Saturday, December 31, 2016

Avoid all evil,
cultivate the good,
purify your mind:
this sums up the teaching of the Buddhas.

                                                   ---The Dhammapada, verse 183---

The All

Monks, I will teach you the all. Listen to this.

And what, monks, is the all? The eye and forms, the ear and sounds, the nose and smells, the tongue and taste, the body and sensations, the mind and its contents. That is called the all.

If anyone, monks, should say—"Having rejected this all, I shall make known another all"—that would be a mere empty boast on his part. If he were questioned, he would not be able to reply, and, further, he would end up frustrated. Why? Because, monks, that all would not be within his domain.

---The Buddha---

Three Questions

When I was still a bodhisattva, it occurred to me to ask: "What is the delight of life? What is the tragedy of life? What is the emancipation of life?" Then monks, it occurred to me to answer: "The happiness and joy that arise conditioned by life, that is the delight of life; that life is impermanent, difficult, and changing, that is the tragedy of life; the removal and abandonment of grasping for life, that is the emancipation of life."

---The Buddha---

The Wrong Road

A wandering ascetic, having heard of the Buddha, traveled everywhere looking for him. One night he came to stay in a house where the Buddha was also staying, not knowing the Buddha's physical appearance, he was unaware of his presence. The next morning he arose and continued on his way, still searching for the Buddha. To search for peace and enlightenment without correct understanding is like this.

Due to a lack of understanding of the truth of suffering and its elimination, all subsequent factors on the path will be wrong—wrong intentions, wrong speech, wrong actions, and wrong practice of concentration and tranquility. Your likes and dislikes are not a trustworthy guide in this matter either, although foolish people may take them for their ultimate reference. Alas, it is like traveling to a certain town—you unknowingly start out on the wrong road, and since it is a convenient one, you travel it in comfort. But it will not take you where you want to go.

---Achaan Chah---

The Welfare of Both

One who repays an angry man with anger
thereby makes things worse for himself.
Not repaying an angry man with anger,
one wins a battle hard to win.

He practices for the welfare of both—
his own and the other's—
when, knowing that his foe is angry,
he mindfully maintains his peace.

                                 ---Samyutta Nikaya---

Nothing Permanent

All created things are transitory; those who realize this are freed from suffering. This is the path that leads to pure wisdom.

---The Dhammapada, verse 227---

This False Sense of Self

The Buddha saw that whatever the mind gives rise to are just transitory, conditioned phenomena, which are really empty. When this dawned on him, he let go, gave up, and found an end to suffering. You too must understand these matters according to the truth. When you know things are as they are, you will see that these elements of mind are a deception, in keeping with the Buddha's teaching that this mind has nothing, does not arise, is not born, and does not die with anyone. It is free, shining, resplendent, with nothing to occupy it. The mind become occupied only because it misunderstands and is deluded by these conditioned phenomena, this false sense of self.

---Achaan Chah---

Thought Constructions

When the heart is still, it is in its normal condition; when the mind moves, thought is constructed. Happiness and sorrow are part of the movement of mind, this thought construction. So also is restlessness, the desire to go here and there. If you do not understand such movement, you will chase after thought constructions and be at their mercy.

---Achaan Chah---

Baked Bananas

4 firm bananas
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/2 cup of honey
8 tablespoons of butter

Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Peel the bananas and cut them in half, and then cut each half lengthwise.

Arrange the pieces in a casserole and sprinkle them with the cinnamon, the sugar, and the nutmeg.

Pour the honey over the top and dot it all with small pieces of butter.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Serve with whipped cream.


No matter what 2017 brings, I'm the author of my responses.

When You Practice, Observe Yourself

Achaan Chah

In my own practice, I did not know or study much. I took the straightforward teachings the Buddha gave and simply began to study my own mind according to nature. When you practice, observe yourself. Then gradually knowledge and vision will arise of themselves. If you sit in meditation and want it to be this way or that, you better stop right there. Do not bring ideals or expectations to your practice. Take your studies, your opinions, and store them away.

---Achaan Chah---

Whipped Cream Mayonnaise

1 cup of whipping cream
1/2 cup of mayonnaise (not salad dressing)
1/4 teaspoon of salt

Whip the cream.

Fold the whipped cream and the salt into the mayonnaise.

Great on vegetable salads, molded fruit salads. and on any leftover found in the back of the fridge.

Watching Other People Will Not Help Your Practice

Trying to get everyone to act as you wish them to act will only make you suffer. No one can practice for you, nor can you practice for anyone else. Watching other people will not help your practice; watching other people will not develop wisdom. It is a great defilement on your part.

