Because you think you are the body,
For a long time you have been bound.
Know you are pure awareness.
With this knowledge as your sword
Cut through your chains.
And be happy!
For you are already free,
Without action or flaw,
Luminous and bright.
Art by Thomas Cole
Fear is always in relation to something; it does not exist by itself. There is fear of what happened yesterday in relation to the possibility of its repetition tomorrow; there is always a fixed point from which relationship takes place.
How does fear come into this? I had pain yesterday; there is the memory of it and I do not want it again tomorrow. Thinking about the pain of yesterday, thinking which involves the memory of yesterday’s pain, projects the fear of having pain again tomorrow. So it is thought that brings about fear. Thought breeds fear; thought also cultivates pleasure. To understand fear you must also understand pleasure – they are interrelated; without understanding one you cannot understand the other. This means that one cannot say ‘I must only have pleasure and no fear’; fear is the other side of the coin which is called pleasure.
People are often illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, some people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build it anyway.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you will often get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.
Kent M. Keith
Anybody can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody's power and is not easy.
What is called mind is a wondrous power existing in Self. It projects all thoughts. If we set aside all thoughts and see, there will be no such thing as mind remaining separate; therefore, thought itself is the form of the mind. Other than thoughts, there is no such thing as the mind.
Enlightenment for Gautama Buddha felt as though a prison which had confined him for thousands of lifetimes had broken open. Ignorance had been the jailkeeper. Because of ignorance, his mind had been obscured, just like the moon and stars hidden by the storm clouds. Clouded by endless waves of deluded thoughts, the mind had falsely divided reality into subject and object, self and others, existence and non-existence, birth and death, and from these discriminations arose wrong views — the prisons of feelings, craving, grasping, and becoming. The suffering of birth, old age, sickness, and death only made the prison walls thicker. The only thing to do was to seize the jailkeeper and see his true face. The jailkeeper was ignorance. . . . Once the jailkeeper was gone, the jail would disappear and never be rebuilt again.
Thich Nhat Hanh
Art by Ang Tshering Sherpa
All Buddhist practices are methods of transformation. When applied correctly, these can transform an ignorant person into a possessor of wisdom. The word transformation, as it is used here, signifies a change within an individual being that is a revolutionary change, but one that does not change that being’s essential nature. It brings out the essential nature. Buddhist practice is a process of transformation through purification that brings out the best of what is already there. It does not make people into what they are not, nor import any new material. It allows your ultimate identity as an enlightened being to emerge as you overcome the relative delusions and defilements that mask your buddha nature. It is transformation into your ultimate self.
Tai Situ Rinpoche
May I be a guard for all those who are protector-less,
A guide for those who journey on the road,
For those who wish to go across the water,
May I be a boat, a raft, a bridge.
For all those ailing in the world,
Until their every sickness has been healed,
May I myself become for them
The doctor, nurse, the medicine itself.
Buddhisattva Vow by Shantideva.
Art by Sudhir Khastgir
When we talk about ignorance, we must know that, to a large extent, it is something that is natural and innate within us and sometimes this naturally flawed way of viewing life can be reinforced by philosophical speculation. So when the Buddhist teaching of anatman (no-self) is taught often it can create a sense of unease within us. Because the grasping for self-existence is so deeply rooted in us, reflection on the fundamental Buddhist teaching of anatman can create some discomfort. Especially for those in whom this inherent self-grasping is further reinforced by metaphysical speculation – for them the sense of discomfort or unease can be even greater.
I can tell you a story about an Indian from Behar, who later became a Buddhist and part of the monastic order. One day I was teaching to him the doctrine of anatman, no-self, and when I mentioned to him that Buddhism rejects the concept of a soul, the person was literally shaking. So this shows how a genuine reflection on this most basic Buddhist teaching of no-self can go against the deeply embedded ways of viewing the world that we posses.
This is what is meant by verse 26 of the Precious Garland, where it reads, “the teaching of selflessness terrifies the childish. For the wise, it puts an end to fear.”
