Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Four Steps To Freedom

1. Don’t Take Anything Personally

Nothing anybody says or does to you has anything to do with you. Each person’s opinion is solely the product of their own life and reality.

It’s hard to imagine this. It’s easier to get offended or angry or to internalize and believe what others may say. Rather than getting consumed by it, obsessed over it, and letting it affect you, let it go.

This is also true when someone is offering you advice. Have you ever shared your finest dream? The responses might be all over the place. One person may say, “Good luck with that, maybe you should come back to earth” while another may be very positive, “Yes. Go for it.”

Does that mean the first person doesn’t believe in you? No. It means that person cannot see your dreams as you see them.

When someone says something to you, whether it’s an insult, a piece of advice, or anything at all, connect back to your awareness. Only you can know what’s true or not.

By taking another person’s opinion of you to heart and choosing to believe it, you’re doing yourself an injustice.

2. Don't Be a Victim

It's easy to think the world is against you.

Have you ever had one of those days where everything seems to go wrong? It happens. There’re things in our control and not in our control. You can’t control the world around you, but you can control how you react to things. Don’t fall into the trap of the downward spiral of victim.

Embrace each and every thing that happens as an opportunity. When something negative happens ask, “What can I learn from this?”

Accept situations as opportunities, and remember there’s a lesson in each. Look for the lesson rather than getting stuck in the victim mode.

3. Be Gentle, Kind, And Compassionate With Yourself

Have an awareness of your thoughts. Acknowledge what you say about yourself.

Are your thoughts kind? Are you kind to yourself. Are you your own worst critic?

When you look into the mirror, what do you see?

Remember you deserve your kindness as much as everyone else.

Work on shifting your thoughts to ones that are more compassionate and kind. Every time you think something negative about yourself, replace it with a positive.

Eventually you’ll see these positive thoughts are true.

Practicing this way allows you the freedom to be you.

4. Practice Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a powerful word, a mysterious word.

Forgiveness is the practice and art of letting go of the hope that the past can be changed.

Forgiveness isn’t about saying whatever happened was okay, right, or just. It‘s about letting it go.

Forgiving is releasing the power that a certain event has on you. By not forgiving you are keeping your mind in the past, thinking and wishing that things could have been different.

This traps you and may lead you to act in negative ways.

Forgiveness puts you back into the present—the only time that truly exists—where you have the power to live free and happy.

Next time you feel stuck, turn your awareness within. What do your thoughts look like?

Allow your mind to understand you.

This Is The 'Salvation' Buddhist Aspire To

Petroglyph of figures venerating a stūpa and a Kharosṭhī inscription. 
1st-2nd century C.E. on the upper Indus River in northern Pakistan.

When people have truly purified their minds of ignorance, they will see the universe as it really is and they will not suffer from superstition and dogmatism. This is the 'salvation' that Buddhist aspire to.

---What Buddhist Believe, by K. Sri Dhammananda---

Egyptian Cheese Pate'

1/2 pound of feta cheese, soaked in milk 9to remove excess salt) for one hour, then rinsed
1 1/2 cups of yogurt
2 tablespoons of fresh mint, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of fresh dill, finely chopped
The juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

In a bowl, mash the feta with a fork, then add the yogurt. Stir to make a smooth mixture. (A blender works well for this step.)

Add the mint, the parsley, the dill, and the lemon juice. Combine well.

Pour the oil over the pate' and grind on the black pepper to taste.

Serve with pita bread.

Kenyan Mushrooms With Yogurt

Vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 pound of your favorite mushroom, finely chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 cup of yogurt (or buttermilk)
Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a heavy pan. Sauté the onion for a few minutes.

Add the mushrooms and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool for several minutes.

Stir in the yogurt and the salt.

Return the pan to the heat and cook gently for 5 minutes. Do not allow the yogurt to boil or it will curdle.


Middle Eastern Tomato and Cucumber Salad

5-inch cucumber, diced
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 green (or red) bell pepper, chopped
2 scallions (spring onions), finely sliced on the diagonal
4 tablespoons for fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons of fresh mint, chopped
1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
Extra-virgin olive oil to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the cucumber, the tomatoes, the bell pepper, the scallions, the parsley, and the mint in a large salad bowl. Stir to combine well.

