Sunday, February 26, 2017

Our Actions

The consequences of what we do now will outlive us. The irrevocability of our actions implies that we are responsible not only for our own conduct in this life but for the impact of our actions after our death.

~Stephen Batchelor


Dharma is truth. If you reach the truth, there is no big or small, no happiness or suffering. There is peace.

~Achaan Chah


Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.

 ~Alfred A. Montapert

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Purity and Impurity

By oneself is evil done;
by oneself is one defiled.
By oneself is evil left undone;
by oneself is one made pure.
Purity and impurity depend on oneself;
no one can purify another.

                  ~The Dhammapada, verse 165

Jerk-Type Things and the Realization of the Truth

You can do jerk-type things, or you can avoid doing jerk-type things. The moment you know that jerk-type action does not exist outside your own conduct, that is realization of the truth.

This is not a once-and-for-all realization. It appears dynamically, moment after moment. When enlightened people understand that not being a jerk requires not doing jerk-type things, they behave like decent people at each moment in the past, present, and future.

~Brad Warner, in Don't Be a Jerk

Simple Celery-Tomato Simmer

3 tablespoons of butter
2 cups of celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon of minced onion
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of water
2 large tomatoes, diced

Melt the butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat.

Add the celery, the onion, the salt, the pepper, and the water. Bring to the boil. Lower the heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, stir a few times, cover, and simmer until the celery is tender to your liking.

As a side, this will serve 4 people.

Starving-Student Tomato Casserole

3 tablespoons of olive oil (Do not use extra-virgin olive oil for cooking.)
2/3 of a cup of seasoned bread crumbs
6 large tomatoes, quartered
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 (or more to taste) tablespoons of Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread half of the oil over the bottom of a deep baking dish.

Sprinkle half of the bread crumbs onto the oil.

Arrange the tomato wedges on the bread crumbs.

Cover the tomatoes with the remaining bread crumbs. Sprinkle the crumbs with the remaining oil, the salt and the pepper.

Cover the dish and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the cover and bake for 20 minutes more.

This should feed 3 to 4 hungry students.

Remember, a recipe is a guide not gospel. If you need more bread crumbs or more tomatoes, go for it. If you want a little heat, add some crushed red pepper flakes along with the salt and the pepper.

A Monk's Poem

Only when you are neither wise nor foolish
can you be called one who has attained the way.


Don't Imitate

We have to be aware of how people tend to imitate their teachers. They become copies, prints, castings. It is like the story of the king's horse trainer. The old trainer died, so the king hired a new trainer. Unfortunately, this man limped when he walked. New and beautiful horses were brought to him, and he trained them exquisitely—to run, to canter, to pull carriages. But each of the new stallions developed a limp. Finally, the king summoned the trainer, and seeing him limp as he entered the court, he understood everything and immediately hired a new trainer.

As teachers, you must be aware of the focus of the examples you set. And, even more important, as students, you must not follow the image, the outer form, of your teacher. He is pointing you back to your own inner perfection. Take the inner wisdom as your model, and do not imitate his limp.

~Achaan Chah


The pursuit of Buddhism throughout its long history has always been to free humanity of greed, hatred, and ignorance, and whatever we may isolate from the body of Buddhism as "philosophy" or "practice" always has that pursuit in mind.

