Start where you are

“Tonglen practice (and all meditation practice) is not about later, when you get it all together and you’re this person you really respect. You may be the most violent person in the world—that’s a fine place to start. That’s a very rich place to start—juicy, smelly. You might be the most depressed person in the... Continue Reading →

Wholehearted determination

“Strong determination is our commitment to use our lives to dissolve the indifference, aggression, and grasping that separate us from one another. It is a commitment to respect whatever life brings. As warriors-in-training we develop wholehearted determination to use discomfort as an opportunity for awakening, rather than trying to make it disappear. How do we... Continue Reading →

Don’t take suffering personally

“I feel gratitude to the Buddha for pointing out that what we struggle against all our lives can be acknowledged as ordinary experience. Life does continually go up and down. People and situations are unpredictable and so is everything else. Everybody knows the pain of getting what we don’t want: saints, sinners, winners, losers. I... Continue Reading →

Fear is the cheapest room in the house

Like pain, fear is the other common predecessor to anger and hate—fear of loss, of hurt, of embarrassment, of shame, of weakness, of not knowing. When fear arises, anger and aversion function as strategies to help us feel safe, to declare our strength and security. In fact, we actually feel insecure and vulnerable, but we... Continue Reading →

The way of false heroism

This is not to say that the point of the hard way is that we must be heroic. The attitude of "heroism" is based upon the assumption that we are bad, impure, that we are not worthy, are not ready for spiritual understanding. We must reform ourselves, be different from what we are. For instance,... Continue Reading →

Suffering is part of life

“The first noble truth of the Buddha is that when we feel suffering, it doesn’t mean that something is wrong. What a relief. Finally somebody told the truth. Suffering is part of life, and we don’t have to feel it’s happening because we personally made the wrong move.” ― Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart:... Continue Reading →

Heart Advice for Difficult Times

“This instruction applies to working with unpleasantness in its myriad guises. Whatever or whoever arises, train again and again in looking at it and seeing it for what it is without calling it names, without hurling rocks, without averting your eyes. Let all those stories go. The innermost essence of mind is without bias. Things... Continue Reading →

Awakening Loving Kindness

“The innocent mistake that keeps us caught in our own particular style of ignorance, unkindness, and shut-downness is that we are never encouraged to see clearly what is, with gentleness. Instead, there’s a kind of basic misunderstanding that we should try to be better than we already are, that we should try to improve ourselves,... Continue Reading →

The essential practice

“Loving-Kindness: The Essential Practice FOR AN ASPIRING BODHISATTVA, the essential practice is to cultivate maitri, or loving-kindness. The Shambhala teachings speak of “placing our fearful mind in the cradle of loving-kindness.” Another image for maitri is that of a mother bird who protects and cares for her young until they are strong enough to fly... Continue Reading →

Just drop the story line

“In postmeditation, when the poisons of passion, aggression, or ignorance arise, the instruction is to drop the story line. Instead of acting out or repressing, we use the poison as an opportunity to feel our heart, to feel the wound, and to connect with others who suffer in the same way. We can use the... Continue Reading →

Fundamental security

"Fundamental security comes from realizing that you have broken through something. You reflect back and realize that you used to be extraordinarily paranoid and neurotic, watching each step you made, thinking you might lose your sanity, that situations were always threatening in some way. Now you are free of all those fears and preconceptions. You... Continue Reading →

Meditation is providing space

In Buddhism, we express our willingness to be realistic through the practice of meditation. Meditation is not a matter of trying to achieve ecstasy, spiritual bliss, or tranquillity, nor is it attempting to become a better person. It is simply the creation of a space in which we are able to expose and undo our... Continue Reading →

Buddha nature

Buddha nature is not regarded as a peaceful state of mind or, for that matter, as a disturbed one either. It is a state of intelligence that questions our life and the meaning of life. It is the foundation of a search. A lot of things haven’t been answered in our life – and we... Continue Reading →

The essence of bravery

“The essence of bravery is being without self-deception. However, it’s not so easy to take a straight look at what we do. Seeing ourselves clearly is initially uncomfortable and embarrassing. As we train in clarity and steadfastness, we see things we’d prefer to deny—judgmentalness, pettiness, arrogance. These are not sins but temporary and workable habits... Continue Reading →

Distinction between pain and suffering

Dukkha is different from pain. Buddhist thought makes a distinction between pain and suffering. Pain is part of our human experience. For example, getting sick is painful, as is grief at the loss of a loved one; this is natural and appropriate. However, we then tend to generate a whole extra layer of suffering, through... Continue Reading →

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