Not the Same and Not Different

mediterranean-dining-tablesWe speak of a table as having a flat surface, legs, color, function, etc. —and yet, “table” is but the label we assign to the collection of the attributes of the table.

In the same way, we say that a person has a body, feelings, perceptions, volitions, and consciousness —and yet, “person” is only the label we assign to the collection of these aggregates.

We can conceive of a table with more or fewer legs, useless, or no longer extant, and we can conceive of a person lacking one or more aggregates. However, we cannot conceive of a table without at least some of its component parts, nor of a person lacking all five aggregates.

Just as the table is not the same and not different from its parts, a person is not the same and not different from the aggregates.

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nou[Whataboutery = responding to criticism by accusing one's opponents of similar or worse faults.]

Like children in the playground, adults of every age, as well as communities and nations, justify our verbal and physical violence invoking the harm that others may have caused us.

Assigning blame (“She offended me!”, “He hurt me!”), we shun our responsibility for our own actions. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth leaves the whole world blind and unable to smile.

The unwholesome conduct of others does not give us license to violate our moral precepts. Killing, stealing, lying, and abusing others are never right, even if ‘they’ are guilty of these same actions.

He abused me, he struck me, he humiliated me, he robbed me

—in those who harbor such thoughts, hatred will never cease.

“He abused me, he struck me, he humiliated me, he robbed me”

—in those who do not harbor such thoughts, hatred will cease.”

Buddha Shakyamuni, Dharmapada 1.3-4

The question we should ask ourselves at every moment is not who started this unfortunate chain of unwholesomeness, but who can and should end it. Only we can!


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Heart Sutra

Copia  de prajnaparamitaForm is emptiness; emptiness is form. Emptiness is not other than form; form also is not other than emptiness. Sensation, perception, volition, and consciousness are empty. All phenomena are merely empty, having no characteristics. They are not produced and do not cease. They have no defilement and no separation from defilement. They have no decrease and no increase.

In suchness there is no form, no sensation, no perception, no volition, no consciousness. There is no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind, no form, no sound, no smell, no taste, no tactile sensation, and no phenomenon. There are no sense organs, no conceptual mind, no afflicted mind, and no ground consciousness. There are no causal links of dependent origination and no exhaustion of causal links of dependent origination.

There is no suffering, origin, cessation, or path; no exalted wisdom, no attainment, and no non-attainment. Because there is no striving for attainment, all Bodhisatvas rely on and abide in the perfection of wisdom; their minds have no obstructions and no fear.

Passing utterly beyond deception, the great beings on the path to perfection attain the final state beyond sorrow. All the Buddhas who perfectly reside in the three times, relying upon the perfection of wisdom, become manifest and complete Buddhas in the state of unsurpassed, perfect, and complete enlightenment.

The essence of the perfection of wisdom, the formula of great knowledge, the unsurpassed expression, the equal-to-the-unequalled sound, the mantra that thoroughly pacifies all suffering, is effective and true. I declare the mantra of the perfection of wisdom. It is thus: om Go, go, go beyond, go perfectly beyond, to enlightenment!



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Loving Attention

346787-motherchildreuters-1331134205-155-640x480Even if a person I have cared for as my own child

treats me as his worst enemy,

I shall lavish him with loving attention,

like a mother caring for her ill child.

This is the practice of a Bodhisatva.

—Tokme Zangpo


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jesterAlthough one may come across examples of authentic Buddhist masters who dress or speak unconventionally, there is no license in Buddhism for unethical behavior.

Oriental or occidental ‘masters’ who claim their selfish and abusive behavior is a display of ‘skillful means’ or ‘crazy wisdom’ are to be given a wide berth —unless we want to jump over a cliff hand in hand with them.

—Lama Jampa Thaye

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Buddha Nature

maitreya2Like a Buddha statue within a lotus, honey in a beehive,

a kernel within a husk, gold within filth,

a treasure in the ground, the fruit of a bamboo shoot,

a Buddha image within tattered rags,

a king in the womb of a poor woman,

a precious image covered with earth,

similarly this Buddha Nature is present within all beings,

obscured by the temporary stains of disturbing emotions.


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“I am not a nihilist.”

10599217_312910965548767_8533767692277764432_nSome say: “The recluse Gautama is a nihilist.

He teaches the annihilation, the destruction,

the extermination of existing beings.” 

I am not a nihilist; I do not proclaim annihilation.

I have been falsely misrepresented thus.

Both formerly and now, what I teach is

suffering and the cessation of suffering. 

—Buddha Shakyamuni, Madhyama Agama (parallel version in Pali Alagaddupama Sutta)

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