The wonderful irony about this spiritual journey ~ Pema Chödron

The wonderful irony about this spiritual journey is that we find it only leads us to become just as we are. The exalted state of enlightenment is nothing more than fully knowing ourselves and our world, just as we are.

Pema Chödron

The daytime practice of dream yoga ~ Alan Wallace

We bring our world into existence by focusing on certain appearances and ignoring others, then making sense of those appearances through our conceptual demarcations and interpretations. Out of ignorance, like a nonlucid dreamer, we take this conjured-up world to be substantial and independent. Wake up to the reality of yourself and the rest of the world as a matrix of dependently related events, each one empty of inherent existence, and you fully venture into the daytime practice of dream yoga.

Alan Wallace

The vital essence of practice ~ Dudjom Rinpoche

The common practices are the four thoughts that turn the mind away from samsara. The uncommon practices are taking refuge, generating bodhicitta, purifying obscurations, and gathering the accumulations of merit and wisdom.

Exert yourself according to each of their commentaries until experiences arise. Especially, embrace guru yoga as the vital essence of practice, and practice diligently. If you do not, your meditation will grow slowly, and even if it grows a little, obstacles will arise and genuine realization will not manifest in your mindstream.

Therefore, forcefully pray with uncontrived devotion. After some time the realization of wisdom mind will be transmitted to your mindstream, and an extraordinary realization that cannot be expressed by words will definitely arise from within yourself.

Dudjom Rinpoche

Like medicines ~ Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

These days we often encounter people who mix and blend religions to suit their comfort level. Trying to be nonsectarian, they attempt to explain Christian concepts from Buddha’s point of view, or to find similarities between Buddhism and Sufism, or between Zen and business.

Of course, one can always find at least small similarities between any two things in existence — but I don’t think such comparisons are necessary. Even though all religions begin with some kind of philanthropic aim, usually to relieve suffering, they have fundamental differences. They are all like medicines; and like medicines, they are designed to reduce suffering, but they vary depending on the patient and the ailment.

If you have poison ivy, the proper treatment is calamine lotion. If you have leukemia, you don’t try to find the similarities between calamine lotion and chemotherapy so that you can justify applying calamine lotion because it’s more convenient. Similarly, there is no need to confuse religions.

In these pages I have attempted to provide a glimpse into the fundamentals of the Buddhist view. In all religions the view is the foundation of the practice, because the view determines our motivation and actions. It’s so true that “appearances can be deceiving.” We truly can’t judge our next-door neighbors solely by the way they look. So obviously we can’t judge something as personal as religion by superficial appearance. We can’t even judge religions by the actions, ethics, morality, or codes of conduct they promote.

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

Buddha Nature ~ Khenpo Tsultrim Rinpoche

The purpose of teaching the “Tathagatagarbha” is to give meditators confidence that they already have Buddha Nature. Without such confidence it is very difficult to fully rest the mind free from all conceptual contrivance, because there is always a subtle tendency to try to remove or achieve something.

In the “Ratnagotravibhaga” five reasons are given for teaching the “Tathagatagarbha”.

Firstly, it encourages those who would otherwise be so self-depreciating that they would not even try to arouse Bodhichitta and attain Buddhahood.

Secondly, it humbles those who, having aroused Bodhichitta, feel intrinsically superior to others who have not.

Thirdly, it removes the fault of taking the stains, which are unreal, to be the true nature of beings.

Fourthly, it removes the fault of taking the Clear Light Nature, which is real, to be unreal.

Fifthly, by showing that all beings are intrinsically of the same nature as the nature of Buddha, it removes the obstacle to the arising of true compassion, which sees no difference between self and others.

Khenpo Tsultrim Rinpoche

Keeping the door to improvement open ~ 17th Karmapa

This is an important tenet in modern science that would serve us well in life, too. Anyone who says they have reached the final end of knowledge is not a true scientist. When good scientists make an important discovery, they do not feel that this means an end to their experiments or exploration.

You may know a great deal but also know that you can still learn from others and from new experiences. Your wisdom shows you that there is always more to learn. This is where a healthy humility keeps open the door to improvement. Pride, by contrast, closes that door. You sit behind that closed door telling yourself you are better than anyone else. The egocentric walls that box us in are constructed in just this way.

