The journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step

Impermanence

Blame

The purpose of acknowledging the law of karma is instructive, not punitive.

greatmiddleway.wordpress.com

April 15, 2018

Related image

Whether we assign blame to others or ourselves, the negative emotion that accompanies blame is unskillful. Blame entails not only assigning responsibility for an unwelcome consequence, but also imputing malice or evil intent to the one performing the act.

The law of karma, as taught by the Buddha Shakyamuni, lies beyond all concepts of human morality, right and wrong, good and evil. It is merely the understanding that causes produce effects. Gravity does not intend for us to fall and hurt ourselves when we trip; fire does not intend to cause us pain when our skin is burned by a flame.

When water comes in contact with a surface, that surface becomes wet. We do not blame the water for making the surface wet –that is its nature. Similarly, when our wrong views (ignorance of the nature of self and all phenomena) and afflicted emotions (attachment, aversion, and indifference) lead us to act in unskillful ways, there is no question of guilt and blame.

The purpose of acknowledging the law of karma is instructive, not punitive. When we understand that there is a relationship of cause and effect between our actions and the consequences we experience, we are liberated from victimhood. We are no longer subject to a random universe where evil befalls us without rhyme or reason. We are free to make our own way.

We do not study the law of karma to learn the specific reasons ‘why’ something happens. That exercise is futile. We understand the law of karma in order to make the determination to place positive, skillful causes in the continuum of our experience from here onwards.

The law of karma, of cause and effect, is not meant to lead us to recrimination, guilt, and blame. On the contrary, it is the acceptance of our capacity to be free from suffering and the causes of suffering, and embrace happiness and the causes of happiness.

Advertisements

Birth and death are only a game of hide-and-seek

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, closeup

“This body is not me; I am not caught in this body, I am life without boundaries, I have never been born and I have never died. Over there the wide ocean and the sky with many galaxies All manifests from the basis of consciousness. Since beginningless time I have always been free. Birth and death are only a door through which we go in and out. Birth and death are only a game of hide-and-seek. So smile to me and take my hand and wave good-bye. Tomorrow we shall meet again or even before. We shall always be meeting again at the true source, Always meeting again on the myriad paths of life.”

🌷 Thich Nhat Hanh, No Death, No Fear


Because suffering is impermanent…

Image may contain: 1 person, text

Thich Nhat Hanh Philosophy & Practice


3 Universal Truths that Buddha Taught

Source link

sameoldzen.blogspot.ca

December 16, 2017

 
Philosophers have wrestled with the concept of universal truth for centuries. But no one has been able to figure out exactly what it is, or even if it truly exists.
In fact, the existentialist philosopher, Nietzsche famously threw up his hands and stated, “God is dead,” while contemplating the question.
Of course, he wasn’t claiming that a literal super natural deity had died. Rather, he was expressing the fact that human conceptual thought around things like happiness, goodness, truth, etc. is inherently flawed. As a result, universal truth as represented by God cannot exist.
In Nietzsche’s view, the best we can hope for is to live as individuals, constantly striving against one another to impose our will to power upon the world.
The Buddhist view, however, is different. While Buddha would agree that humanity’s conceptual view of the world is limited, he observed three experiences that all living beings share. These are often referred to as The Three Marks of Existence in Buddhist literature.
As these experiences are shared universally by all living things, one could argue that they represent the universal truth that Nietzsche claims doesn’t exist. Furthermore, since they represent a shared experience, the Three Marks of Existence create a common ground between people, encouraging them to live in unity.
Based on this universal truth, Buddha built a philosophy in the 4 Noble Truths and the 8-Fold path which allows individuals to both understand the source of their suffering and successfully work to end it.
However, to truly grasp this philosophy one must first understand the The Three Marks of Existence. They are as follows:

Impermanence

To put it simply, the first mark of existence states that everything changes. On the surface, this may seem incredibly obvious; but is it? Do we live our lives like everything changes? Or do we quietly believe that while everything else in the world changes, the things we enjoy should remain the same?
In the end, stars explode, rivers run dry, and mountains crumble to dust. Everything in the universe changes, and the teaching of impermanence reminds us that human life is no exception.
Buddha witnessed this for himself when he left his father’s palace, and saw aging, sickness, and death for the first time. In fact, he was so shocked by the experience that he renounced the life of a house-holder, and spent the rest of his days as a wandering monastic.
Of course, we don’t have to live as renunciants to fully appreciate this teaching. But we must understand that change is an irrevocable part of our lives. To think otherwise is to invite unnecessary suffering.

Non-Self

The second mark of existence is probably the most misleading. It states that there is no permanent, unchanging self. To be clear, this doesn’t mean that we don’t exist. Rather, Buddha is telling us that the “I” that we think of as the self is only a very small part of a much larger, constantly changing whole.
To demonstrate, I’ll use myself as an example. My name is Alex and I have a physical body. However, both my name and my body came from my parents. I have a job and earn income, but ideas like ‘job’ and ‘income’ fall squarely into the realm of limited human concepts that we discussed earlier. Their useful tools, but they aren’t real in the same way a rock is real when it trips you on the side walk. So it would be a mistake to say those things are me.
Furthermore, I’m writing this article in a language that was created by other people before I was born, and I’m practicing a religion that is also not of my own making. In short, my name, body, faith, language, and job (e.g. the things that people usually associate with the self) aren’t truly mine.
In truth, it would be more accurate to call them gifts that I’ve received from the universe. I’ll hold them for a time, but they’ll eventually fade away like everything does.
Again, this doesn’t mean that I don’t exist. It simply means that my life is the result of an infinite number of karmic inputs from the world around me, most of which I’ll never understand or appreciate. It’s impossible to figure out where “I” stop and the rest of the world begins. The line is incredibly blurred; thus the teaching of non-self.

