“As human beings we are deeply insecure and we do not know who we truly are. Of course this problem does not show on the surface of our lives. We are always telling ourselves who we are, based on this notion that we are separate from everything else. This sense that “I am separate” is the ground of our sense of self. It is reinforced by various false identities that we cling to, notions that “I am this” or “I am that.” Whatever beliefs we have about ourselves are just another extension. Most of the time when we look around, we immediately see that our surroundings are validating these false identities. For this very reason, it is a challenging endeavor to deconstruct this illusion of self. Every time we look into our mirror we might have some thought about ourselves. Each of these thoughts adds up. They become the conceptual bricks we use to keep building this illusory castle of self. Yet, there is a suspicion that this notion of self might be very fragile and transient, and this thought is silently lurking somewhere in our consciousness. Most of the time this suspicion is not brought into the light of awareness, but if it is, some deep, inner wisdom will arise without choice. Our suspicion of the fragility of this false notion of self can go in one of two directions. In general it becomes a source of fear, anxiety, and insecurity. We often see people who are fearful and overly defensive when it comes to their own identity. We ourselves tend to become fearful if our identity is threatened. But at other times the suspicion can go another way. When that happens, it can be a life-changing revelation that can lead us to the realization of the highest level of truth. This idea is not some new, lofty theory. It is timeless wisdom that has been realized by many people in human history. Buddha taught this wisdom, and in his tradition it is called anatman, or “no self.” Anatman, or “no self,” is the term used to mean that one has seen through this false sense of self. One has seen that this false sense of self is merely an identification with one’s roles in life. It is just a mask, not the truth.”
The way to understanding is first to listen to yourself, because the roots of our suffering are deep and connected with the roots of the suffering of others. Usually we think that other people, such as our parents, our partner, or people at work, are to blame for our hurt. But looking more deeply, we can see the true sources of our own suffering, and we also can see that the person who we think is out to get us is a victim of his or her own suffering. Understanding our own hurt allows us to see and understand the suffering of others. Looking without judgment, we can understand, and compassion is born. Transformation is possible.
We each have many kinds of “seeds” lying deep in our consciousness. Those we water are the ones that sprout, come up into our awareness, and manifest outwardly. So in our own consciousness there is hell, and there is also paradise. We are capable of being compassionate, understanding, and joyful. If we pay attention only to the negative things in us, especially the suffering of past hurts, we are wallowing in our sorrows and not getting any positive nourishment.
Thich Naht Hahn
Not to blame, not to strike, to live restrained under the law, to be moderate in eating, to sleep and sit alone, and to dwell on the highest thoughts,–this is the teaching of the Awakened.
“Today, I am fortunate. I have a precious human life. I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to expand my heart out to others to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings.”
– The Dalai Lama
The evil-doer suffers in this world, and he suffers in the next; he suffers in both. He suffers when he thinks of the evil he has done; he suffers more when going on the evil path.-The Dhammapada
There is no separate self. We are a current. We are a stream. We are a continuation.
We are like the clouds in the sky, never dying, never passing from being to nonbeing. A cloud can become snow or ice or rain, but a cloud cannot become nothing. A cloud cannot die. If we overcome the notion of birth and death, we are no longer afraid of impermanence.
This book is a beautiful introduction to meditation, and includes general information on different forms of meditation as well as becoming more mindful in your life. It’s also not much of a time investment, and written by an accomplished Zen master. Go read. Go go go.
Not to commit any sin, to do good, and to purify one’s mind, that is the teaching of (all) the Awakened.
Let a wise man blow off the impurities of his self, as a smith blows off the impurities of silver one by one, little by little, and from time to time.
Let no man think lightly of evil, saying in his heart, It will not come nigh unto me. Even by the falling of water-drops a water-pot is filled; the fool becomes full of evil, even if he gather it little by little.
Let no man think lightly of good, saying in his heart, It will not come nigh unto me. Even by the falling of water-drops a water-pot is filled; the wise man becomes full of good, even if he gather it little by little.
What a gem this volume is! It’s a collection of sayings attributed to the Buddha, from the Theraveda tradition of Buddhism. It’s one of the least religious sutras I’ve read – it concentrates more of the philosophy of proper living in this world than theological matters.
Buddhism is a religion that recommends moderation in body, spirit, and mind, as well as detachment from emotions and day-to-day life. One goal of the Buddhism is to reduce suffering in this world, by promoting good deeds and a gentleness toward all living beings. The other aspects vary depending on which branch you’re studying, but another common goal is release from the cycle of reincarnation, the multiple rebirths experienced until a being has spiritually purified itself and obtained nirvana.
What I especially love about most forms of Buddhism is its focus on correct living in this world, rather than dogma. Gautama Buddha himself is generally not deified and is treated as a fellow traveler who could have released himself from the rebirth cycle but chose to teach and help others free themselves instead. Anyone can eventually become a buddha, with enough spiritual practice.
As someone who’s experienced chafing at Western religion, I adore the freedom of Buddhism’s flexibility on specific dogmas. I especially like that we’re all given endless chances to achieve heaven and cessation of being – there is no one great chance, instead we’re all fellow co-learners at different points of development…
There are many forms of Buddhism, and there are many deities-Mara, being the king of Hell, and others. For me, right now, I read it more these as a metaphor – a greedy person or addict who dies without is reborn as a hungry ghost in the hell realm to suffer eternal hunger.
I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone interested – you can read it as an ancient philosophy that ables to our modern world.