---Achaan Chah---


If we think others are worse than, better than, or the same as we are, we spin off the road.

---Achaan Chah---

Correct Practice

Whether you walk one way or another, fast or slow, if you are mindful, it's all the same. There's one essential point that all good practice must eventually come to—not clinging. In the end, you must let go of all meditation systems. Nor can you cling to the teacher. If a system leads to relinquishment, to not clinging, then it is correct practice.

---Achaan Chah---


It is essential that you learn to examine yourself, to interview yourself.

                                                                        ---Achaan Chah---


Just wake up! You create your own world.

                                     ---Achaan Chah---

Friday, December 30, 2016

Lake Michigan Potato Salad

5 potatoes, boiled and cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
3 ounces of blue cheese, crumbled
3 tablespoons of vinegar
1 cup of celery, minced
3/4 cup of mayonnaise
3/4 cup of sour cream
3 tablespoons of sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients and refrigerate over night.

Garnish with pimento, black olives, and parsley (optional, of course - garnish however you want)

Real Magic

There is only one real magic, the magic of the Dharma, the teaching that can liberate the mind and put and end to suffering. Any other magic is like the illusion of a card trick—it distracts us from the real game, our relation to human life, to birth and death, and to freedom.

---Achaan Chah---

An End To Suffering

The Buddha saw that whatever the mind gives rise to are just transitory, conditioned phenomena, which are really empty. When this dawned on him, he let go, gave up, and found an end to suffering.

---Achaan Chah---


The question is not how long or short you sit. You must use your concentration not to temporarily get lost in bliss but to deeply examine the nature of the mind and body. This is what actually frees you.

---Achaan Chah---


We seek not for a life of pleasure, but to find peace. Peace is within oneself, to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. To try to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it. Investigate suffering, see its causes, and put an end to them right now, rather than merely dealing with their effects.

---Achaan Chah---

Learning Through Life

Boredom is not a real problem; if we look closely we can see that the mind is always active. Thus, we always have work to do.

Relying on yourself to do little things—like cleaning up carefully after the meal, doing chores gracefully and mindfully, not banging on kettles—helps develop concentration and makes practice easier. It can also indicate to you whether or not you have really established mindfulness or are still getting lost in defilement.

You Westerners are generally in a hurry; therefore, you will have greater extremes of happiness, suffering, and defilement. If you practice correctly, the fact that you have to deal with many problems can be a source of deep wisdom later on.

---Achaan Chah---


Nirvana is the ceasing of reactivity.

Corn Pudding

8 ears of sweet corn
2 1/2 cups of milk
5 large eggs, very lightly beaten
1/3 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the kernels from the cobs. Put the kernels in a food processor and pulse a few times.

Thoroughly mix the corn with all the other ingredients.

Butter a casserole or baking dish. Pour the mixture into the dish and dot it with butter. Bake the pudding for 20 minutes until it is set and golden brown.

Depending on appetites, this will serve anywhere from 8 to 12 people.


Dukkha is the tragic dimension of life, implicit in experience because the world is constantly shifting and changing into something else. Dukkha is life's minor key, its bittersweet taste, its annoyingly fugitive charm, its fascinating and terrifying sublimity. The origin of dukkha lies in the very structure of the world itself, not in an emotion such as craving or an erroneous cognition such as ignorance. A contingent and impermanent world like ours is not the kind of place where we will find enduring happiness. Yet the more we wholeheartedly open ourselves to and embrace this tragic dimension, the more we appreciate the beauty, joy, and enchantment of the world: precisely because they are fleeting and destined to vanish,

The whirling disintegration of the world is a failing to be deplored only if we measure the world against the eternity, perfection, and unity of an Absolute. But God or God's surrogates are outside one's domain, the world is just what it is, neither to be preferred to nor rejected in favor of something else. Instead of grasping hold of the world in order to preserve it from falling apart, or recoiling from it in order to transcend it, someone who practices the dharma embraces the world in order to comprehend it. Such an embrace nurtures a contemplative relation with experience, where attending to what is happening transforms its passing into the fertile nirvanic space from which an unprecedented response to the world's dukkha can emerge.

---Stephen Batchelor, in after buddhism---

Tripitaka Koreana

                                               Finding the way blocked by utter gibberish
                                               I turned back  
                                               and saw
                                               a snake.

                                               Snakes know the ways of snakes so well.

                                                                                             ---Ko Un---

Stephen Batchelor on Consciousness

Consciousness emerges out of the entire complex of interactions between an organism and its environment.

For Gotama there can be no such thing as a "pure" consciousness, an unconditioned or pristine "knowing" that exists independently of the phenomenal world of discrete physical things and processes.