Native Chinese Influence on Buddhist Practice

By a return to the "source," which is that innate ability to respond innocently and in a childlike manner to experience, the individual transcended those maddening contraries of "is" and "is not" which Chuang-tzu spoke of, and learned the difficult art of noncalculating action, or the nonaction in action which in Chinese is called wu-wei. The enlightened person is presumably he who has expunged from his nature the learned responses to life's situations which lead ordinary men to favor one experience over another. In "returning to the source," the individual has discovered that inmost core of subjectivity in which all the ferocious contraries are completely resolved. The difference between this view of the sage and that of Indian Buddhism can be seen quite clearly when we compare the two as portrayed in their respective traditions. The Indian figure—a Manjusri, Sakyamuni, or Avalokitesvara—is dressed in a manner befitting royalty, and royalty they are, though not profane royalty. Jewels hang from neck, ears, arms, and legs; the hair is elaborately arranged; and he wears the robes of a prince. The pose is especially remarkable. The figure often sits cross-legged in yogic meditation, regal, aloof, with eyes half closed in eternal samadhi, the faint smile on the lips betraying the unspeakable bliss of one who has found a peace far removed from the dust and turmoil of the earthly arena. In contrast, the Chinese saint, perhaps best portrayed in the figures of Pu-tai and those rascally saints Shih-te and Han-shan, is frequently rather fat, jovial, and totally relaxed. He is barefooted and his hair and clothes (more like rags) are in negligent disarray. He obviously still enjoys plum wine and a good meal; there is nothing of the renunciant about him. He travels freely from village to village, dispensing goodies from his bag to the children who tease him and adore him, never for a moment losing the happy, silly grin of a man who knows who he is ("Nobody") and where he is ("Nowhere"). These figures are painted over and over by Chines artists, and there lesson is clear. The emancipated individual is not superhuman or royal, like the Indian Buddhas and Bodhisattvas; he would never walk on water or levitate. And who wants to sit forever in yogic withdrawal when one can play games with the village urchins? They delight in the ordinary, the simple, and the humble—chopping wood and carrying water, therein lies the wonderful Way. To the person who has seen things in their true form, what can there be which is really negligible or contemptible?

~Francis H Cook, in Hua-yen Buddhism: The Jewel Net of Indra

Humanity Often Thinks: I Am Superior to All & The Universe Was Created For Me and My Use

i met a toad
the other day by the name
of warty bliggens
he was sitting under
a toadstool
feeling contented
he explained that when the cosmos
was created
this toadstool was especially
planned for his personal
shelter from sun and rain
thought out and prepared
for him
do not tell me
said warty bliggens
that there is not a purpose in the universe
the thought is blasphemy
a little more
conversation revealed
that warty bliggens
considers himself to be
the center of the said
the earth exists
to grow toadstools for him
to sit under
the sun to give him light
by day and the moon
and wheeling constellations
to make beautiful
the night for the sake of
warty bliggens
~Don Marquis

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


A prison is any situation where you don't want to be.

                                                                  ~Ajahn Brahm

Holding Fire

Holding onto anger, holding onto resentment, is akin to holding fire. It burns you. It injures you. It's not helpful.

Saturday, February 18, 2017


The Teaching and the Practice of Buddhism offers a fourfold approach for the elimination of stress and anxiety in ourselves and in others.

1 . . . To be aware of the tremendous power of our cognitive and            emotional habits.

2 . . . To practice mindfulness of body and emotions.

3 . . . To be aware of the interdependence of all things.

4 . . . To practice meditation.

This is a learning process that helps us to be intimate with ourselves and all others, all things, everything. This intimacy will guide us to be compassionate, joyous, and free.


The Pali Jhana, the Sanskrit Dhyana, the Chinese Ch'an, the Korean Seon, and the Japanese Zen all mean Meditation.

Meditation is a tool.

The Four Jhanas (Four Meditations) are tools:

1. The first jhana (meditation) is the rapture and pleasure born of seclusion from the five senses. The first jhana may seem to come and go, to strengthen and weaken.

2. The second jhana is the rapture and pleasure born of concentration. It's the perfection of samadhi. The “doer” vanishes. The second jhana is stable, no rising and falling as in the first jhana.

3. The rapture of the first two jhanas disappears in the third jhana, leaving behind serenity.

4. The serenity of the third jhana disappears, leaving what Venerable Ajahn Brahm calls “the bliss of no more bliss.” The fourth jhana exhibits true tranquility.

Meditation, jhana, zen = Tool. Don't get enraptured by the tool. Meditation (jhana or the jhanas) is/are not something to hang onto or to long for in and of themselves—they're tools. The finger pointing at the moon is not the moon.

Buddhism in a Nutshell

The Buddha taught there is stress and anxiety in life.

He taught the causes of the stress and anxiety in life.

He taught, if you understand these causes, you can lessen or eliminate the stress and anxiety in life.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Awakened One

What is the delight of life? What is the tragedy of life? What is the emancipation of life?

~Siddhartha Gautama

When Siddhartha discovered the authentic responses to these questions he became the Buddha.

Bonsai Features


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

What attains Nirvana? This 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 there is no "I" in Nirvana.


If any teach Nirvana is to cease,
Say unto such they lie.
If any teach Nirvana is to live,
Say unto such they err.

                               ~Sir Edwin Arnold

Starving-Student Simple Corn Soup

2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of flour
Minced onion to taste (The first time you make this soup try 1 teaspoon of minced onion. Learn from that, otherwise you might have Onion Soup with Corn.)
2 cups of milk
1 can of corn, drained
Salt and pepper to taste

In a suitable-sized pot, melt the butter over medium heat.

Add the flour and stir well. Allow the butter and flour to cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. (You want to cook the flour. Otherwise your soup will have a raw flour flavor.)

Gradually add the milk, stirring as you do.

Heat to almost boiling, stirring constantly.

Add the corn.

Again, heat to almost boiling.

Turn off the heat and season with the salt and the pepper.

This soup has a very 'calm' flavor. Serve it with hot sauce. Or add a minced pickled jalapeno slice or two.

Onions Parmesan

3 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of flour
1 medium onion minced
1/3 cup of of milk
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup of bread crumbs
1/3 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 large onions, sliced

Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees F.

In a large saucepan melt the butter.

Add the flour and mix until well blended. Cook the butter and flour for 1 minute, stirring frequently.

Add the minced, the milk, the salt and the pepper to taste, the bread crumbs, and the cheese. Mix this all very well.

Butter the sides and bottom of a casserole and place the onion slices in the dish.

Pour/spread the cheese-onion mixture over the sliced onions.

Bake for 35 minutes, until the sliced onions are tender.

Sauteed Leeks

Artwork: Leeks by Jennifer Abbot

3 tablespoons of butter
4 medium leeks, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon of minced green bell pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a skillet.

Add the sliced leeks, the green pepper, and the salt and pepper.

Cover and saute over low heat until the leeks are just tender.

Remove the cover, raise the heat to high, and cook for a few minutes more, turning frequently, until they are done to your satisfaction.

This is Life

There never was, there never will be, nor is there now, a person who is wholly blamed or wholly praised.

        ~The Dhammapada, verse 228

What Do I Do?

Overcome the angry by non-anger;
overcome the wicked by goodness;
overcome the miser by generosity;
overcome the liar by truth.

                   ~The Dhammapada, verse 223

The Four Worldly Winds

These are the things that usually guide us.

These are the things that should not guide us.

1 . . . Pleasure and Pain

2 . . . Gain and Loss

3 . . . Fame and Disrepute

4 . . . Praise and Blame

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Sage

The Sage has no interests of his own,
But takes the interests of the people as his own.
He is kind to the kind;
He is also kind to the unkind:
For Virtue is kind.
He is faithful to the faith;
He is also faithful to the unfaithful:
For Virtue is faithful.

In the midst of the world, the Sage is shy and self-effacing.
For the sake of the world he keeps his heart in its nebulous state.
All the people strain their ears and eyes:
The Sage only smiles like an amused infant.

                                                                      ~The Tao Teh Ching


Mara can be said to represent the powerful hold the world—through the only way we experience the world, our senses—can have on our mind.

Mara is the power our experiences have in seducing, ensnaring, and enslaving the unaware mind.

Seduced by Mara we can remain lost in the stimulation of the senses and fail to see the path that leads to the ending of our stress and anxiety.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

What Did the Buddha Teach?

The early sutras present the Buddha's teaching as the solution to a problem. The problem is the fundamental problem of life. In Pali the problem is named dukkha; in Sanskrit duhkha. These words can be translated as stress, anxiety, discomfort, dis-ease, or suffering.

In a passage in the Majjhima Nikaya the Buddha says he has always made known just two things; namely dukkha and the cessation of dukkha.

This statement may be regarded as expressing the basic orientation of Buddhism for all times and in all places. The classic formulation is 'The Four Noble Truths': the truth of the nature of dukkha, the truth of the nature of dukkha's cause, the truth of the nature of dukkha's cessation, and the truth of the nature of the path leading to dukkha's cessation.

