Friday, March 31, 2017

A Recovered Teaching

As the practice of mindfulness finds its way into mainstream Western culture, more and more people today find themselves engaging in a form of Buddhist meditation. Such men and women may have little or no interest in Buddhism as a religion; their adoption of meditation occurs entirely within secular contexts such as healthcare, education, or the workplace.

The very fact that a core practice of an ancient world religion can be shown through clinical trials to be effect irrespective of whether one is a Buddhist raises fundamental questions about the nature of Buddhism itself. Is this tradition best characterized as a religion? Or did it start out as a practical philosophy and mutate into a religion. Might we still be able to recover from the teachings of the Buddha a vision of human flourishing that is secular rather than religious in orientation yet without compromising the integrity of the dharma?

~Stephen Batchelor, in Secular Buddhism


The Buddha used the term ariya to refer to those who had achieved a direct experiential insight into the nature of the four truths (suffering, its origins, its cessation, and the way to its cessation).

For such people these truths are no longer beliefs or theories but realities. When someone comes to know them as such, he or she is said to have "entered the stream."

~Stephen Batchelor, in Secular Buddhism

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Our Nature

Malice turns us into beasts. Compassion turns us into bodhisattvas. Wisdom transports us to the higher realms, and ignorance sends us into the lower depths. Our nature is constantly transforming itself. But deluded people are unaware of this.

~The Sutra of Hui-neng


Unless you know your own mind, studying the Dharma is useless. But once you know your own mind and see your nature, you understand what is truly important.

~The Sutra of Hui-neng

Respect of Others

As Practitioners, we need always remember, respecting other peoples' viewpoints is a hallmark of Buddhism.

Onion Patties

3/4 cup of flour
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of cornmeal
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
3/4 cup of milk
2 1/2 cups of finely chopped onion

Mix the dry ingredients.

Mix in the milk. This should give you a fairly thick batter.

Add the chopped onions and mix thoroughly.

Drop the batter by spoonfuls into hot oil in a skillet.

Flatten the drops into patties when you turn them.

Serve with bread and sliced tomatoes. Or, serve anyway you desire.

Starving-Student Refrigerator Salad

1 large head of cabbage, chopped
1/2 cup of cider vinegar
1 cup of celery, diced
2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoon of whole mustard seeds, or 1/4 teaspoon of ground mustard seed (Or to taste. Some prefer a bit more mustard, some a little less. I'm a mustard fan and enjoy a little more.)
1/2 cup of chopped onion
2 cups of sugar
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon of celery seed

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Transfer the mixture to a large glass jar. Screw on the lid and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Use the salad as needed.

It will last a long time if refrigerated.

The Way

Buddha is our True Nature

Following our Nature is called the Way.

Cultivating the Way is called the Practice.


It is necessary to cultivate some discipline of mind, for an undisciplined mind always finds excuses to act selfishly and thoughtlessly. When the mind is undisciplined, the body is also undisciplined, and so is speech and action.

~The Anguttara Nikaya

No One Can Do It For You, You Must Do It Yourself

I bring you great and good news. There's a way from the stress and anxiety of this transitory life to real happiness, and that way is open to all. But the way is hard, and there's no magical method of making it easy. It means strenuous and constant self-examination; it means renouncing all that you foolishly prize now—your present self, in fact, with all the ignorant cravings and blind urges that make it what it is. No one can tread this path for you, neither god nor human; you must tread it for yourself. So begin now. Be alert, steadfastly alert. Make the most sustained effort of which you are capable. Let nothing entice you to dally by the wayside—neither self-indulgence, nor the mistaken urge to self-punishment, nor vain metaphysical curiosity, nor the desire for companionship with those not yet ready to enter upon the path. Face uncompromisingly toward the goal. And victory over self—the greatest of all victories, and the key to peace and joy—will be won.

A Convert's Intention

One of my students, a convert from a large Christian denomination, said they were having trouble with residual guilt.

"What have you done that makes you feel guilty?" I asked.

"Christianity taught me I was born guilty of a sin I did not commit and I am unworthy of God's love," the Student answered. "Christianity taught me to feel guilty about every emotion I experience."

"What are you going to do?" I asked.

"Learn, through the practice of compassion and wisdom, to let that guilt and that unworthiness fall aware."


"By not attending to it. By not feeding it."

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


One should note, the understanding of Reality must come through personal experience. It cannot come by hearsay or the opinion of others.


Anything we have a craving for, which changes or is lost, causes dukkha.

