The journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step



This is what the dharma practitioner needs to understand — that the whole of samsara, or nirvana, is as essenceless or untrue as that film. Until we see this, it will be very difficult for dharma to sink into our minds. We will always be carried away, seduced by the glory and beauty of this world, by all the apparent success and failure. However, once we see, even just for a second, that these appearances are not real, we will gain a certain confidence. This doesn’t mean that we have to rush off to Nepal or India and become a monk or nun. We can still keep our jobs, wear a suit and tie and go with our briefcase to the office every day. We can still fall in love, offer our loved one flowers, exchange rings. But somewhere inside there is something telling us that all this is essenceless.

– Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

Just Dharma Quotes



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Thich Nhat Hanh Philosophy & Practice

The Reptilian Brain and the Buddha Mind

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Jackson Peterson

Sept 6, 2018

The Reptilian Brain and the Buddha Mind

Putting all philosophical views aside, let’s look at our human experience.

The human animal evolved from much more primitive life forms. Many of the remnants of those earlier life forms remain in our anatomy. A fundamental aspect of our brain is controlled by the “reptilian-like” functionality known as the instinctual urges to survive and to reproduce.

The reptilian brain dominates our
limbic system in the lower brain. All the higher intellectual powers of the brain evolved only to further the survival capacities of the reptilian brain. The ultimate “boss” of our organism, especially when under stress and duress, is the ancient reptilian brain. It always looks out for its own survival and usually, possible mating opportunities.

All thoughts, concepts, thinking processes and emotional states are all sophisticated modes being used by the reptilian brain in order to accomplish its goals.

This accounts for our resistance to sitting in meditation because it doesn’t really fit into the overall reptilian plan of increasing wealth, security and reproducing. This is why many meditators report much sexual fantasizing and the like often occurring during long bouts of sitting practice. The “boss” is trying to get things back on the right track.

When we sit in an undirected, state of “observing” meditation, our awareness will begin to notice all the mental traffic. ALL the mental traffic ties into the overall goals of the reptilian brain, no matter how sweet and sugar coated those thoughts “seem” to be. Even kind and “compassionate” thoughts are only a regard for others of our own or our favorite species’, survival. Wanting to help and care for others to survive, is just part of the broader survival instinct.

The reptilian brain has its tentacles wrapped around all of our activities. It’s always a businessman in that even love is a transaction expecting some kind of consideration in return.

Now in stark contrast is our Buddha Mind. It’s not an organism, has no evolved anatomy and has no interest in survival or reproduction.

Knowing this, we can differentiate the mental activities of the reptilian brain from the empty and serene clarity of the Buddha Mind awareness during meditation.

Here is a partial list of the reptilian brain’s favorite topics and activities: thinking, conceptualizing, daydreaming, imagining, sexual interest, sexual thoughts, a sense of personal selfhood, desire, dominating, controlling, managing, accumulating wealth, wanting to reproduce, interest in drinking alcohol, doing drugs, watching porno, engaging in S&M, possessiveness, needing someone, wanting to hunt, anger, hate, hope, preferences, prejudice, tribalism, nationalism, being a capitalist, interest in enlightenment, pride, arrogance, maintaining a good reputation, revenge and having beliefs. (just a very small sampling).

In contrast the Buddha Mind has no thoughts, no concepts, no daydreaming, “no mind”, no dualism, no fear, no agenda, no goals, no interest in survival, is unconditional love, has no stress, is uncaused joy, is contented satisfaction, no money goals, insightful wisdom states of mind, no personal identity, and unchanging “presence” outside of space and time.

The life of the reptilian brain is always samsara. The life of the Buddha Mind is always nirvana.

Sitting in empty, alert and clear awareness, notice and ignore all the activities of the reptilian brain, with the instructional words of the Buddha; “not me”, “not mine” and “not my self”.

We need make no moral judgments regarding any of this. There are simply two paths; the way of the reptilian brain and the way of the Buddha Mind.

When in a state of rigpa, the reptilian brain immediately assumes a subservient position. Why does it yield its dominant position? It’s because it instinctually knows that rigpa will be a much better “captain of the ship”. The Buddha Mind has unlimited intelligence and power, where the reptilian brain has only the brain of a turtle with fox-like upgrades.

