Diana St Ruth
I received an interesting piece recently by Jamie Gargett—which follows this preamble—about the realm of the hungry ghosts on the Wheel of Life. I was therefore prompted to write this short introduction as a reminder of this fascinating teaching-aid.
Most will agree, I am sure, that the Wheel of Life never loses its value as an object of contemplation. It has everything in it as far as the Buddha’s teaching is concerned, and the Tibetans, among others, have used it since time immemorial.
The first thing that one notices in these vivid Tibetan scrolls (thangkas), is the large character representing the Lord of Death. He is shown holding up a great, round mirror. There is no physical face staring back at us, however, instead the reflection is of the experiences in our lives—all the possibilities open to us—in the form of a wheel.
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The ordinary man is living a very abnormal life, because his values are upside down. Money is more important than meditation; logic is more important than love; mind is more important than heart; power over others is more important than power over one’s own being. Mundane things are more important than finding some treasures which death cannot destroy.
If a system leads to relinquishment, to not clinging, then it is correct practice. You may wish to travel, to visit other teachers and try other systems. Some of you have already done so. This is a natural desire.
You will find out that a thousand questions asked and knowledge of many systems will not bring you to the truth. Eventually you will get bored. You will see that only by stopping and examining your own mind can you find out what the Buddha talked about. No need to go searching outside yourself. Eventually you must return to face your own true nature.
Sitting for hours on end is not necessary. Some people think that the longer you can sit, the wiser you must be. I have seen chickens sit on their nests for days on end!
Wisdom comes from being mindful in all postures. Your practice should begin as you awaken in the morning. It should continue until you fall asleep.
Don’t be concerned about how long you can sit. What is important is only that you keep watchful whether you are working or sitting or going to the bathroom.
Each person has his own natural pace. Some of you will die at age fifty, some at age sixty-five, and some at age ninety. So, too, your practice will not be all identical.
Don’t think or worry about this. Try to be mindful and let things take their natural course. Then your mind will become quieter and quieter in any surroundings. It will become still like a clear forest pool.
Then all kinds of wonderful and rare animals will come to drink at the pool. You will see clearly the nature of all things (sankharas) in the world.
You will see many wonderful and strange things come and go. But you will be still. Problems will arise and you will see through them immediately.
This is the happiness of the Buddha.
May the moon softly restore you by night
May the rain wash away your worries
May the breeze blow new strength into your being
May you walk gently through the world
and know it’s beauty all the days of your life ~ Apache Blessing ~
Tao & Zen
Do not try to know the truth, for knowledge by the mind is not true knowledge. But you can know what is not true—which is enough to liberate you from the false. The idea that you know what is true is dangerous, for it keeps you imprisoned in the mind. It is when you do not know, that you are free to investigate. And there can be no salvation, without investigation, because non investigation is the main cause of bondage.
— Nisargadatta Maharaj
What is not real, never was and never will be.
What is real, always was and cannot be destroyed
-Krishna — with Jaqueline Shaw.
The more troublesome the world looks, the more you have to look inside to find out where the World comes from and the one who sees it.
“Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real. If quantum mechanics hasn’t profoundly shocked you, you haven’t understood it yet.”
“To stay with that shakiness — to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge — that is the path of true awakening. Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic — this is the spiritual path.”
If you go the way of your thoughts,
you will be carried away by them,
and you will find yourself in an endless maze.
~ Ramana Maharshi ~
If they would only eliminate all conceptual thought in a flash, that source-substance would manifest itself like the sun ascending through the void and illuminating the whole Universe without hindrance or bounds. Therefore, if you students of the Way seek to progress through seeing, hearing, feeling, and knowing, when you are deprived of your perceptions, your way to Mind will be cut off and you will find nowhere to enter.
Only realize that, though real Mind is expressed in these perceptions, it neither forms part of them nor is separate from them. You should not start reasoning from these perceptions, nor allow them to give rise to conceptual thought; yet nor should you seek the One Mind apart from them or abandon them in your pursuit of the Dharma.
Do not keep them nor abandon them nor dwell in them nor cleave to them. Above, below and around you, all is spontaneously existing, for there is nowhere which is outside the Buddha Mind.
Zen Teachings of Huang Po
Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.
~ Buddha ~
True nature is watching water. When you say, “My meditation is very poor”, here you have true nature, but do not realize it. Nothing exists but momentarily in its present form and color. One thing flows into another and cannot be grasped.
The true purpose is to see things as they are, to observe things as they are, and to let everything go as it goes. This is to put everything under control in its widest sense.
Zen practice is to open up our small mind. So concentrating is just an aid to help you realize “big mind”, or the mind that is everything. That everything is included within your mind is the essence of mind… Even though waves arise, the essence of your mind is pure.
that your mind has gone to sleep.
It does not even occur to most people to see this,
so they live and die as prison inmates.
Most people end up being conformists;
they adapt to prison life.
A few become reformers;
they fight for better living conditions in the prison,
better lighting, better ventilation.
Hardly anyone becomes a rebel,
a revolutionary who breaks down the prison walls.
You can only be a revolutionary
when you can see the prison walls in the first place.
~ Anthony de Mello ~
Pushing and shoving, I came to realize, is part of a Tibetan monk’s way of life, but there was nothing malicious about it. On the contrary. To see young monks struggling to get into the main gompa at Drepung early one morning when the Dalai Lama moved from Ganden in the middle of his stay was a sight indeed! The object, it seemed, was to get into the gompa itself where His Holiness was about to give a puja. The main doorway was completely blocked with a sea of maroon spilling out, down the steps and onto the surrounding area below. But there was a side door which was still being bombarded by younger monks to the obvious displeasure of the disciplinarians who were straining to lash out with long sticks. But their blows were mostly ineffectual, failing to find the mark. The whole crowd cheered as yet another…
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Bai Juyi (772-846 CE) was an important poet and government officer during the Tang Dynasty in China. He once asked a Buddhist 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 of eighty still fail to put them into practice.”
I was excited to have the day off today, to spend some time with the kids in the warm comfort of our home while a bitter winter wind howled outside. With dinner time just ended, though, I stood on the front porch in the eleven-degree cold. Alone. In the quiet.
Back inside, the boys where whirling around the family room. They alternately laughed and bickered with each other about the rules to a game that involved holding your breath while running and seeing who could land sideways on the couch from the furthest distance. My daughter played the flute in the kitchen in unintended accompaniment, each note a bit off since my wife was trying to fix one of the keys on the removed lower third of the instrument. It had just been too much for me, and so I found myself standing outside. Breathing.
So much of the day…
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have got stuck in beautiful experiences,
and have become identified with those experiences,
thinking, “I have found myself.”
They have stopped before reaching the final stage
where all experiences disappear.
Enlightenment is not an experience.
However beautiful and however enchanting
an experience you come across,
you are not it.
You are the one who is witnessing it.
If you go on and on and on,
the ultimate in the journey is the point
when there is no experience left –
neither silence, nor blissfulness, nor nothingness.
There is nothing as an object for you,
but only your subjectivity.
The mirror is empty;
it is not reflecting anything.