In the Dhammapada, in verse 216, the Buddha is recorded as saying, "From craving springs grief, from craving springs fear. For the one who is wholly free from craving there is no grief; whence then fear?"

The Worship of Mammon

High thinking is inconsistent with complicated material life based on high speed imposed on us by Mammon worship.



The more I practice it the clearer I see how far I am from the full expression of ahimas* in my life.


* Not to injure, compassion.

Forced Ethics

The mind of a man who remains good under compulsion cannot improve, in fact it worsens.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017


It is only after you have carried your own water that you learn the value of every drop. 

The Dharma

A Dharma that is not present in today's world is of no use to anyone at all. A useful Dharma can only exist if it is the truth.

The Goal

It would be a great mistake to assume that the "end" or the "goal" of Buddhism is some kind of experience of being Enlightened or Awakened. The "goal" is the Way itself. 


One is not wise because one speaks much. He who is peaceable, friendly, and fearless is called wise.

~The Dhammapada, verse 258

The Practice

Irrigators regulate the waters;
fletchers straighten the arrow shaft;
carpenters shape the wood;
the wise control themselves.

                               ~The Dhammapada, verse 80

To Sivaka (Number 1)

The Teacher was once staying at the squirrels' feeding ground in the Bamboo Grove at Rajagaha. Then the wanderer Topknot Sivaka approached and exchanged greetings with him. After a pleasant and courteous conversation, he sat down to one side and said, "Gotama, there are some wanderers and brahmins who voice the opinion and hold the view that whatever a person experiences—be it pleasant, painful, or neither—is caused by what was done in the past. What do you say about this?"

The Buddha answered, "Some experiences are caused by bile, some by phlegm, some by wind, some by all three together. Some experiences are caused by the change of season, some by poor care, some by sudden assault, and some are the fruit of one's actions.

"You can know for yourself how such experiences occur.

" People in the world agree on how such experiences occur.

"Those who believe that all experience is caused by what was done in the past overestimate what can be known by themselves and what is accepted as true in the world. Therefore, I say that those wanderers and brahmins are mistaken."

~The Samyutta Nikaya

To Sivaka (Number 2)

Again the wanderer Topknot Sivaka approached and exchanged greetings with the Teacher. After a pleasant and courteous conversation, he sat down to one side and said, "You talk of a 'clearly visible dharma,' sir. In what respect is the dharma clearly visible, immediate, inviting, uplifting, to be personally experienced by the wise?"

The Buddha answered, "Let me ask you a question about this. Respond as you see fit. What do you think: When there is greed within you, do you know 'there's greed within me,' and when there is no greed within you, do you know 'there's no greed within me'?"

Topknot Sivaka answered, "Yes."

The Buddha continued, "With greed, hatred, delusion, and those qualities of mind associated with greed, hatred, and delusion, when they are within you do you know they are present? And when they are not within you, do you know they are absent?"

Topknot Sivaka answered, "Yes."

The Buddha said, "It is in this way that the dharma is clearly visible, immediate, inviting, uplifting, to be personally experienced by the wise."

Sivaka said to the Teacher, "Excellent, sir. From now on regard me as an adherent who goes for refuge as long as he draws breath."

~The Anguttara Nikaya


The Buddha confirmed and emphasized family relationship, exhorting all persons who decided to remain in the worldly life to maintain family ties together with the honor and dignity of the family as a social unit.

~Hammalawa Saddhatissa, in Buddhist Ethics

Starving-Student Potato and Cheese Casserole

4 cups of mashed potatoes
1 cup of your favorite cheese, grated
2 eggs, slightly beaten
Cayenne powder to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix the mashed potatoes with 1/2 of the grated cheese and the two beaten eggs.

Season with the cayenne to taste.

Top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.

Bake for 25 minutes.

Serve hot with sliced tomatoes and cucumbers.

Poppy Seed Noodles

1 (8 ounce) package of wide noodle, cooked and drained (do not rinse)
1/4 cup of butter, melted
2 tablespoons of poppy seeds
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Toss the noodles with the melted butter and the poppy seeds.

Season to taste with the black pepper.

Okra Succotash

3 cups of sliced okra
16 ounces of sweet corn
1 (14 1/2) ounce can of stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup of chopped onions

Combine the ingredients in a large skillet.

Cover the skillet and simmer for 15 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and black pepper (or cayenne powder).

Note: For a change you can saute the onion is a little melted butter until they begin to caramelize. Proceed with the recipe as usual.