One Truth Without Relativity

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Seeing the truth as it is, is the goal as well as the path. Confused existence, or samsara, is a complex situation based on passion, aggression, and ignorance. Its essence is turmoil. But unless you relate to passion, aggression, and ignorance as the path—understanding them, working with them, and treading on them—you will not discover the goal. By discovering the truth of confusion, or samsara, you are also discovering peace, or nirvana—freedom from confusion. Truth does not depend on formulas or alternative answers, but truth is seen to be one truth without relativity.

– Chögyam Trungpa

from the book “The Path of Individual Liberation: The Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma, Volume One”

The view brings a smile

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Deepti Kamat

For the One to know itself, it has to divide itself in order to get a perspective on itself

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“For the deepest passion of the Western mind has been to reunite with the ground of its own being. The driving impulse of the West’s masculine consciousness has been its dialectical quest not only to realize itself, to forge its own autonomy, but also, finally, to come to terms with the great feminine principle in life, and thus to rediscover its connection to the whole”

Richard Tarnas, 1996

More on ‘Ways of knowing: Separation and Participation’ see:

Ecological Consciousness


Everything depends on the mind

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– Tenzin Palmo

Be a lamp unto yourselves

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  Be a lamp unto yourselves. Work out your liberation with diligence. Fill your mind with compassion.

~ Buddha ~

The Working of Faith

Source: The Working of Faith | Great Middle Way


Jan 9, 2018

25550261_1692926904098152_6839728789231099887_nIt is so, Venerable Sir, that any noble disciples who have faith, who have aroused energy and established awareness, and who are concentrated, will understand reality thus: “This samsara is without discoverable beginning. Any first point for beings roaming and wandering on, blinded by ignorance and bound by craving cannot ever be seen.”

But what can indeed be experienced is the traceless fading and ceasing of ignorance, this massive darkness. That is the peaceful state, that is the supreme state … that is, the stilling of all mental construction, the relinquishment of all acquisition, the elimination of all craving, complete disenchanting disillusion, the end of suffering, Nirvana.

Their unique comprehension is rooted in the ability to understand. And, Venerable Sir, when they strive again and again along this very way, repeatedly recollect in that way, again and again concentrate the mind in exactly this way, over and over again understand only this in this very way, then the noble disciples gain complete faith thus: “Regarding things that I previously had only heard about, now I dwell having contacted them with my senses, and having penetrated them by understanding, I now see and directly experience. That conviction, Venerable Sir, is the ability of faith working.”

“Sadhu! Sadhu! Good, true and well-spoken, Shariputra!,” said the Buddha.

―Samyutta Nikaya

Nirvana, the Waterfall

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 “Before we were born we had no feeling; we were one with the Universe. This is called “Mind-only,” or “Essence of Mind,” or “Big Mind.” After we are separated by birth from this oneness, as the water falling from the waterfall is separated by the wind and rocks, then we have feeling.

You have difficulty because you have feeling. You attach to the feeling you have without knowing just how this kind of feeling is created. When you do not realize that you are one with the river, or one with the Universe, you have fear..

When the water returns to its original oneness with the river, it no longer has any individual feeling to it; it resumes its own nature, and finds composure. For us, just now, we have some fear of death, but after we resume our true original nature, there is Nirvana.

We say, “Everything comes out of emptiness.” One whole river or one whole mind is emptiness. When we reach this understanding we find the true meaning of our life. When we reach this understanding we can see the beauty of human life.

Before we realize this fact, everything that we see is just delusion. Sometimes we overestimate the beauty; sometimes we underestimate or ignore the beauty because our small mind is not in accord with reality.

To talk about it this way is quite easy, but to have the actual feeling is not so easy. But by your practice of zazen (meditation) you can cultivate this feeling.

When you can sit with your whole body and mind, and with the oneness of your mind and body under the control of the Universal Mind, you can easily attain this kind of right understanding. Your everyday life will be renewed without being attached to an old erroneous interpretation of life.

When you realize this fact, you will discover how meaningless your old interpretation was, and how much useless effort you had been making. You will find the true meaning of life, and even though you have difficulty falling upright from the top of the waterfall to the bottom of the mountain, you will enjoy your life.”

~ Shunryu Suzuki ~
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind