ANY ENCOUNTER OFFERS US A CHOICE
This is an idea that seems difficult for Westerners to accept: when someone harms us, they create the cause of their own suffering. They do this by strengthening habits that imprison them in a cycle of pain and confusion. It’s not that we are responsible for what someone else does, and certainly not that we should feel guilty. But when they harm us, we unintentionally become the means of their undoing. Had they looked on us with loving-kindness, however, we’d be the cause of their gathering virtue.
What I find helpful in this teaching is that what’s true for them is also true for me. The way I regard those who hurt me today will affect how I experience the world in the future. In any encounter, we have a choice: we can strengthen our resentment or our understanding and empathy. We can widen the gap between ourselves and others or lessen it.
~ No Time to Lose: A Timely Guide to the Way of the Bodhisattva by Pema Chödrön, page 185
Trying to find a Buddha or enlightenment is like trying to grab space. Space has a name but no form. It's not something you can pick up or put down. And you certainly can't grab it. Beyond this mind you'll never see a Buddha. The Buddha is a product of your mind. Why look for a Buddha beyond this mind?~ The Zen teachings of Bodhidharma
The Buddha described what we call "self" as a collection of aggregates – elements of mind and body – that function interdependently, creating the appearance of woman or man. We then identify with that image or appearance, taking it to be "I" or "mine," imagining it to have some inherent self-existence. For example, we get up in the morning, look in the mirror, recognize the reflection, and think, "Yes, that's me again." We then add all kinds of concepts to this sense of self: I'm a woman or man, I'm a certain age, I'm a happy or unhappy person – the list goes on and on.~ Joseph Goldstein, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Vol. VI, #3
When we examine our experience, though, we see that there is not some core being to whom experience refers; rather it is simply "empty phenomena rolling on." It is "empty" in the sense that there is no one behind the arising and changing phenomena to whom they happen. A rainbow is a good example of this. We go outside after a rainstorm and feel that moment of delight if a rainbow appears in the sky. Mostly, we simply enjoy the sight without investigating the real nature of what is happening. But when we look more deeply, it becomes clear that there is no "thing" called "rainbow" apart from the particular conditions of air and moisture and light.
Each one of us is like that rainbow - an appearance, a magical display, arising out of our various elements of mind and body.
When we find ourselves spinning off into thoughts that are further and further from the reality that generated them, we need to become aware and notice what sparks our indulgent thinking. Our observation may not arrest the stream of concerns immediately, and they may continue to be a nuisance. But through observation we can begin to find the inner intelligence and clear comprehension that doesn’t believe in all that compulsive speculation. Through learning to observe in this way, we can save ourselves much confusion in life.~ Christopher Titmuss: An Awakened Life
When you take photographs, just before you click the shutter, your mind is empty and open, just seeing without words. When you stand in front of a blank sheet of paper, about to make a painting or a calligraphy, you have no idea what you will do. Maybe you have some plan for a painting, or you know what symbol you want to calligraph, but you don't actually know what will appear when you put brush to paper. What you do out of trust in open mind will be fresh and spontaneous. Opening to first thought is the way to begin any action properly.~ Jeremy Hayward, from Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Vol. IV, #3
Have confidence in your own spiritual potentiality, your ability to find your own unique way. Learn from others certainly and use what you find useful, but also learn to trust your own inner wisdom. Have courage. Be awake and aware. Remember too that Buddhism is not about being a Buddhist; that is, obtaining a new identity tag. Nor is it about collecting head-knowledge, practices and techniques. It is ultimately about letting go of all forms and concepts and becoming free.~ John Snelling, Elements of Buddhism
I've been reading Michael's blog, listening to his podcasts and reading his charming books for a number of years. Michael, who has M.E., as do I, is so good at maintaining a life of creativity around his limited energy. Today he writes:
Last week was a busy week.
As well as running the Get The One Thing a Day Habit course for the first time I was working hard on getting some sample pages ready for the book I’m working on for Perigee Books.
I thought I’d planned things well, leaving myself plenty of time for rest and recuperation, but problems with my home Internet connection meant that I had to go to town everyday to upload material for the course and the book and do all the other things that I rely on having a connection to the web for (most of what I do!).
At the beginning of the week I really enjoyed my trips to town. I was forced to focus, carefully planning and fitting everything I needed to do into the couple of hours I was in town for. Making (I thought) the very best use of my time.