Thursday, February 19, 2015

THE SIX PERFECTIONS


A true practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism wants to Become enlightened like the Shakyamuni Buddha for the sake of all living beings. Tibetan Buddhism is a part of the Mahayana tradition and according to this tradition there are six practices to be cultivated in order to be able to reach
enlightenment. 

These practices are known as the six (transcendent) perfections, or the six paramitas. Some Buddhist teachings mention ten perfections in stead of six. 

The six perfections are: 

1. Generosity
2. Ethical discipline
3. Patience
4. Joyous effort
5. Concentration
6. Wisdom

The Six Perfections must be cultivated in order to become enlightened. Enlightenment is to become a buddha, an exalted being that has cut off the roots of ignorance and been released from cyclic existence. 

By practicing the first four perfections one generates discipline and harmony in physical and
verbal actions. According to the law of karma positive actions are necessary means in order to cultivate the fifth perfection, concentration, and harmony and stability in the mind. The practice of the first five perfections is to use skillful means and accumulate merit. Without wisdom, the sixth perfection, one will not be able to develop a buddha's exalted understanding of reality
and therefore enlightenment is impossible. 

The fourth, enthusiastic effort, is the indispensable support of all perfections. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Maha-Mangala Sutta: Blessings

The Buddha was living near Savatthi at Jetavana at Anathapindika's monastery and a very spiritual person said to him "Many deities and men longing for happiness have pondered on (the question of) blessings. Pray tell me what the highest blessings are.” This was the Buddha’s response: 

Non-association with fools, And association with wise men, Honor of respectworthy persons, This is the highest blessing.

Living in a civilized land, Having done good in the past, To set oneself in the right course, This is the highest blessing.

Great learning and skill at work, And well-practiced moral observances, Words which are well spoken, This is the highest blessing.

Taking care of father and mother, Caring for wife and children, And acting without confusion, This is the highest blessing.

Liberality and righteous conduct, The protection of relatives, Faultless actions, This is the highest blessing.

Complete abstention from evil, And abstention from drinking, And diligence in performing righteous acts , This is the highest blessing.

Reverence and humility, Contentment and gratitude, Timely hearing of the Dharma (the teachings of the Buddha) at the proper time, This is the highest blessing.

Patience and gentleness, Meeting with holy people, Discussion of Dharma at the right time, This is the highest blessing.

A mind unshaken by the worldly winds, sorrowless, pure, and full of peace, This is the highest blessing.

Those who act in this way Are undefeated in all circumstance And attain happiness everywhere, These are the highest blessings.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Cherishing Others, by the Dalai Lama

The Bodhisattvacaryavatara bases its instruction on meditation on the bodhicitta, the altruistic exploration, in Nagarjuna’s text called Precious Garland (Ratnamala). And the techniques for cultivating that are explained in what is called ‘exchanging’ and the ‘equality of oneself and others’.

Equalizing oneself and others means developing the attitude and understanding that: ‘Just as I desire happiness and wish to avoid suffering, so do all living beings, beings as infinite as space; they also desire happiness and wish to avoid suffering.’

Shantideva reasons that we don’t discriminate between different parts of our body — hands, legs, head and so on — as far as protecting them is concerned. All of them equally are parts of our body. In that same manner, looking at it from that point of view, there is no difference whatsoever between all living beings. And one should not discriminate between ‘self and ‘others’ when working for attaining happiness and avoiding suffering.

One should reflect and try to find out the difference between ‘self and ‘others’. By so doing, one will find that as far as the wish to attain happiness and avoid suffering is concerned, there really is no difference whatsoever.

We have a natural right to be happy and to avoid suffering, and the same is true for all living beings — they also have the same natural right. But in one respect there is a difference between ourselves and others What is it? The difference lies in the quantity. The welfare of oneself is the welfare of a single person, a single living being, whereas the welfare of others is that of an infinite number of beings. From that point of view, we can see that the welfare of others is more important than one’s own.

The self is always related to others on the ordinary level, on the path, and at the resultant state. Reflecting along these lines, brings the under­standing of how important it is to work for the benefit of other beings. If one remains selfish and self-centred always, and is able to achieve the happiness that one seeks, then it would be understandable to work solely for oneself, but this does not happen. We are such that we have to depend on the co-operation and kindness of others for our survival.

It is also a fact — something that we can observe — that the more we take the welfare of others to heart and work for their benefit, the more benefit we derive for our­selves. This is a fact that we can see. And the more selfish we remain and self-centred, the more selfish our way of life is, the lonelier we feel and the more miserable. This is also a fact that we can see.

