these two issues which are indispensable to many religions. In fact some people got a shock or became nervous and tried to show their emotion when they heard that the Buddha rejected these two concepts. That is the main reason why to many unbiased scholars and psychologists Buddhism stands unique when compared to all the other religions. At the same time, some other scholars who appreciate the various other aspects of Buddhism thought that Buddhism would be enriched by deliberately re-interpreting the Buddha word 'Atta' in order to introduce the concept of Soul and Self into Buddhism. The Buddha was aware of this unsatisfactoriness of man and the conceptual upheaval regarding this belief.

                  All conditioned things are impermanent,
                  All conditioned things are Dukka—Suffering,
                  All conditioned or unconditioned things are soulless or selfless.
                                                                                              -The Dhammapada 277 - 279

There is a parable in our Buddhist texts with regard to the belief in an eternal soul. A man, who mistook a moving rope for a snake, became terrified by that fear in his mind. Upon discovery that it was only a piece of rope, his fear subsided and his mind became peaceful. The belief in an eternal soul is equated to the rope — man's imagination.

---Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda---

The So-Called Soul

The so-called 'Soul' is no more than a bundle of sensations, emotions, sentiments, all relating to the physical experiences. The term 'Soul' is a mere figure of speech which corresponds to no reality.

Most Humans Identify With That Which Is Perishable

The mere belief in an immortal soul, or the conviction that something survives death, does not make us immortal unless we know what it is that survives and that we are capable of identifying ourselves with it. Most human beings choose death instead of immortality by identifying themselves with that which is perishable and impermanent by clinging stubbornly to the body or the momentary elements of the present personality, which they mistake for the soul or the essential form of life.

---Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda---

The Consciousness Is Not The Soul

When the Buddha analyzed the psycho-physical life, He found only these five aggregates or forces*. He did not find any eternal soul. However, many people still have the misconception that the soul is the consciousness. The Buddha declared in unequivocal terms that consciousness depends on matter, sensation, perception and mental formations and that it cannot exist independently of them.

---Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda---

*Matter, Sensation (Feelings), Perception, Mental Formations, and Consciousness.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Soul Theories

With regard to the soul theory, there are three kinds of teachers in the world:

1...The Eternalist teaches the existence of an eternal ego-entity that outlasts death.

2...The materialist teaches a temporary ego-entity which becomes annihilated at death.

3...The Buddha teaches neither eternal nor temporary ego-entity.

The Buddha teaches what we call ego, self, soul, or personality are merely conventional terms that do not refer to any real, independent entity.Those who believe in the existence of a soul cannot explain what it is or where it is to be found.

The Buddha's advice was not to waste time over this kind of unnecessary speculation. Instead, he advised we devote our talents to Awakening, coming to an experience with Reality.

When we have realized Awakening, we will be able to understand whether there is a soul or not-soul.

A wandering ascetic named Vacchagotta once asked the Buddha if there was an atman (self) or not. The story is told in this manner:

        Vaccagotta goes to the Buddha and asks, "Venerable Gautama, is there an atman?"
        The Buddha is silent.
        Vaccagotta asks, "Then, Venerable Gautama, is there no atman?"
        Again the Buddha is silent.
        Vaccagotta goes away.

After Vaccagotta had left, Ananda, the Buddha's attendant, asks why he did not answer.

"Ananda," the Buddha explained, "If I had answered 'there is a self" then that would be siding with the eternalist theory. If I had answered 'there is no self' I would be siding with the annihilationist theory."

"Again, Ananda, If I had said there is a self would that be in accord with my knowledge that all dharmas are without Self?"

"Surely not, Teacher," Ananda answered.

"And again, Ananda, If I had said there is no Self that would have created greater confusion for Vaccagotta who is already confused. He would have thought, 'I had a Atman and now I do not'."

The Buddha regarded soul-speculation as useless and illusory.

The Buddha once said, "Only through ignorance and delusion do men indulge in the dream that their souls are separate and self-existing entities. Their hearts still cling to Self. They are anxious about heaven and they seek the pleasure of Self in heaven. So they cannot see the peace of morality and ethics and the immortality of truth.

Selfish ideas appear in individual's mind due to the conception of Self and a craving for existence.