The journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step


The jailkeeper is ignorance

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Gautama felt as though a prison which had confined him for thousands of lifetimes had broken open. Ignorance had been the jailkeeper. Because of ignorance, his mind had been obscured, just like the moon and stars hidden by the storm clouds. Clouded by endless waves of deluded thoughts, the mind had falsely divided reality into subject and object, self and others, existence and non-existence, birth and death, and from these discriminations arose wrong views—the prisons of feelings, craving, grasping, and becoming. The suffering of birth, old age, sickness, and death only made the prison walls thicker. The only thing to do was to seize the jailkeeper and see his true face. The jailkeeper was ignorance. And the means to overcome ignorance were the Noble Eightfold Path. Once the jailkeeper was gone, the jail would disappear and never be rebuilt again.

The hermit Gautama smiled, and whispered to himself, “O jailer, I see you now. How many lifetimes have you confined me in the prisons of birth and death? But now I see your face clearly, and from now on you can build no more prisons around me, you shall build no house (for me) again. How can you? I have destroyed the very materials by which you build it. All your rafters are broken, your roof-tree is destroyed. My mind has reached the unconditioned (i.e., Nibbana); the end of craving (Arahatta Phala) has been attained. And I am eternally awake.

– Dharmacakrapravartana Sūtra

Becoming the slave of illusions and distractions

Our mind is the basis of everything, and from our mind everything arises, Samsara and nirvana, ordinary sentient beings and enlightened ones. Consider the way beings transmigrate in the impure vision of samsara: even though the essence of the mind, the true nature of our mind, is totally pure right from the beginning, nevertheless, because pure mind is temporarily obscured by the impurity of ignorance, there is no self-recognition of our own state. Through this lack of self-recognition arise illusory thoughts and actions created by the passions. Thus various negative karmic causes are accumulated and since their maturation as effects is inevitable, one suffers bitterly, transmigrating in the six states of existence. Thus, not recognizing one’s own state is the cause of transmigration, and through this cause one becomes the slave of illusions and distractions.

– Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche

from the book “The Mirror: Advice on the Presence of Awareness”
ISBN: 978-1886449107 –

Withthanks to Just Dharma Quotes

Don’t focus on it

If, as in a dream, you see a light brighter than the sun, your remaining attachments will suddenly come to an end and the nature of reality will be revealed. Such an occurrence serves as the basis for enlightenment. But this is something only you know. You can’t explain it to others.

Or if, while you’re walking, standing, sitting, or lying in a quiet grove, you see a light, regardless of whether it’s bright or dim, don’t tell others and don’t focus on it. It’s the light of your own nature.

Of if, while you’re walking, standing, sitting, or lying in the stillness and darkness of night, everything appears as though in daylight, don’t be startled. It’s your own mind about to reveal itself.

Or if, while you’re dreaming at night, you see the moon and stars in all their clarity, it means the workings of your mind are about to end. But don’t tell others.

– Bodhidharma

With thanks to Just Dharma Quotes


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

Samsara and Nirvana

Samsara is mind turned outwardly, lost in its projections.
Nirvana is mind turned inwardly, recognizing its nature.
~ Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche ~

You are what you want to become

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You are what you want to become.
Why search anymore? You are a wonderful manifestation. The whole universe has come together to make your existence possible.
There is nothing that is not you.
The kingdom of God, the Pure Land, nirvana, happiness, and liberation are all you.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh.

From Virtue

Source: From Virtue | Great Middle Way 

June 11, 2017

14355663_10210516193049889_8986535463716328711_nFrom virtue, non-remorse arises.

From non-remorse, gladness naturally arises,

leading naturally to joy,

leading naturally to serenity,

leading naturally to happiness,

leading naturally to a concentrated mind,

leading naturally to seeing things as they really are,

leading naturally to revulsion and dispassion for samsara,

leading naturally to knowledge and liberation.

Thus, the preceding states flow into the succeeding states;

and the succeeding states bring the preceding states to perfection,

going from the near shore to the far shore of Nirvana.

—Buddha Shakyamuni, AN 10.2

Nirvana and extinction

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“When you are able to silence all views and words, when you get free from views and words, reality reveals itself to you and that is Nirvana. Nirvana is cessation, is the extinction. First the extinction of views and then the extinction of the suffering that is born from these views.”

~Thich Nhat Hanh

Way of Buddha, Way of Waking Up

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“Examine for yourself what is really the truth. What is the reason for the misery and pain every living being undergoes? What is the cause of samsara’s delusion? It is nothing other than lacking the experience of our enlightened essence. We ignore what is primordially present within us: our Buddha nature. Instead, immersed in confused emotions, we chase illusory aims that endlessly result in more deluded experience. That’s called samsara. We have already done that for countless lifetimes, life after life, death following rebirth. Unless you now take this opportunity, while you are still a human being, to realize what is fully possible, you will continue in the future in the same deluded way.

Please understand that the Buddha nature is present within everyone. Nobody lacks this potential, not even a single person in this world. Unless you learn how to bring it into your personal experience, train in that and realize it, you remain deluded.

Delusion never disappears by itself. Spinning around on the rim of samsara’s vicious wheel, on the twelve links of dependent origination, you will continue life after life. We all die, are reborn, and die again, countless times.

But, in this present life, you can learn to experience your enlightened essence, and if you do that, you can, before passing away, attain the perfectly and fully awakened state of a Buddha.

The method to transform this human body into rainbow light at the moment of death is only through recognizing and realizing our Buddha nature; there is no other possible way. The instruction for how to do that is still available.

Place your trust in the three jewels: the precious Buddha, dharma and sangha. Receive this teaching from someone who holds an unbroken lineage; this lineage is still intact…

Everything in the world changes; nothing remains the same, nothing is permanent, nothing lasts. If you want to be successful, if you really want to take care of yourself –recognize your enlightened essence..”

~Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche
Tibetan Dzogchen teacher

Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, Pointing out instructions, Dzogchen

Nirvana means extinction

Source: Tao & Zen Community Forum