The ground of being ~ Alan Wallace

How can one know whether it is possible through practice to transcend the sense of duality, to transcend language, to transcend experience mediated by concepts? The only way to know is to do it, and that is the challenge. The Buddha declared it is possible. You are not locked into your own personal history, your own conceptual and cultural framework. You have your own personal history but it’s not the whole story. There is also a transcendent element to your being that can be accessed experimentally, and it goes beyond all concepts. The experience is frequently described as pure awareness, but it’s not awareness as part of a duality, such as mind and matter. It does not fit into the Cartesian game plan. If you access that experience by delving into the nature of awareness, then, coming out of it, you might describe it as unborn, spontaneous, nondual, uncontrived, unfabricated awareness. Moreover, when people come out of this experience, they tend to speak of the entire world, with all of its myriad diversity, arising from this primordial awareness. Such nonduality is the ground of being.

Alan Wallace

The three higher trainings ~ Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

If we wish to practice the Dharma authentically but we do not have faith, however much we listen, reflect, and meditate, it will not bear fruit. Our practice will be without light, like the world before dawn when there is no sun.

We also need to use the field of pure discipline. To practice the Dharma, it is essential to have the solid foundation of the Pratimoksha, Bodhisattva, and Secret Mantrayana vows. Without these it is impossible to practice the Dharma, just as it is impossible to build a big house without having firm ground to build on.

Once we have this well-prepared field, we can plant in it the seeds of concentration from which experiences and realization will grow. We also have to take care of the field properly, to till the earth, spread manure, and water it; and the sun must shine on the field to warm it.

If all these conditions are brought together properly, then the crop of wisdom will grow without difficulty. And just as a good harvest brings wealth, with these three trainings, the trainings of discipline, concentration, and wisdom, it is certain we will attain liberation.

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Shame ~ Pema Chödron

Shame is a loaded word for Westerners. Like most things, it can be seen in a positive or negative light. Negative shame is accompanied by guilt and self-denigration. It is pointless and doesn’t help us even slightly. Positive shame, on the other hand, is recognizing when we’ve harmed ourselves or anyone else and feeling sorry for having done so. It allows us to grow wiser from our mistakes. Eventually it dawns on us that we can regret causing harm without becoming weighed down by negative shame. Just seeing the hurt and heartbreak clearly motivates us to move on. By acknowledging what we did, cleanly and compassionately, we go forward.

Pema Chödron

The Buddhist concept of karma ~ Thrangu Rinpoche

The third contemplation in Mind Training is on the infallibility of karma, which is cause and effect. The word karma is often understood as a fate that is impossible to change or alter. But that is not the Buddhist concept of karma. The Buddha taught that one can do something about one’s karma. Happiness and suffering are created by karmic actions: they are the results of actions, and the actions are the result of our choice of what we do. We cannot change the results immediately, but we can still change the new causes that we create with our behavior.

Thrangu Rinpoche

Nothing more than the natural function of the mind ~ Mingyur Rinpoche

If I were to become aware of my habitual thoughts, perceptions, and sensations, rather than being carried away by them, their power over me would begin to fade. I would experience their coming and going as nothing more than the natural function of the mind, in the same way that waves naturally ripple across the surface of a lake or ocean.

Mingyur Rinpoche

Just like a dream ~ Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche

The phenomenal world is just like dream. Phenomena appear solid, but they do not exist in the same way as they appear. There is no solid reality behind them; from the very beginning, they are empty of intrinsic existence. There is nothing but a dynamic stream of ever-changing, interdependent relationships.

Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche

Smile and say nothing ~ Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

Having developed trust and belief in your guru, you may well go the extra mile and try to accomplish whatever he asks, as a way of accumulating merit and dismantling your ego and self-clinging. If you have developed a certain level of spiritual maturity, when your guru asks you to do his gardening for him, you will be more than happy to help. Or perhaps your guru will instruct you to go on a pilgrimage.

“Make a pilgrimage to London’s Bond Street every day, then keep the whole concept of ‘Bond Street’ a complete secret. Don’t tell anyone that Bond Street even exists.”

It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? The whole world already knows about Bond Street, but in the context of this custom-made practice, that detail is irrelevant. From now on, you must keep Bond Street a closely guarded secret. As crazy as it sounds, having consciously and soberly chosen to follow the Vajrayana teachings, going to Bond Street every day has now become your path.

If your guru gives you this kind of practice, don’t make an exhibition of it. Unless your guru tells you otherwise, no one needs to see you practise or know when and if you are practising – including your vajra brothers and sisters. Your worldly friends are sure to ask you why, come rain or shine, you walk up and down Bond Street every day, but you must say nothing. No matter how embarrassed you feel, or how often your friends make fun of your obsession or accuse you of having a screw loose, smile and say nothing. By doing so, your practice will accumulate far more merit than if you talked about it.

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

Watch the illusory spectacle ~ Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö

Oh son, watch the illusory spectacle!
All birth and death is projected by delusion, not existing in reality.
I am beyond coming and going.
Let your fixation on distinction embrace the expanse!

Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö

Recognizing pride ~ Thinley Norbu Rinpoche

When pride arises, do not be controlled by it; return to the recognition of the fundamental awareness. Pride can be very gross, as one can see in arrogant people, or it can take a subtle form that is felt inwardly but does not have a strong outward manifestation. It is important to recognize pride at the moment of its arising. When one has recognized it, one should neither follow nor control it, but return to the condition of awareness. Pride will suddenly disappear together with its object — some knowledge or skill with which one identifies — and what will be left will be the wisdom of equanimity.

