Drop By Drop

49867aDo not ignore the effect of small kindnesses,

saying, “This will come to nothing.”

Just as drop by drop the water jar is filled,

so in time the wise become replete with wholesomeness.

—Buddha Shakyamuni, Dharmapada 122

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Owning My Actions

14572877_880769898689153_7612001752720330144_n“I am the owner of my actions, heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my judge. Whatever I do, wholesome or unwholesome, to that will I fall heir.” One should reflect thus often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained.

Knowing the fruit of causal effects of any action, the wise gains complete understanding of dependent origination and sees all action as it really is. By action are all phenomena determined, by action the world goes on, and by action the beings go on. Beings are bounded, conditioned, and created by their behavior. By self-taming, by self-control, and by living the moral life, only by this supremely pure state do they become noble.


—Buddha Shakyamuni

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True or False

14717276_885680428198100_3947761358165614914_nIf a statement is ‘true’ but leads to harm, it is, in fact, false.

What is the real meaning of true and untrue?

That which is helpful to others is true.

—Kambala, Alokamala v 37

A statement endowed with five factors is well-spoken, not ill-spoken.

It is blameless and  not faulted by knowledgeable people. Which five?

It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth.

It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially.

It is spoken with a mind of good-will.

—Buddha Shakyamuni

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14718758_191996304542072_137950620795179261_nAll that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts.

If we speak or act with an evil thought, pain follows us, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the carriage.

All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts.

If we speak or act with a pure thought, happiness follows us, like a shadow that never leaves us.

—Buddha Shakyamuni


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Meditation is not something extraordinary

meditating-buddha-largeMeditation practice is not something extraordinary. Most of us eat every day, bathe every day, and sleep every night, because they are basic and necessary for our wellbeing. So is meditation. It gives us rootedness and emotional solidity. It allows us to maintain our centeredness —our peace— when faced with the constant challenges of daily life.

But it may take time to establish daily regularity. We can start with a modest, achievable goal: two or three times per week, and build on that. Kyabje Tashi Norbu Rinpoche used to say, to encourage whatever level of regular practice is possible at any given moment: “Seven days a week is optimal, but 6 days is better than 5, 5 is better than 4, 4 is better than 3, 3 is better than 2, 2 is better than 1, and 1 is better than none.”

Every action has consequences, and every cause produces effects. Over time, we will experience the results of our practice: the gradual reduction and eventual elimination of attachment, aversion, and indifference. However, those results are not experienced necessarily during formal meditation, but rather in post-meditation, in everyday life.

If we find that we are more patient, kinder, and more compassionate, our meditation is successful. If we see divine lights and hear celestial sounds during meditation, but are unkind to others when we leave the cushion, our meditation practice is just fantasy.


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Five Liars

wheelnidanasThe aggregate of form, the material body, tells me where I am.

The aggregate of feeling tells me how I am.

The aggregate of perception tells me what I am.

The aggregate of volition tells me why I am.

The aggregate of consciousness tells me I am the center of all this.

They all change; they all lie.


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“Our” Country

early-world-mapFor Dharma practitioners, our place of birth is not “our” country. It never was. We may have built a niche for ourselves there that shelters us to some extent from the true character of the place. We may have some good friends and relatives; we know what areas are safe and what areas to avoid; we know where to work and shop, and how to get around… We feel somewhat comfortable.

In reality, wherever we go, we are not of that place. We do not belong in samsara. It is a myth, a falsity, that there is an ideal place where we “fit in”. Every place in samsara is a place of birth, disease, aging, and death. There is no perfect location. Some places are just more tolerable than others, and only for a little while.

Attachment to the place of birth, like every other attachment, is a cause of suffering. Even if we enjoy it for some time, we will have to leave it behind —because we must flee oppression or war, or economic pressures, or natural disasters… or because we will die, only to be reborn some other place.

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