If one definitely wants to work for one’s own benefit and welfare, therefore, it is better to regard the welfare of others to be more important than one’s own, which is just what the Bodhisattvacaryavatara recommends.

If you contemplate along these lines, you will increase the force of the thought that cherishes others more and more

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Ten Non Virtuous Actions by Tina Williamson

There is a certain universal moral compass that guides us all and regardless of your religious beliefs these moral guidelines are very similar across humanity.
The problem is that we do not always follow our compass.  Atrocities big and small are committed every day across the world.

Engaging in negative actions will never produce positive results; if you harm someone you cannot expect that good karma will float your way.

It’s a lot like planting a tomato seed; you shouldn’t expect to get an orange tree.
We all know that good intentions and virtuous actions will plant seeds for future happiness.  We also know that negative intentions with unwholesome motivations plant seeds of future suffering.

These seeds sometimes aren’t apparent right away; these karmic seeds can lie dormant for a long time, until the right conditions ripen, and then they produce their effect.

It’s kind of interesting to think that you are in the driver’s seat of your future.  You can make a difference right now in your future life.

We all want to avoid suffering, but the problem is that we don’t know how. 

Avoiding suffering and finding inner peace are key components of Buddhist teachings. 
In order to reduce future suffering we avoid the 10 non virtuous actions towards others and by doing so we ripen future seeds of kindness and happiness.

You don’t need to be a Buddhist to learn and practice the non virtuous actions anymore than you don’t need to a Christian to follow the 10 commandments.  They are simply a guideline for living peacefully, kindly, happily and purely.

It might all sound technical – virtuous actions, but don’t let that scare you, it is simply a label on a concept, guidelines of moral intentions to follow.  Let go of the label, the feelings of good or bad associated with the label and just try to see the positive effects this could have on your life.

When you commit to following this path it doesn’t mean that you are perfect, it doesn’t mean you will never flower a bad karmic seed, it simply means that you try.

Try.

Put a conscious effort into being a better person; a better person right now, a better person for your future self and for everyone around you near and far.

Infuse your day with effort.  Put effort and power in where you would have otherwise had none.  Try.

Practice your virtue widely.  Turn non virtuous actions around and naturally you will make 10 virtuous actions ripen.
Remember you don’t need to practice all the vows at once.  Practice one at a time until you develop new lifestyle habits.

10 Non Virtuous Actions.

Bodily actions:   Killing, stealing, sexual misconduct
Verbal actions:  Lying, slander (divisive speech), harsh speech (hurtful words), and gossip (idle chatter)
Mental actions:   Covetousness (greed), harmful intent (hatred), and holding wrong views (ignorance)

Non-virtuous Actions of the Body

1. Killing – This is the first non-virtuous action.  No killing of any sentient beings.  Sentient beings are any beings that have a mind.  Sentient = capable of feeling and perception.
2. Stealing – Do not steal anything of value to someone else: This includes shady business deals, cheating on rent, taxes, or bills, underpaying what is due to local government or society, stealing from work.  Do not take what is not given to you.
3. Sexual misconduct – It mainly means adultery – cheating on your partner, a person to whom you are exclusively committed.
We need to learn to think before we act.

Non-virtuous Actions of Speech

4. Lying - Giving someone else a wrong impression about what you have seen, believe, or know; unless it would save someone’s life or prevent real suffering.
5. Slander – Saying things that will divide people.  Bad mouthing someone.  Instead try to bring people together in harmony.
6. Senseless chatter or Idle Talk – Meaningless chatter, criticism, disputes, useless joking, whining, complaining.  Gossip about people, sports or politics.  Try to reduce your senseless chatter and make more room in your life for peace and deep meaningful conversations.
7. Hurtful Speech – Having bad intent; it includes sarcastic “nice” words and swearing.  So don’t say something hurtful to someone’s face, like you are an idiot. The opposite of hurtful speech will instill peace or good feeling into people. Honest and kind speech leads to closeness among people.

Non-virtues – Actions of the Mind

8. Covetousness – This is similar to coveting in the Ten Commandments. Wanting others’ possessions and personal qualities like their intelligence, health, fame, youth, or spiritual achievements. It comes in five stages: you are attached to your own possessions, desire to accumulate more than you have, discover another’s possessions, like to make them your own, and the desire becomes unmanageable and you “lose shame” (then you act).

The opposite of this is being happy with what you have. Obsessing about what you don’t have leads to unhappiness, you will become over consumed with desire and will never have enough.