The temptation to think of these four 'truths' as a kind of Buddhist creed should be resisted. The Four Noble Truths do not represent truth claims that one must intellectually assent to when one makes the decision to follow the Buddha's Teaching, on becoming a Buddhist. Part of the problem is with the word 'truth'. The Pali word sacca and the Sanskrit word satya can certainly be translated as truth, but they can equally be rendered as 'real' or 'actual thing.'

We're not dealing with propositional truths with which we must either agree or disagree, but with four 'true things' or 'realities' whose nature, we are told, the Buddha realized or finally understood on the night of his awakening.

The teachings of the Buddha therefore state dukkha, its cause, its cessation, and the path to its cessation which we fail to see as they are, and this is as true for Buddhist as for non-Buddhist. A Buddhist is one committed to trying to follow the Buddha's prescriptions for coming to see these realities as they are.

One of the earliest summary statements of these truths is from the Samyutta Nikaya:

This is the noble of dukkha: birth is dukkha, aging is dukkha, sickness is dukkha, dying is dukkha, sorrow, grief, pain, unhappiness, and unease are dukkha; being united with what is not liked is dukkha, separation from what is liked is dukkha; not to get what one wants is dukkha; in short, the five aggregates of grasping are suffering.
     This is the noble truth of the origin of dukkha; the thirst for repeated existence which, associated with delight and greed, delights in this and that, namely the thirst for the objects of sense desire, the thirst for existence, and the thirst for non-existence.
     This is the noble truth of the cessation of dukkha: the complete fading away and cessation of this very thirst—its abandoning, relinquishing, releasing, letting go.
     This is the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering: the noble eightfold path, namely right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.

Friday, February 3, 2017

A Wise Thought

We need only be aware and respond properly to every situation that life places before us. With this wise thought as our guideline, we can strive to act morally, intelligently, sensitively, and compassionately.

~Ajahn Sumano

The Path

The path that leads out of the maze is the one that follows both our spiritual inclination and the laws of nature. So, by design, we are already programmed to seek a way out and to make good our escape.

~Ajahn Sumano

Bertrand Russell's Advice for Future Generations

Starving-Student Tortilla Supper

Vegetable oil
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5-ounce) can of diced tomatoes (Diced tomatoes with green chilies if you're brave.)
1 1/2 tablespoons of chili powder (Leave this out if you're using the tomatoes with the green chilies.)
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups of your favorite salsa
4 ounces of soft tofu
2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice
12 6-inch flour tortillas
1 cup (Or to taste.) of shredded cheese of your choice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Lightly oil a 9x13-inch baking dish.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds.

Add the pinto beans, the tomatoes, the chili powder (if using), and the salt and the pepper to taste. Lower the heat and simmer until the tomato liquid has cooked away.

Remove from the heat.

In a food processor, combine the salsa, the tofu, the lime juice, and 1/2 cup of the bean mixture.

Spread a thin layer of the tofu-and-salsa mixture over the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange 6 of the torillas on top, overlapping as needed.

Spread the remaining bean mixture over the tortillas and cover with the remaining tortillas.

Top with the remaining tofu-and-salsa mixture and sprinkle with the shredded cheese.

Bake until hot and bubbly and lightly browned on top, about 30 minutes.

Allow it to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with sour cream, lime wedges, and hot sauce. A sprinkling of chopped iceberg lettuce adds a nice fresh crunch.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

A More Enlightened World

It is enlightened to abolish slavery. It is enlightened to attend to the welfare of animals. It is enlightened to create the conditions for world peace. It is enlightened to help others in myriad everyday ways. It is enlightened to recognize others as brothers and sisters. It is enlightened to view yourself objectively and not collude with superstition. Basically, it is enlightened to be kind and to stand up against cruelty. Every enlightened action contributes to the emergence of a more enlightened world.

~David Brazier

A Beacon of Hope

The Dalai Lama's continuing search for peace and reconciliation in circumstances where most other comparable leaders would have opted for guerrilla warfare stands out like a beacon of hope in a dark world and touches the consciences of many.

~David Brazier

Freedom From Superstitious Escapism

Two and a half thousand years ago, in norther India, the tradition we refer to as Buddhism was born. The new socio-religious movement spread rapidly in its early days and has become one of the most enduring and successful of such movements in history. It's older than Christianity or Islam and more international than Judaism, Hinduism, or Confucianism.