17th Karmapa

Subtly unclear state of mind ~ Thrangu Rinpoche

There are times when our mind stays with the object of meditation, but the meditation is not very clear, rather it is gentle and soft. It is easy to mistake this for good shamatha, but, in fact, it is not. Such a subtly unclear state of mind needs to be purified by tightening the mind and making our mindfulness strong, clear, and bright. This brings a sense of lifting both body and mind.

Thrangu Rinpoche

Pointing to Ultimate Bodhicitta ~ Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

If you can remember to say “everything is a dream, everything is an illusion,” even if you are kind of faking it, even if you are not buying it wholeheartedly, it would have so much benefit. You could recite and contemplate, “What I am looking at is just my dream, my illusion, my projection,” every day, maybe once in the morning, once at midday, and once in the night. And if you want to elaborate, you can face toward Bodhgaya and bow down three times while you think this. You could even roll out a small carpet and do all sorts of exotic mudras, if it helps you. As long as you are thinking everything is a dream. Then also immediately ask, who is thinking “everything is an illusion?”

After two or three years, if you do it properly every day, your way of looking at the world will change. The way an adult no longer cries over a wave taking a sandcastle, the normal things that used to make you worked up might not work you up so much. And that’s quite an achievement. That is better than a halo. A halo is useless, what will you do with a halo? Especially if you need to be incognito, carrying a halo around with you doesn’t help. But this attitude is useful. People will notice that you have become quite stable. Then the bonus is that you become a good leader, a good manager, a good spouse. Those are the bonuses, we aren’t aiming for that. Our aim is the big vision: to realize the truth.

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

Universal altruism ~ 14th Dalai Lama

Ultimately, humanity is one and this small planet is our only home, If we are to protect this home of ours, each of us needs to experience a vivid sense of universal altruism. It is only this feeling that can remove the self-centered motives that cause people to deceive and misuse one another.

14th Dalai Lama

Diligence ~ Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

Some people have the habit of thinking that something is bound to happen after practicing meditation a while – like going through school – that after ten or fifteen years you end up with a degree. That’s the idea in the back of people’s minds: “I can make it happen! I can do enlightenment!” Not in this case, though. You cannot make enlightenment, because enlightenment is unconstructed. Realizing the awakened state is a matter of being diligent in allowing nondual awareness to regain its natural stability. It is difficult to reach enlightenment without such diligence, without undertaking any hardship.

Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

Your own tender heart ~ Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

It may seem naive or unrealistic, especially in these challenging modern times, to rely on something as ordinary and soft as your own tender heart. Most of the world is under the spell of the capitalist mentality, which encourages us to be cynical and look out for our own self-interests first and foremost. This is even true in places like Tibet. It saddens me to see how so many people have given up on love and affection as a source of happiness and a remedy for suffering. Even people who are trying to effect positive changes in society – for example, by fighting injustice – often overlook the importance of the warm heart as the basis of all beneficial actions. This widespread lack of trust and understanding cuts so many people off from something as crucial to our well-being as oxygen.

Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

Regarding fear ~ Tenzin Palmo

Regarding fear, my best advice is not to be afraid of the fear.

So rather than that, when these inner fears, anxieties and paranoia come, what we need to do is to allow them to arise and come to terms that this is fear and then welcome it. Give it some love and ask it to speak and listen.

What is this fear? Where is it coming from? What is it trying to tell me?

Because normally when fear comes, we resist it, we push it down or we try to distract ourselves with other things and keep at bay as if it was an enemy. So here, we are trying to make friends with it.

Tenzin Palmo

Death is a process of change ~ Ponlop Rinpoche

From the Buddhist perspective, death does not just mean coming to an end. It also means coming to a beginning. Death is a process of change. Ending itself is neither positive nor negative; it is just reality. Death was part of the deal when we accepted the idea of birth. Our entrance into this world came with a contract to leave it. So, whether you sigh with relief at the end of a torturous moment, or desperately wish some Hollywood movie-like instant could last forever, every moment comes to an end. Every story has an end, regardless of whether that end is happy or sad. Nevertheless, when a moment or a lifetime ends, we cannot argue with it. There is no room for negotiation. Recognizing this reality is the way we come into contact with death in everyday life.

