Children and Old Men

16195033_967753589990783_7071351214236564669_nBai Juyi (772-846 CE) was an important poet and government official of the Tang Dynasty in China. He once asked a monk for the most essential Dharma instruction, and the monk replied by quoting the Buddha’s summary teaching, “Avoid harm. Do good. Purify the mind.”

Bai Juyi was not impressed, “Every child of three years knows these words. What I want to know is the most profound and fundamental teaching of the Buddha.” The monk replied, “Every child of three years knows these words, but white-haired men still fail to put them into practice.”

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Projections

moviesConsciousness (mind and mentation) is “the stuff” what we mistake to be subject and object, me and mine, us and things. There is no substantial me, mine, us, things, but only internal representations in our experience.

When you see a movie, the actors and the scenery are not there in the theater. They are images on film, projected on a screen. These images look like various persons and things, but they are all “made” of the same stuff: light and shadow.

In the same way, our every experience is only in and of consciousness, taking the form of (transforming into) subject and object, self and beings, phenomena and their characteristics. Our experience is never extra-mental. It is always internal.

 

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Here and There

shakyamuni_100As a river, when full, must flow

and reach and fill the distant plain,

so what is given here, indeed,

will reach and bless the beings there.

 

As water on a mountain top

must soon descend and fill the plain,

so what is given here, indeed,

will reach and bless the beings there.

—Buddha Shakyamuni, Nidhikanda Sutta, Khuddakapatha

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Real Treasure

treasureAmong all possessions,

the Buddha described contentment

as the best and most excellent.

Always be content!

If you know contentment,

even if you have nothing else,

you own a real treasure.

—Arya Nagarjuna, Letter to a Friend

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Empty & Full

imagesLearn this from the river’s flow

in mountain cleft and chasm:

the rivulets gush loudly,

the great stream moves silently.

 

Empty things boom loud.

The full are ever quiet.

The fool is like an empty pot;

the sage is full.

—Buddha Shakyamuni

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Not Impotent

14962799_906165236149619_5635071772651137420_nIt is painful to see sentient beings we love not only suffering now, but also continuing to accumulate causes of future suffering.

At times like this, it is important to remember that we are not impotent. Whatever good we do is of universal benefit.

Even if particular individuals will not accept our kindness and compassion, we can reduce their suffering indirectly, by helping others. By improving the quality of the environment through our virtuous acts, everyone benefits.

When we give love to those who accept it, even those who reject it are embraced.

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Root of All Virtue

15178277_924667227632753_1186724330007344424_nThose who cultivate compassion can give what is difficult to give;

can tolerate patiently what is difficult to tolerate;

and can do what is difficult to do.

Compassion is the root of all virtue.

—Buddha Shakyamuni, Sutra of Lay Morality

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