9. Vindictiveness – To wish bad things or harm others; being pleased when others fail or have misfortune; like “Oh, how did they mess up? Tell me more…” not feeling as bad for an unfortunate person as you would feel for yourself if you were them.
10. Holding wrong views – Wrong View – “Incorrect world view” means not regarding karma as being the direct cause of our experience. This leads to doing misdeeds #1-9.

Every action has four stages: the first is to recognize the other person, secondly you think about how you want to act towards that person; then you take action, you have already chosen whether you will act poorly or positively, and the fourth action is that the person has been harmed or benefited in some way.

The first is recognition, second is consideration of the action, third  to make it happen, fourth is the result.

The main causes of unhappiness are these ten non virtuous actions, and the corrections for these are to do the opposite. It is very important to think about these things and move your behavior away from the non-virtue and toward the corresponding virtue. In this way we are able to conquer our own minds and establish peace.

Mindfulness is receiving a lot of attention lately, and mindfulness is at the heart of Buddhist teachings.  In general we are becoming more mindful every day and learning that great wealth and expensive cars do not lead to happiness.  We need to work with our minds, it is our most important computer.  It’s important to infuse our minds with kind, honest intentions.

Within Buddhist teachings, this is the path of actions. It is the heart and essence of the Buddha’s teaching.


Practice one or two of the virtues, make a commitment to stop gossiping or to stop manipulating people.  Or if you’re feeling inspired practice all ten, but making any effort no matter how small will have a great impact on your life and those around you.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Noble Eightfold Path as Interpreted by Ch'onsa Kim

This is one of the best interpretations of the Noble Eightfold Path I have ever read. It is simple and to the point. Quite wonderful!

The Eight Fold Path

Buddhism does not aim to explain God, creation or eternal concepts. Such truths can only be found within the heart of a person. Whatever one holds within the heart is what is. What Buddhism does aim to do is help us overcome the chaos of this world and point us to a path that leads us to our own spirituality. We are all searching for the same things- freedom from our pain and realizing who we truly are, deep within. The Buddha Siddharthe Guatama, in his contemplation, realized the truth about suffering and the path to liberation from it. This Eight-Fold Path and Four Noble Truths make up the foundation of Buddhism.

Right View

The Four Noble Truths:
1. The truth about suffering is that it exists. Life is suffering. Birth, aging and dying is suffering.

2. Our reaching into the world of dreams, our desire to fulfill what cannot be fulfilled is what brings us our suffering.

3. Only when we have broken the mirrors of illusion can we end our suffering, and

4. the Eight-Fold Path can help us to break our habits of suffering.
When we are able to recognize suffering as it enters our lives, see that our own desires have brought us this pain, and understand that letting go of this desire can bring us peace we have attained Right View.

Right Thought

Reality grows in the garden of the mind. Our world is the fruit of our thoughts that sprout from the seeds of ideas. We must therefore be discerning gardeners, looking carefully at what ideas we allow to take root within the mind. We must be able to recognize which ideas and thoughts are born of desire and which carry the seeds of desire that causes our suffering.
The seeds of suffering that take root within the mind are those of greed, ill-will, hostility, denigration, dominance, envy, jealousy, hypocrisy, fraud, obstinacy, presumption, conceit, arrogance, vanity and negligence. In Buddhism, these are known as the 15 defilements, and the Buddha realized 6 methods for removing such defilements from the mind:

1. Restraining:
Restrain from what pleases the senses but bears poison.

2. Using:
Use all that we are, all that we have, all there is to cultivate peace.

3. Tolerating:
Tolerate all adversity, and never abandon our gardens to the wild.

4. Avoiding:
Avoid all that is impure and spoils the soil of the mind. Tend only to what is pure and that which nurtures the pure.

5. Destroying:
Remove the defilements by destroying them from the root.

6. Developing:
Never cease to develop our skills of peacefulness.

Right Speech

We are often judged by our words. Long after we leave this world, our words shall remain. Words can often be sharper than the blade of the sword, bringing harm to the spirit of a person which can cause wounds that are deeper and last longer than that of a dagger. Therefore, we must choose our words carefully. The Buddha realized 4 methods of speech that bring peace to our lives and the lives of those who surround us.

1. Words of Honesty:

Speaking without truth can be a means to our end and to the end of others. Therefore, honesty is always the best policy.

2. Words of Kindness:

Speaking words of kindness, we will never be the cause that divides hearts or puts brother against brother. We become peacemakers. Our words are cherished and valued and shall bring peacefulness to ourselves and to those surrounding us.

3. Words that are Nurturing:

Words that comfort rather than harm the heart, shall travel to the heart, and bring long lasting peace.