Ponlop Rinpoche

An Instruction on the Great Perfection ~ Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö

I prostrate at the feet of the noble guru!

Child, you who are a suitable vessel and take the Three Supreme Ones as refuge, listen!

Your faith and intelligence are supremely stable,
You have renunciation, and are disillusioned and compassionate.

For the likes of you, the qualities of the path
Will go on increasing like the waxing moon,
While I am busy royally devouring offerings,
And blessings and compassion only diminish.

Still, it is certain that the reflection of blessings
Will appear in the clear, mirror-like surface
Of the minds of fortunate disciples.

The mind is primordially pure, an empty expanse,
Complete with a spontaneously present, radiant clarity.
Looking into the very face of your own awareness,
You will be freed from the sullying defects of duality.
Meditate by settling naturally in unaltered experience.
And in spontaneous action be without hope and fear.
Whatever appears or arises will be naturally liberated, there and then.
These are instructions for the Great Perfection.

With these words, I, the one called Chökyi Lodrö,
Wrote whatever came spontaneously to mind.
I pray that this is no different from meeting me in person!

Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö

Accepting change ~ Shunryu Suzuki

Without accepting the fact that everything changes, we cannot find perfect composure. But unfortunately, although it is true, it is difficult for us to accept it. Because we cannot accept the truth of transience, we suffer.

Shunryu Suzuki

Emotional hygiene ~ 14th Dalai Lama

Karuna’ or compassion is based on warm-heartedness. Insight into reality requires intelligence. Cultivating compassion with intelligence we can develop peace of mind. When individuals are at peace within themselves, they contribute to a more peaceful atmosphere on a family and community level. It’s common to teach children about physical hygiene to preserve their health. These days I recommend that we also teach emotional hygiene, how to tackle the destructive emotions that disturb our peace of mind.

14th Dalai Lama

Freely resting ~ Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

Tradition describes three types of ‘freely resting’. Let your body freely rest like a mountain. Let your breath freely rest like an ocean, meaning that your breathing is as totally unimpeded, like an ocean when its surface is undisturbed. Let your mind freely rest in awareness; in other words, rest in the nature of mind.

Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

Dedication ~ Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche

Dedicate whatever happiness you enjoy to all sentient beings, wishing that whatever you have gained from your own virtuous actions will help nurture and serve everyone. All that you do and experience, all your happiness and suffering, should lead to the development of bodhicitta. Your confidence should become so firm that you are able to accept both life and death with equanimity.

Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche

Very uncertain ~ Ajahn Chah

Sometimes, when a fruit tree is in bloom, a breeze stirs and scatters blossoms to the ground. Some buds remain and grow into a small green fruit. A wind blows and some of them, too, fall! Still others may become fruit or nearly ripe, or some even fully ripe, before they fall.

And so it is with people. Like flowers and fruit in the wind they, too, fall in different stages of life. Some people die while still in the womb, others within only a few days after birth. Some people live for a few years then die, never having reached maturity. Men and women die in their youth. Still others reach a ripe old age before they die.

When reflecting upon people, consider the nature of fruit in the wind: both are very uncertain.

This uncertain nature of things can also be seen in the monastic life. Some people come to the monastery intending to ordain but change their minds and leave, some with heads already shaved. Others are already novices, then they decide to leave. Some ordain for only one Rains Retreat then disrobe. Just like fruit in the wind – all very uncertain!

Our minds are also similar. A mental impression arises, draws and pulls at the mind, then the mind falls – just like fruit.

The Buddha understood this uncertain nature of things. He observed the phenomenon of fruit in the wind and reflected upon the monks and novices who were his disciples. He found that they, too, were essentially of the same nature – uncertain! How could it be otherwise? This is just the way of all things.

Ajahn Chah

Altruism ~ 14th Dalai Lama

I believe in altruism. No matter how capable a person may be, no one can survive alone. We depend on the community in which we live. By dedicating ourselves to the welfare of others, we actually bring about our own benefit. As soon as I wake in the morning, I dedicate myself to helping others to be happy, which gives me self-confidence and inner strength.

14th Dalai Lama