Suffering

The third mark of existence is the most straight-forward. It states that the world is filled with suffering. This sounds very pessimistic on the surface, so it’s important to put the remark into context. Buddha stated, “The world is filled with suffering,” in the same way that we might say, “It’s raining outside today.”
It’s not a good thing. It’s not a bad thing. It’s simply a fact of life. Our goal as practitioners is to accept this fact, and then find a skillful way to deal with it.
This is important because one major cause of suffering is believing that it shouldn’t exist (e.g. we shouldn’t get sick, relatives should never be inconsiderate, traffic jams shouldn’t occur, etc.)

The paradox of suffering is that the more we accept is as a natural part of life, the more peaceful our lives become.

It should also be noted that the word suffering is used in a very broad context in Buddhism. The death of a loved one is a form of suffering, but so is the neighborhood kid who knocks over your trash can. Thus the teaching is not meant to imply that existence is a long torture-fest.
Rather, it reminds us that life is filled with experiences, both large and small, that don’t meet with our expectations. And that’s okay. It doesn’t mean that we’re doing something wrong, That’s just how the system works.
But there’s still hope. Because if we have a clear understanding of Buddha’s core teachings: The Three Marks of Existence, The 4 Noble Truths, and The 8-Fold Path, then we can liberate both ourselves and other from suffering.
In Buddhism, the teachings of impermanence, non-self, and suffering provide a universal road map that anyone can follow. They speak to experiences that all living beings share, and provide a pathway for us to live happier, more peaceful lives.
We don’t need to search for universal truth. We live it everyday.

 My photo

Alex Chong Do Thompson is former Marine who’s been practicing the Way since 2013. He’s training to become a Lay Minister in the Bright Dawn Center of Oneness Buddhism. And he spends his free time reading, cycling, and playing with his cat, Ensō.

Once you understand the nature of suffering, it can no longer bind you

Image may contain: 1 person

The Buddha taught the four Noble Truths : the existence of suffering, the causes of suffering. The cessation of suffering, and the path that leads to the cessation of suffering. He said, “In addition to the sufferings of birth, old age, sickness, and death, human beings endure other sufferings which they themselves create. Out of ignorance and false views, people say and do things that create suffering for themselves and others. Anger, hatred, suspicion, jealousy, and frustration cause suffering. All these arise from lack of awareness. People are caught in their suffering as if they were caught in a house on fire, and most of our suffering we create ourselves. You cannot find freedom by praying to some god. You must look deeply into your own mind and situation in order to uproot the false views which are the root of suffering. You must find the source of your suffering in order to understand the nature of suffering. Once you understand the nature of suffering, it can no longer bind you.

“If someone is angry with you, you can get angry back at him, but that only creates more suffering. If you follow the Way of Awareness, you will not react with anger. Instead, you will quiet your mind in order to discover why that person is angry at you. By looking deeply, you can uncover the causes that led to the person’s anger. If you see that you bear responsibility for angering the person, you will not become angry, but you will accept that your own misconduct has contributed towards creating his anger. If you are without blame, you can try to see why the person has misunderstood you. Then you can find the way to help him understand your true intentions. In this way, you will avoid causing more suffering to both yourself and other person.”

“Your majesty and honored guests! All suffering can be overcome by looking deeply into things. On the path of Awareness, we learn to follow our breath to maintain mindfulness. We follow the precepts in order to build concentration and attain understanding. The precepts are principles of living which foster peace and joy. Practicing the precepts, our ability to concentrate develops, and we are able to live with greater awareness and mindfulness. Mindfulness nurtures the capacity to illuminate the true nature of our mind and our environment. With that illumination comes understanding.

“Only with understanding can we love. All suffering is overcome when we attain understanding. The path of true liberation is the path of understanding. Understanding is prajna. Such understanding can only come from looking deeply into the true nature of things. The path of precepts, concentration, and understanding is the path which leads to liberation.”

The Buddha paused for a moment and then smiled before continuing to speak. “But suffering is only one face of life. Life has another face, the face of wonder. If we can see that face of life, we will have happiness, peace, and joy. When our heart are unfettered, we can make direct contact with the wonders of life. When we have truly grasped the truth of impermanence, emptiness of self, and dependent co-arising, we see how wondrous our own hearts and minds are. We see how wonderful our bodies, the branches of violet bamboo, the golden chrysanthemums, the clear stream, and the radiant moon are.

“Because we imprison ourselves in our suffering, we lose the the ability to experience the wonders of life. When we can break through ignorance, we discover the vast realm of peace, joy, liberation, and nirvana. Nirvana is the uprooting of ignorance, greed, and anger. It is the appearance of peace, joy and freedom. Honored guests, take time to look at a clear stream or a ray of early morning sunshine. Can you experience peace, joy and freedom? If you are still locked in the prison of sorrow and anxiety, you will be unable to experience the wonders of the universe which include your own breath, body, and mind. The path I have discovered leads to transcending sorrow and anxiety by looking deeply into their true nature. I have shared this path with many others and they, too, have succeeded in discovering it for themselves.”

– from ‘Old Path White Clouds’ by Thich Naht Hanh


Image

Good news, bad news

Image may contain: text


Be aware of your potential for change

Image may contain: 1 person

“For a few moments, be aware of your potential for change. Whatever your present situation is, evolution and transformation are always possible. At the least, you can change your way of seeing things and then, gradually, your way of being as well.”

~ Matthieu Ricard

ॐ Buddha Island ॐ

* Medicine Buddha