Why did the Practice and the Teaching spread so? Because of the depth of inspiration of its founder, the clarity of his message, and the personal and social implications of the Teaching.

Buddhism was an inspired protest against of the oppressive conservatism, the superstition, the greed, the racism, and the belligerence of the world into which it was born.

The word Buddha means "awakened one." Buddhism can therefore be said to mean "the way of awakening." You may call it a religion, a way of life, or a vision of human perfectibility. For twenty-five hundred years it has been a light for those who would live the better life and create a better world with resort neither to superstitious escapism on the one hand nor violent coercion on the other.

To be awakened, or enlightened as some say, is to be compassionate, tolerant, reasonable, moral and engaged in a life that benefits humankind and all life—that contributes to the emancipation of all sentient beings from avoidable stress and exploitation.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Buddhism and Gender Equality

Although the Buddha did allow women into his order, in his day women had to train separately, and this remained the case up until Buddhism came to the West. Zen Buddhism arrived in America at the height of the civil and women's rights movements of the sixties and seventies, and so coeducational Buddhist monasteries were established. They were the first co-ed Buddhist monasteries to exist anywhere. Furthermore, the San Francisco Zen Center added the names of prominent female teachers to the traditional chanting of the Buddhist lineage, which had included only male teachers up till then.

~Brad Warner, in Don't Be A Jerk

Conditioned Arising and Nirvana

It is true that Buddhist orthodoxies often present "conditioned arising" and "nirvana" as subtle and difficult concepts to grasp, yet their definitions in the Pali discourses are not that hard to understand. "Conditioned arising" boils down to the underlying principle of contingency, whereas "nirvana" is simply the ending (for shorter or longer durations) of reactivity. Any difficulty we might have in seeing or awakening to them is not primarily conceptual but existential.

~Stepehen Batchelor, in after buddhism


In meditation we learn to neither engage or suppress a thought or an emotion.

We take what we have learned in meditation and apply it to our daily life. We do not engage or suppress a desire. We allow it to pass.

The Sage

Sages do not say they are
    Inferior, superior, or equal [to others].
    Peaceful, unselfish,
    They neither embrace nor reject.

                                      ~The Buddha

Buddhist Discourses

Buddhist discourses are provisional teachings, whose purpose is to promote the alleviation of dukkha through letting go of attachment.

Buddhist discourses are not a means of explaining the universe; they are simply words that may help us find freedom.


It should be understood that Buddhism is not geared toward explaining the nature of the universe. Buddhism is geared toward explaining experience; the material we have to work with in terms of taking care of human stress and anxiety and suffering, dukkha.

Buddhism tells us we don't know anything that is not filtered through our senses and our experience.


Voramai Kabilsingh (1908-2003) was the first Thai woman to receive full ordination and take the accompanying 311 Precepts.

A young man ashed her, "How do you keep 311 precepts?"

Voramai Kabilsingh answered, "I keep only one precept."

Surprised, the young man asked, "Which one?"

She replied, "I just watch my mind."


Two monks were debating outside their monastery.

The one said to the other, "The wind is moving."

The other replied, "The flag is moving."

The Sixth Ch'an Patriarch Hui-Neng was walking by and said, "Not the wind, not the flag, mind is moving."

The First Precept

The First Moral Precept: I undertake the training rule to abstain from the taking of life.

Thich Nhat Hanh has reformulate this precept as follows: Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating compassion and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to support any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, and in my way of life.

When considering the First Precept, please keep in mind there has to be four factors present to make the action of killing a negative act.

1...There has to be the object of the killing. One must understand the object being killed to be a living being.

2...There has to be the intention of killing. To step unknowingly on an insect is not a negative act. To purposely aim your car at a cat and run it over is a negative act.

3...There has to be the action of killing.

4. The death has to occur.

The First Precept asks us to do two things: to avoid taking a life and to protect life whenever and wherever possible. Buddhism is not a passive tradition. We act when we are able to act. And we guide our actions by Compassion and Wisdom.

In Buddhism the question is not “What is right or wrong thing to do?” The question is “What is the wisest and most compassionate thing to do.”

Think Vegan


Compassion, as taught and lived by the Buddhist Tradition, can be summed up as the practice of relieving suffering and giving joy.