I shall wander from country to country guiding many disciples,
and they will be diligent and energetic in practicing my teaching,
the teaching of one without sensual desire,
and they will go where, having gone, one does not grieve.
—Buddha Shakyamuni, Padhana Sutta
Haven’t you spent enough time comparing your hair
and your clothes and your face to the hair and the faces
and the clothes of those around you?
See the body for what it is.
Real beauty is in the clear open light of the nonjudgmental heart.
—Bhikshuni Abhirupananda, Therigatha
The presence of space makes it possible for the whole universe to be set within it, and yet this does not alter or condition space in any way. Although rainbows appear in the sky, they do not make any difference to the sky; it is simply that the sky makes the appearance of rainbows possible.
Phenomena adorn emptiness, but never corrupt it.
—Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
When I left the only home I’d ever known, I thought I’d left everything behind.
But I was still carrying all the years of running back and forth and around in circles after this or that.
Just sitting still, those circles have broken apart and been carried away by this simple wind, blowing in and out.
All your old thoughts, like snow falling on warm ground. Just sit back and watch.
—Bhikshuni Sangha, Therigatha
Beware of bodily anger, and control your body! Leave the unskillful acts of the body, and with your body practice virtue!
Beware of the anger of the tongue, and control your tongue! Leave the unskillful acts of the tongue, and practice virtue with your tongue!
Beware of the anger of the mind, and control your mind! Leave the unskillful acts of the mind, and practice virtue with your mind!
The wise who control their body, who control their tongue, the wise who control their mind, are indeed well controlled.
—Buddha Shakyamuni, Dhammapada
walking in circles
with an empty bowl.
Leaning on my staff
in the middle of the road,
my whole body shaking with hunger,
what little strength I had left, left me.
As I was falling to the ground, I saw:
I was the spoonful of rice and this whole world, the bowl.
You can’t fail, even if you try.
—Bhikshuni Dharma, Therigatha
If Buddhism is not socially engaged, it is not true Dharma. The Buddha did not remain seated under the bodhi tree after his enlightenment. On the contrary, he labored tirelessly for the liberation and enlightenment of all beings during the next 45 years, abolishing the caste system, preventing animal abuse and sacrifice, stopping fratricidal wars, instituting female monasticism, promoting respect for rivers and forests, and preaching equality and solidarity.
Buddhism frees the mind, encouraging personal and collective responsibility for universal wellbeing. The Dharma clearly identifies the root of all systems of oppression: individualist supremacy (self-grasping and self-cherishing) and labors peacefully to eliminate speciesism, nationalism, xenophobia, classism, male chauvinism, racism, elitism, ageism, ableism, and all the permutations and sequelae of prejudice.
Buddhism is not a pietist, “otherworldly” religion. It is a practice in this world, a way of life for here and now. The heart of the Dharma is solidarity and freedom.
After all those years
looking after others,
this old heart has finally learned
to look after itself.
Each act of kindness is a stitch in this warm blanket
that now covers me while I sleep.
—Bhikshuni Sumana, Therigatha
Bound with the yoke of sensuality and the yoke of becoming, bound with the yoke of views, compelled by the yoke of ignorance, beings wander in samsara, heading to birth and death.
But those who understand sensuality and the yoke of becoming, who have thrown off the yoke of views and are free from ignorance, disjoined from all yokes, they, their yokes overcome, are wise indeed.
—Buddha Shakyamuni, Yoga Sutra
Life had always been hot sweaty work.
First, I learned to control my hands,
then my mouth, then my mind.
As things slowed,
I sank down, down,
to the bottom of the heart’s sea.
There I dug out the roots of all craving,
and swam back to the surface.
The water had grown cool.
And outside, everything had grown cool,
as though the heart had traveled north.
—Bhikshuni Uttara, Therigatha