If the aim or purpose of theistic traditions is for a more intimate relationship with the divine, in Buddhism the emphasis is for a more personal, a more intimate understanding of oneself.

The Canon

The Buddha's teachings were memorized and passed down orally for four centuries before they were first written down on talipot palm leaves (ola leaves) in Sri Lanka around 80 BCE.

There tends to be a bias in the modern world towards oral traditions. Yet, two groups of monks from the Ganges Valley memorized the Teachings. One group migrated south to Sri Lanka and the other to the northern areas of India. Today, we find an extraordinary degree of agreement between these two, now written, collections. They obviously came from the same original material. 

Low Self-Esteem Magnifies the Power of What Assails One

When they find a dying serpent,
Even crows behave like soaring eagles.
Therefore if I'm weak and feeble-hearted,
Even little faults will strike and injure me.

                                 ~Shantideva, in The Path of the Bodhisattva

The Sangha

Navajo Flowers

Understanding the Teachings and the Practice, the Realities, of Buddhism is the work of a community, the Sangha, over time. This is not a task for one mind, however brilliant, working in isolation.

The Buddha, the Teacher.

The Dharma, the Teaching.

The Sangha, the Community of Students.


But all my foes will cease to be,
And all my friends will cease to be,
And I will also cease to be,
And likewise everything will cease to be.

All that I possess and use
Is like the fleeting vision of a dream.
It fades into the realms of memory,
And fading, will be seen no more.

                                   ~Shantideva, in The Way of the Bodhisattva

Monday, March 27, 2017


It should be borne in mind that there is nothing more difficult to arrange, more doubtful of success, and more dangerous to carry through than initiating change.

The innovator makes enemies of all those who prospered under the old order, and only lukewarm support is forthcoming from those who would prosper under the new.

~Niccolo Machiavelli, in The Prince

To Kaccanagotta

The Teacher was living at Savatthi. Then the good Kaccanagotta approached him, greeted him, sat down to one side, and said: "You say 'complete vision,' sir. In what respects is vision complete?"

"By and large, Kaccana, this world relies on the duality of 'it is' and 'it is not.' But one who sees the arising of the world as it happens with complete understanding has no sense of 'it is not' about the world. And one who sees the ceasing of the world as it happens with complete understanding has no sense of 'it is' about the world.

"By and large, this world is bound to its prejudices and habits. But such a one does not get caught up in the habits, fixations, prejudices, or biases of the mind. He is not fixated on 'my self.' He does not doubt that when something is occurring, it is occurring, and when it has come to an end, it has come to an end. His knowledge is independent of others'.

"In these respects his vision is complete.

" 'Everything is' is one dead end. 'Everything is not' is the other dead end. The tathagata reveals the dharma from a middle that avoids both dead ends."

~Samyutta Nikaya


The destiny of a nation is too important to leave to politicians alone.

~Thich Nhat Hanh

Yeshua and Krishna

Peace Walk

There is no walk for peace; peace must be the walk.

~Thich Nhat Hanh


Food can be delicious without using the flesh of animals.

~Thich Nhat Hanh

Think Good Thoughts

Words become actions,

Actions become habits.

Habits become character.

Character become destiny.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Warrior's Creed

I have no parents: I make the heavens and earth my parents.
I have no home: I make awareness my home.
I have no life or death: I make the tides of breathing my life and death.
I have no divine power: I make honesty my divine power.
I have no means: I make understanding my means.
I have no magic secrets: I make character my magic secret.
I have no body: I make endurance my body.
I have no eyes: I make the flash of lightning my eyes.
I have no ears: I make sensibility my ears.
I have no limbs: I make promptness my limbs.
I have no strategy: I make "unshadowed by thought" my strategy.
I have no designs: I make "seizing opportunity by the forelock" my design.
I have no miracles: I make right-action my miracles.
I have no principles: I make adaptability to all circumstances my principles.
I have no tactics: I make emptiness and fullness my tactics.
I have no talents: I make ready wit my talent.
I have no friends: I make my mind my friend.
I have no enemy: I make carelessness my enemy.
I have no armor: I make benevolence and righteousness my armor.
I have no castle: I make immovable-mind my castle.
I have no sword: I make absence of self my sword.

                                                                             ~Anonymous Samurai, fourteenth century

Saturday, March 25, 2017


Remember, you cannot abandon what you do not know. To go beyond yourself, you must know yourself.

~Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj


The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.

~Marcel Proust