Mix together the lemon juice, the oil, and the salt and pepper.

Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well.


Thai Noodles With Ginger

1/2 pound of egg noodles
Vegetable oil
1 teaspoon of finely chopped ginger
2 scallions (spring onions), finely sliced on the diagonal
2 tablespoons of a fine soy sauce
4 tablespoons of cilantro (coriander leaves), finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper

Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain the noodles and set aside.

Heat the oil in a wok and stir-fry the ginger and the scallion for 1 minute.

Add the soy sauce and the cilantro and cook for a few seconds.

Add the noodles and season with the pepper.

Mix well and stir-fry for a minute.


Lesotho Cooked Cabbage

Vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of curry powder
Salt to taste
1 pound of cabbage, finely chopped
A little water
3 tomatoes, chopped

Heat the oil over medium-heat in a sauté pan. Add the onion and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the curry powder and the salt and stir well.

Add the cabbage and a wee bit of water. Stir. Cover the pan and boil for 10 minutes or until the cabbage is to the desired degree of tenderness.

Add the tomato, stir well, cook for 5 minutes.



We understand it still that there is no easy road to freedom.

---Nelson Mandela---

The Important Thing In Science

The important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them.

---Sir Lawrence Bragg---

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Spiritual Guide

Inner Tranquility by Christopher Beikmann

The Buddha was not a philosopher trying to explain the universe. He was a spiritual guide who wanted to help us put an end to our suffering.

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

First Cause

...the Buddha always taught that no first cause can be found.

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

Obstacles Along The Path

Obstacles along the path can help our determination and compassion grow. Obstacles teach us about our strengths and weaknesses, so that we can know ourselves better and see in which direction we truly wish to go.

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

The Tendency To Crave

Just as a felled tree grows again
........If the roots are unharmed and strong,
So suffering sprouts again and again
........Until the tendency to crave is rooted out.

---The Dhammapada 338---


One is not wise
.........Only because one speaks a lot.
One who is peaceful, without hate, and fearless
.........Is said to be wise.

---The Dhammapada 258---

The Gate of Nondualism

The bodhisattva Good Will said, "The realm of birth and death and that of nirvana form a dualism. But if one sees the true nature of birth and death, one sees that there is no birth or death, no binding, no unbinding, no birth, no extinction. One who understands in this way may thereby enter the gate of nondualism."

---The Vimalakirti Sutra---

The Gate of Nondualism

The bodhisattva Virtue Guardian said, " 'I' and 'mine' form a dualism. Because there is an 'I', there is also a 'mine.' But if there is no 'I,' there will be no 'mine.' In this way one enters the gate of nondualism."

---The Vimalakirti Sutra---

The Bodhisattva

Though he knows there is no arising or
he undergoes birth so he may instruct others.

---The Vimalakirti Sutra---

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Ways of Goodness


Be loving, be kind
And follow the ways of goodness.
Committed, and longing for the goal,
Always keep going with courage.
To dally and delay will not help you.
But to be ardent is sure and safe.
When you see it, cultivate the path,
So you will touch and make your own
The Deathless Way.

---Buddhist Psalm---

You Are Already There

Awakening, Enlightenment is nothing to be thought about.

Awakening, Enlightenment is nothing to be attained.

There Is Nothing To Attain

Then the goddess said, "Shariputra, have you attained the way of the arhat?"

Shariputra said, "I've realized there is nothing to be attained, so I've attained it."

The goddess said, "The Buddhas and bodhisattvas are that way too. They've realized there is nothing to attain, and so they've attained it."

Our Nature and Reality

To see our own nature is to see the nature of reality. There is no greater insight, no greater realization.

All the teachings of all the buddhas are present within us because all buddhas and all teachings arise from this very nature that we all share.

Our own nature is inseparable from what is real. The fundamental nature of reality is also our nature.

---Thoughts from Red Pine's Commentary on the Platform Sutra---


Artwork by Mac Mood

The nature of things and the nature of the mind, according to Buddhists, are not different.

---Red Pine---

External Practices and Mistaken Views

These include restrictions of behavior based on a mistaken view of morality.

These include restrictions of thought based on a mistaken view of meditation.