4. Words that are Worthy:

Speaking only what is worthy and valuable for the moment, our words will always be found sweet to the ears of others and shall always be considered in a peaceful manner. Words of gossip, untruth, and selfishness do not return to us with peace. The worth of our words is measured by how much they improve the silence.

Right Action

All of our lives we have been instructed to do the right thing. Often we are perplexed with what is the right thing. Ultimately, we must decide for ourselves what is right- but often our judgment is clouded by the defilements of the mind. While upon the Eight-Fold path, we must remember that our aim is to end our suffering. All we do, comes back to us in one way or another, eventually. What may be the right thing for the moment may not be the right thing for the next. Although this moment is the only one that exists, we must not fail to realize that within this moment- the past, present and future are contained. The truly right does not change from moment to moment. Look deep within your own heart, and you will know what is right.

The Golden Rule in Buddhism is: Do no harm.

The Buddha practiced the following code of conduct in his own life:

1. Respect life
2. Earn all that you have
3. Control your desire, rather than allow desire to control you.

Right Livelihood

Often when one begins practicing the ways of Peace, a time comes when lifestyle must be evaluated. In this life, we have the opportunity to liberate ourselves from the cycle of suffering and find peace. We also have the opportunity to help others break free. Does one's way of life support or hinder the ways of Peace? Only the heart knows.

Right Effort

The path is not an easy one. Our habits of suffering are strong, and deeply imprinted in our way of life. It is difficult to maneuver peacefully in a world of chaos. Many of the things that we know we must let go of are things that we have held dearly for we have fought fiercely to obtain them. Our very own self- identity may have been formed with great personal sacrifice. Discipline and diligence is key to persevering on the path. Therefore, our decision to take up the path to liberation must be firm, and executed with right effort. When we have realized the truth of suffering, and are willing to seek liberation with the same tenacity as a drowning man struggles for a breath, then right effort has been attained.

Right Mindfulness

Being mindful of the heart of matters can help us to overcome suffering with understanding. When sitting, laying or moving, being mindful of the following four frames of references are said by the Buddha to help us achieve great understanding, and can even help us unlock the secrets that are within our hearts.

1. The Body:

Paying attention to our physical being can help us direct the mind away from the distractions of the world. Focusing on our breath, our movements, our actions, our components, and on the sheer miracle of our physical existence we can arrive at calmness and clarity.

2. Feelings:

Paying attention to our external and internal feelings, observing their rise and fall, can help us realize their origination, development and decline. Understanding the nature of our feelings can help us let go and break our habits of clinging.

3. Mind:

Turning the mind upon itself, observing our thoughts, can help us realize the origination and aim of our thoughts. With this understanding, we can understand the nature of the mind and overcome our thought habits of suffering.

4. Mental Qualities:

Paying attention to our mental state of mind can help us recognize the five hindrances of our mentality (sensual desire, ill-will, laziness, anxiety and doubt). Observing their origination, development and decline, can help us realize how we can overcome them. By observing the origination, the components, the development, and the decline of things in regard to these frames of reference, we can find a deep understanding in the nature of ourselves, and to know our own hearts is to know the hearts of others.

Right Concentration

As we sail through life, the winds of desire push us toward the Ocean of Suffering. But the skillful stand firm in virtue at the helm, directing the rudder of the mind toward peace. Single-minded concentration on the path to Peace (the Eight-Fold path) is right concentration. It is picking yourself up when you stumble and continuing onward. It is recognizing why you have fallen astray. It is recognizing when you are about to fall. It is continuing upon the path without hesitation or doubt. It is never ceasing to develop our skill in the way.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Notes to Myself (or Things to Do Before Watching TV)

Notes to Myself: 

1) Think before you speak. Sometimes what you deem is “profound” may actually hurt the other person.

2) Look at your motives ….for everything.

3) When you do something that you feel is “bad” try to remember you are not as horrible as you think you are.

4) When you lean in to tell someone a secret make sure it isn’t gossip or something you do not know to be 100% true.

5) I know it’s hard, but when you’re in an argument envision the other person as Jesus or Buddha or someone you love deeply…I guarantee you’ll act differently.

6) Just because you gave up a specific habit doesn’t mean others that still do it should stop too.

7) Try not to force people to walk in your shoes. Your beautiful path may be another’s treacherous road.

8) If you feel forgiven for past transgressions remember that others may not have forgiven you. You may still have amends to make.

9) Get off your butt and go against what you’ve always done. There’s a whole world out there that can help you solve your problems!

10) Give, give, give….and don’t keep score.