Supreme Bliss

65659_10203240585594399_1473173281_nBlissful is solitude for one who is content, learned, and established in the Dharma.

Blissful is kindness towards all beings, without exception.

Blissful is full freedom from sensual urges.

And yet, the supreme bliss

is the elimination of this abysmal conceit of ‘me’ and ‘mine’.

—Buddha Shakyamuni, Udana

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Recollection

998157_582547265171073_743527845_nnamo guru shakyamuniye

Those who, while walking, sitting, standing, or sleeping,

recollect the moon-like Buddha,

will always be in the Buddha’s presence,

and will attain the vast nirvana.

—Mipham Rinpoche

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Goals & Plans

1470222_575852399159149_1496710467_nEveryday life demands a certain level of planning and goal-setting. After all, we need to secure shelter, food, and other necessities; provide for our dependents; and be able to practice generosity.

As Buddhists, however, it is important to make sure that our planning and goal-setting are aligned with the Dharma. This entails that we review our plans in light of the three essential aspects of the Path: avoid harm, do good, and purify the mind.

Thus, we should ask ourselves whether our plans violate or will induce violations of the 5 Precepts against killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct, and intoxication. If such is the case, we must adjust or abandon them.

Next, we should examine whether such plans will allow us to develop the Ten Perfections: generosity, morality, patience, effort, concentration, discernment, aspiration, skillful means, power, and wisdom.

Finally, we should discern whether our goals and plans foster or impede the cultivation of the Four Immeasurables: love, compassion, rejoicing in the welfare of others, and equanimity.

After subjecting our goals and plans to these three tests, we can embrace them wholeheartedly, while always remembering that our fundamental goal —the only one that is truly important and necessary— is complete enlightenment.

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On the Validity of Different Buddhist Canons

pecha2Some sutras are not recognized by sectarian Buddhists as authoritative because they are not included in their own scriptural collections. But are only their own sutras authoritative? Or should what the Buddha taught be the authority? If they only accept their own scriptural canons, then the Buddha is not their Teacher and they are not His disciples*.

It is unreasonable to claim that our teachings are not the words of the Buddha simply because they are not included in their own collection of sutras, since they are found in other canons and do not contradict other discourses or the truth of the Dharma.

It is overly bold of them to claim that our scriptures are not what the Buddha taught simply because they chose not to include them in their own canon of scripture.

—Vasubandhu, in Refutation of the Theory of a Self 2.6.1 

*If they determine which teachings of the Buddha they accept, and which they do not, then they are, in fact, their own teachers.
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Dream Yoga

milamThe Buddha Shakyamuni instructed us to regard all phenomena as illusory appearances. He used many examples, like dreams, echoes, and mirages to illustrate the illusory nature of the phenomenal world. Dreams are particularly apt examples, because unlike mirages and echoes, they resemble waking experience more completely.

Dreams can and often do include all six consciousnesses (mental, auditory, tactile, visual, gustatory, and olfactory), the six senses (mind, hearing, touch, vision, taste, smell), and the six sense objects (thoughts, sounds, tactile sensations, forms, tastes, and odors). There’s nothing that is absent within the dream experience; in going to sleep, we’re just passing from one type of experience to another.

If we can understand how dreams appear, and how they are capable of generating feelings, sensations, emotions, and volitions, we can better understand our waking experience. Exploring our dreams, then, can give us valuable insight into the nature of mental phenomena.

In the Nyingma and Kagyu lineages of Tibetan Buddhism, Dream Yoga (Tib. milam, Skt. svapnadarshana) typically includes four processes: recognizing that we are dreaming while dreaming; directing and transforming the dream; multiplying the appearances of dream objects and changing their dimensions at will; and unifying the dream with empty luminosity of the mind. These practices, although very beneficial, require much time and effort, and not all persons are successful at achieving lucid dreaming.

Among the Jonang, Dream Yoga consists not in controlling and manipulating dreams, but rather in analyzing, contemplating, and contrasting the workings of the mind during the waking and dreaming states, and realizing that they are not essentially different processes. In both cases, our senses make contact with sense objects, giving rise to feelings, emotions, and volitions. The only difference is that, when we arise from sleep, we realize that dream objects were generated internally and are insubstantial, while when awake, we believe that the objects we encounter are external and real.

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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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Whataboutery

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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