These include restrictions of knowledge based on a mistaken view of wisdom.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Six Perils In Idleness

A man says, "It's too cold," and does no work, or, "It's too hot," and does no work.

He says, "It's too early," or, "It's too late," and does no work.

He says, "I'm hungry," and does no work, or, "I'm too full," and does no work.

And while his work is not done, he makes no money, and such wealth as he has dwindles away.

---The Sigolavada Sutta---

Persian Proverb

Live within your harvest.

Shredded Carrot and Beet Salad

1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of honey
1 teaspoon of cumin
1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
Salt to taste
1 pound of raw beets, peeled
4 carrots, scrubbed
1/2 cup of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Whisk together the lemon juice, the olive oil, the honey, the cumin, the coriander, the cinnamon, and the salt.

Shred the beets and the carrots in a food processor or by hand.

Toss the shredded vegetables with the dressing and the parsley.

Serve immediately.

Lessons From the Story of Kisa Gotami

Verse 114 of the Dhammapada says:

Though one should live a hundred years
without seeing the Deathless State,
yet better, indeed, is a single day’s life
of one who sees the Deathless State.

The Deathless State is Nirvana. And this verse is referring to a young woman named Kisa Gotami.

Revisit the story of Kisa Gotami. Most know her story. It’s one of the most popular teaching stories in Buddhism.

Kisa was a plain thin girl living in India in the time of the Buddha.

Gotami was her family name. Her personal name Kisa, means ‘frail‘. Tradition tells us she was thin and rather unattractive.

Though she was a plain her heart was rich and full of kindness and compassion.

Because of her poverty and lack of beauty she had a hard time finding a husband. But, she hoped a man would someday see her inner beauty and marry her.

And finally it happened. A man did come along who saw her true beauty and married her and brought her into his parents’ home.

His parents, however, and the other members of his family disliked her because of her poverty and her plainness. The did not treat her well.

So her husband was caught in an unhappy place between his love for his new wife and his love for his family. His family’s poor treatment of Kisa caused him great pain.

But, things changed when Kisa became pregnant. They changed for the better. And they changed more when she gave birth to a son. The whole family accepted her now because she was the mother of the heir to the family name.

Kisa was finally truly happy. Her husband loved her and his parents and family now honored her. She was content.

But, suddenly one day her infant took sick and died. The tragedy was too much for her. Besides being broken hearted over the death of her son, her only child, she became desperately worried her husband’s family would again despise her.

Besides her grief she was worried people would think her karma was the cause of her son’s death. She thought people would think she had done some great evil to have lost her son.

She was even afraid her beloved husband would leave her a find a new wife from a better background.

All these worries and fears churned around inside her. She refused to accept what had happened, she convinced herself her little sweet son was only ill and not dead. She convinced herself all she needed to do was find the proper medicine and her baby would get better.

Carrying her dead son, she went from house to house asking for medicine for her sick baby.

People could see Kisa’s baby was dead and many of them taunted her for being so foolish.

“Where have you ever seen medicine for the dead?” they mocked.

Almost everyone made fun of her. All but one man. In her desperate search for a medicine she met a sympathetic and wise man. A kind man who realized Kisa had become mentally unbalanced because of her grief.

He advised her to visit the Buddha. “I think he can help,” the man told Kisa.

She immediately followed his advice and rushed to the monastery where the Buddha was staying.

She arrived at the monastery with her dead child in her arms.

“Please, give me medicine for my son,” Kisa begged the Buddha.

The Buddha said he knew of a medicine that would help her. But she would have to get it herself.

Eagerly and happily she agreed.

“What is the medicine?” Kisa asked the Buddha.

“Mustard seed,” the Buddha answered. “Bring me mustard seed and I will help you.”

Kisa agreed and turned to go collect the seed.

The Buddha stopped her and told her, “You only need get a very small amount of seed. But the seed must come from a house where no one has ever died.”

India, 500 years before the Christian Era, Kisa had to find a house were no one had ever died.

At the first house she shared her need for mustard seed and was told she could have it. But, when she said the seed had to come from a house where no one had died, the woman at the door told Kisa her husband’s father had died just last week.

“I cannot use this seed,” Kisa said.