For the wise, the teaching of selflessness really shows that there is an opening to getting out of this condition of being in an unenlightened state of existence.
In verse 27, it reads:
“All ‘beings’ arise from fixation of self
Such that they thereby are fixated on ‘mine’;
This is what has been stated
By the one who speaks solely for the sake of beings.”
Given that it is this grasping at the concept of self-existence which gives rise to the unenlightened forms of existence, the Buddha has taught, out of compassion for all sentient beings, the path which would liberate all out of the bondage. The path here refers to the path of no-self.
14th Dalai Lama
How do we investigate the nature of mind and the root of samsaric delusion? The very root of delusion is the thought of ‘I’, the habit of clinging to the notion of ‘self’. This notion is simply due to a failure to investigate. There is no such thing as a truly existing, autonomous self. We fabricate this concept in the same way that we make up all our other thoughts. Then, after constructing this self over and over again, we get so used to our invention that it seems to really exist as a distinct entity. Once this thought has deeply taken root, we demand that the self should be happy and comfortable, enjoying wealth and pleasures. If it could be the center of the universe, that would be the best. This attitude is the very basis of our suffering, causing us to wander around and around in samsara.
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
The everyday practice is simply to develop a complete carefree acceptance, an openness to all situations without limit.
We should realise openness as the playground of our emotions and relate to people without artificiality, manipulation or strategy.
We should experience everything totally, never withdrawing into ourselves as a marmot hides in its hole. This practice releases
tremendous energy which is usually constricted by the process of maintaining fixed reference points. Referentiality is the process by
which we retreat from the direct experience of everyday life.
Being present in the moment may initially trigger fear. But by welcoming the sensation of fear with complete openness, we cut through the barriers created by habitual emotional patterns.
When we engage in the practice of discovering space, we should develop the feeling of opening ourselves out completely to the entire universe. We should open ourselves with absolute simplicity and nakedness of mind. This is the powerful and ordinary practice of dropping the mask of self-protection.
Vast unoriginated self-luminous wisdom space is the ground of being – the beginning and the end of confusion. The presence of awareness in the primordial state has no bias toward enlightenment or non-enlightenment.
This ground of being which is known as pure or original mind is the source from which all phenomena arise. It is known as the great mother, as the womb of potentiality in which all things arise and dissolve in natural self-perfectedness and absolute spontaneity.
All aspects of phenomena are completely clear and lucid. The whole universe is open and unobstructed – everything is mutually interpenetrating.
Seeing all things as naked, clear and free from obscurations, there is nothing to attain or realize.
The nature of phenomena appears naturally and is naturally present in time-transcending awareness.
Everything is naturally perfect just as it is.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
Enlightenment, or Nirvana, is nothing other than the state beyond all obstacles, in the same way that from the peak of a very high mountain one always sees the sun. Nirvana is not a paradise or some special place of happiness, but is in fact the condition beyond all dualistic concepts, including those of happiness and suffering.
When all our obstacles have been overcome, and we find ourselves in a state of total presence, the wisdom of enlightenment manifests spontaneously without limits, just like the infinite rays of the sun. The clouds have dissolved, and the sun is finally free to shine once again.
If with closed ears and eyes I consult consciousness for a moment, immediately are all walls and barriers dissipated, earth rolls from under me, and I float . . . in the midst of an unknown and infinite sea, or else heave and swell like a vast ocean of thought, without rock or headland, where are all riddles solved, all straight lines making there their two ends to meet, eternity and space gambolling familiarly through my depths. I am from the beginning, knowing no end, no aim. No sun illumines me, for I dissolve all lesser lights in my own intenser and steadier light. I am a restful kernel in the magazine of the universe. . . .
Men are constantly dinging in my ears their fair theories and plausible solutions of the universe, but ever there is no help, and I return again to my shoreless, islandless ocean.
Henry David Thoreau