Thinley Norbu Rinpoche

Crush the eggshell of the mind ~ Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche

Crush the eggshell of the mind and unfold your wings in the open sky. Destroy the hut of duality and inhabit the expansive mansion of pure awareness. There are no other enemies or obstacles to overcome and vanquish. Ignorance – dualistic thinking – is the great demon obstructing your path. Slay it right now and be free!

Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche

Protection ~ Tenzin Palmo

The Dharma itself cannot fail us, because it is how things really are. It won’t fail us because the protection that the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha give is to the mind. How they protect our mind is what is explained in the verses to follow, which are concerned with how to use the adverse circumstances we are likely to meet in samsara and transform them into our opportunities for practice. That’s where the mind is protected, because it can never be crushed. Because we have the methods by which we can always surmount, transcend, and transform the difficulties we meet. This is one way that the Three Jewels are a protection for our own mind.

Tenzin Palmo

Skillful Communication ~ Pema Chödron

Skillful communication is based on discernment. We need discernment to know when it’s time to speak and when it’s not—when it’s time to say firmly, “Stop it, that’s hurtful” or to speak softly and gently. Most of all, we need discernment about ourselves. What triggers or hooks us? How do we reach the point where our discomfort spills out into actions we regret? What calms our agitated mind, instead of pouring kerosene on the fire?

Pema Chödron

The nectar-like truth I have realized ~ Buddha Shakyamuni

Profound, peaceful, stainless, lucid, and unconditioned‍ —
Such is the nectar-like truth I have realized.
Were I to teach it, no one would understand,
So I will silently remain in the forest.

I have discovered the supremely sublime and astonishing absolute,
The ineffable state, untainted by language,
Suchness, the sky-like nature of phenomena,
Completely free of discursive, conceptual movement.

This meaning cannot be understood through words;
Rather it is comprehended through reaching their limit.
Yet when sentient beings, whom previous victorious ones took under their care,
Hear about this truth, they develop confidence in it.

Buddha Shakyamuni

Start thinking about impermanence now ~ Thrangu Rinpoche

If we start thinking about impermanence now, while we still have time to find skillful means to deal with it, then later we will not be caught unaware. Even though in the short term, the contemplation of death and impermanence might cause discomfort, in the long term it will actually save us from greater suffering.

Thrangu Rinpoche

Upholding the lineage ~ Mingyur Rinpoche

During my first three-year retreat, I had the good fortune to study with a great master, Saljay Rinpoche. In the middle of the third year, I and a few of my fellow retreatants approached RInpoche to ask his advice. We had derived tremendous benefit from the retreat and asked him how we could help uphold this precious lineage. Practice! He told us.

Mingyur Rinpoche

Start observing your mind ~ Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Always stay alert, therefore, and watch what your mind is doing. Think about it. Over countless lifetimes, have you not been deluded, fallen under the power of your negative emotions, and as a result had to undergo – time and time again – the sufferings of birth, sickness, old age, and death?

Yet still you cling to samsara as if it were a happy place. You take things that are impermanent to be permanent. You work frantically to amass possessions you will never be able to keep, without ever being satisfied. Surely now it is high time to start observing your mind.

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

The yogin of true reality ~ Maitripa

Buddhists take true reality
To be free from permanence and nihilism;
To engage in affirmation and exclusion,
When it comes to naturally arisen phenomena—this is the talk of fools.

To those who claim that there is existence, we say
That, upon analysis, nothing exists.
To those who claim that there is no existence, we say
That, when no analysis is done, everything exists.

In whatever manner superimpositions
Present themselves to the yogin of true reality,
In like manner, superimpositions
Are destroyed by the yogin of true reality.


Weed ~ Shunryu Suzuki

For Zen students a weed, which for most people is worthless, is a treasure. With this attitude, whatever you do, life becomes an art.

Shunryu Suzuki

Interdependence at work ~ 17th Karmapa

It might help to understand the interdependence of our inner emotional or mental conditions through an analogy of how our internal organs work. Here, too, we see interdependence at work. Having two strong lungs is not sufficient. Our lungs must function in close connection with the rest of the respiratory system, our heart, our liver, and all the rest of the interdependent internal organs. Each needs to have a certain level of health, although if one is slightly compromised, others can compensate to a certain degree. But no one organ can keep us alive on its own.

17th Karmapa

Staying with the one who knows ~ Ajahn Chah

Normally the mind isn’t still, it’s moving all the time. We must strengthen the mind. Making the mind strong and making the body strong are not the same. To make the body strong we have to exercise it, to push it, in order to make it strong, but to make the mind strong means to make it peaceful, not to go thinking of this and that. For most of us the mind has never been peaceful, it has never had the energy of samādhi, so we must establish it within a boundary. We sit in meditation, staying with the ‘one who knows’.

If we force our breath to be too long or too short, we’re not balanced, the mind won’t become peaceful. It’s like when we first start to use a pedal sewing machine. At first we just practise pedalling the machine to get our coordination right, before we actually sew anything. Following the breath is similar. We don’t get concerned over how long or short, weak or strong it is, we just note it. We simply let it be, following the natural breathing.

Ajahn Chah