So she went to the next house. A grandfather had died. The next house, a little girl had died of an illness. And on to the next and the next and the next.

Toward evening she finally realized what the Buddha was teaching her. She took her baby to the cremation ground and then returned to the Buddha.

She had come to the understanding that death is the destiny of all people, all beings.

She became a nun.

The story of Kisa Gotami is usually told to remind us of impermanence, of the reality of death. And it does that well; it does that masterfully. But today we’re using this story to help us understand how strong emotion can at times help us deny a truth we don’t want to face. The story also helps us see how strong emotion can even cause us to act in unwholesome, unwise, or even foolish ways.

Remember in the story the man who sent Kisa to see the Buddha did so because he realized she had become mentally unbalanced because of her grief

Not only grief, anger and jealousy can have strong and sometimes detrimental effects on us. These strong emotions at times can give us the excuse to say and do things we know are not proper. Things we usually wouldn’t do or say.

It’s not only sadness, love can also be a reason we might do or say things we perhaps should avoid. Playing favorites. Choosing a person you like over one more qualified. Forgiving an error a friend commits but not forgiving the same error when done by a non-friend.

The fourth of the Four Noble Abodes is Equanimity. The dictionary says equanimity is “evenness of mind, especially under stress; right disposition; balance."

In our lives most of us can probably find an example were a strong emotion has helped us make an unwholesome or wrong decision. A time when a strong emotion has helped us act with a mind not balanced.

That is the other lesson the story of Kisa is teaching us, reminding us. To be aware, to be mindful. We practice meditation to help us in that awareness, that mindfulness.

Sorrow, sadness, happiness, and love are always going to be a part of our lives. We need to remember, to practice so we are able to guide our lives and not be led by these passing emotions.

Kisa’s great sorrow overwhelmed her. The Buddha carefully, slowly helped her remember and regain her equanimity.

We all have to remember what Kisa discovered: no house, no person, is without sadness or love, without comings and goings.

We remember this and we can live with balance and peace.


I have a dream.

---Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.---


The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.

---Niels Bohr---


The aim of every artist is to arrest motion.

---William Faulkner---

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Buddhist Children in Korea

Young South Korean Buddhists during the 'Children Becoming Buddhist Monks' ceremony in Seoul. The children will stay at the temple to learn about Buddhism for 21 days.

Male and Female

Shariputra said, "Why don't you change out of this female body?"

The goddess replied, "For the past twelve years I have been trying to take on female form, but in the end with no success. What is there to change? If a sorcerer were to conjure up a phantom woman and then someone asked her why she didn't change out of her female body, would that be any kind of reasonable question?"

"No," said Shariputra. "Phantoms have no fixed form, so what would there be to change?"

The goddess said, "All things are just the same--they have no fixed form. So why ask why I don't change out of my female form?"

At that time the goddess employed her supernatural powers to change Shariputra into a goddess like herself, while she took on Shariputra's form. Then she asked, "Why don't you change out of this female body?"

Shariputra, now in the form of a goddess, replied, "I don't know why I have suddenly changed and taken on a female body."

The goddess said, "Shariputra, if you can change out of this female body, then all women can change likewise. Shariputra, who is not a woman, appears in a woman's body. And the same is true of all women--though they appear in women's bodies, they are not women. Therefore the Buddha teaches that all phenomena are neither male nor female."

Then the goddess withdrew her supernatural powers, and Shariputra returned to his original form. The goddess said to Shariputra, "Where now is the form and shape of your female body?"

Shariputra said, "The form and shape of my female body does not exist, yet does not not exist."

The goddess said, "All things are just like that--they do not exist, yet do not not exist. And that they do not exist, yet do not not exist, is exactly what the Buddha teaches."

---The Vimalakirti Sutra---

A Conversation Between Vimalakirti and Manjushri

Manjushri: "How does one proceed by the method of correct mindfulness?"

Vimalakirti: "One proceeds on the premise of no birth and no extinction."

Manjushri: "What has no birth and what has no extinction?"

Vimalakirti: "The not good has no birth, the good has no extinction."

Manjushri: "What is the root of good and not good?"

Vimalakirti: "The body is the root."

Manjushri: "What is the root of the body?"

Vimalakirti: "Desire and greed are the root."

Manjushri: "What is the root of desire and greed?"

Vimalakirti: "False and empty distinctions are the root."

Manjushri: "What is the root of false and empty distinctions?"

Vimalakirti: "Topsy-turvy thinking is the root."

Manjushri: "What is the root of topsy-turvy thinking?"

Vimalakirti: "Groundless assumptions are the root of topsy-turvy thinking."

Manjushri: "What is the root of groundless assumptions?"

Vimalakirti: "What is groundless can have no root. Manjushri, it is on the root of this groundlessness that all the other concepts are built up."

---The Vimalakirti Sutra---

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Practice of the Bodhisattva

Olive Tree Wood by Claude Monet

To be in the realm of birth and death without following its tainted ways, to dwell in nirvana while not seeking eternal extinction--such is the practice of the bodhisattva.

---The Vimalakirti Sutra---

Twelve Signs of Spiritual Awakening

1.....An increased tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.

2.....Frequent attacks of smiling.

3.....Feelings of being connected with others and with nature.

4.....Frequent overwhelming episodes of appreciation.

5.....A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than from fears based on past experience.

6.....An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.

7.....A loss of ability to worry.

8.....A loss of interest in conflict.

9.....A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.

10...A loss of interest in judging others.

11...A loss of interest in judging yourself.

12...Gaining the ability to love without expecting anything in return.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Great Way

The Great Way is embracing and spacious--
to live in it is neither easy nor difficult.
Those who rely on limited views are fearful and irresolute:
the faster they hurry, the slower they go.
To have a narrow mind,
and to be attached to getting enlightenment
is to lose one's center and go astray.
When one is free from attachment,
all things are as they are,
and there is neither coming nor going.

---Hsin-Hsin Ming---

The Bodhisattva and the Buddha Way

If there are those looking for servants,
he shows himself as a groom or menial,
and after delighting his employers,
he rouses in them a mind for the way.

---The Vimalakirti Sutra---

The Bodhisattva and the Buddha Way

Sometimes he shows himself as a woman of
enticing those prone to lechery.
First he catches them with the hook of desire,
then he leads them into the Buddha Way.

---The Vimalakirti Sutra---

Not External Practices, Our Own Minds

It isn't the wisdom of prajna that's great or small. It's because all these beings have deluded themselves into looking for a buddha through external practices and haven't yet realized their own nature that they remain people of small capacity. And yet, on hearing this direct teaching, if they depend not on external practices but simply their own minds and they let their own nature give rise to right views, even all these beings with their mistaken views, their passions, and their afflictions will suddenly wake up, and like the ocean that takes in all rivers, the great and the small, and combines them into one, they will see their nature and not dwell on the inside or the outside. They will come and go freely and be able to get rid of attachments and penetrate everything without restriction. The mind that cultivates such a practice is basically no different from the Prajnaparamita Sutra.

---The Platform Sutra---


To see ourselves as others see us is a most salutary gift. Hardly less important is the capacity to see others as they see themselves.

---Aldous Huxley---

Thursday, July 18, 2013


The Eightfold Path

We know the Eightfold Path is not a set of commandments or regulations we’re obligated to follow. The Path is a set of guidelines and practices that’ll help us develop the capacity to realize the Truth.

It’s as if the Buddha was a map maker and the Eightfold Path is the map he offered us.

The Buddha called this map of guidelines the Noble Eightfold Path; the Chinese translate it as the “Path of Eight Right Practices.” Whatever name we give these guidelines we know they are not something we follow sequentially. The elements are something we do as a whole. We take them on as a whole. We apply them as a whole. It’s been said one element on the Path contains the other seven elements.

All Practitioners know Buddhism is not a belief system, we know it’s a practice. To be a Buddhist, to call yourself a Buddhist, you do something. What do you do? You look to the Eightfold Path for inspiration and guidance.


Why is it that wars are the only public works projects that never have trouble getting funded?

---Steve Shives---

Training the Mind

The Buddha by Ewa Adamczyk Alvarez

Buddhism is a way of life based on the training of the mind. Its ultimate aim is liberation from dukkha. Its immediate aim is to deny nourishment to the roots of dukkha in everyday life.

Bumber Sticker Moment

Wednesday, July 17, 2013