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How Metta Can Help You When Meditation is Hindered by Overwhelming Feelings

When I woke up this morning, I found my that my breath “anchor” came to mind within just a minute or two, with no conscious impulse to do so. This progress feels like a carryover of last night’s sitting meditation, right before I went to bed, which itself, seemed to be quite a lot of […]

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Self-criticism

The Importance of Taking the “Should” out of Spiritual Practice

The more one does one’s spiritual practice with a sense that it should be done, the more one creates a sense of self. And the greater the sense of a self trying to become “spiritual” or “liberated,” the more suffering we experience. We suffer both when we “fail,” and we suffer when we “succeed,” either way reinforcing […]

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Two paths 2

Can We “Choose” to Be Happy? No—and Yes!

Can we “choose” to be happy? Well, try it right now, and see. Make yourself truly happy. Can’t do it, right? At any given instant, if we are honest about it, we realize that we just feel what we feel.  Sheer willpower can’t make us truly happy.  We can’t flip on happiness like a lightswitch — […]

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Waterfall and Whilpool

Ken Mcleod on how to use Thich Nhat Hanh’s Five-Step Method of Emotional Releasing

One of the most skillful Buddhist teachers I know of and someone whose skillful teachings have brought immense healing into my life is Ken McLeod.  I can’t recommend enough his book: Wake up to your Life: Discovering the Buddhist Path of Attention or  his wonderful Unfettered Mind website: http://www.unfetteredmind.org/ which has dozens and dozens of […]

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Sun on Red Dried Flowers and Bowl

Non-resistance and the Art of Resisting without Resisting!

In Buddhism, nature of non-resistance is truly non-dual, but I think this this non-dual nature is misapprehended sometimes. Paradoxically, non-resistance doesn’t necessarily mean no resistance! Non-resistance is more like the martial artist Bruce Lee’s “fighting without fighting.”  Or better yet—and maybe pet owners can relate to this—it’s more like the resistive nonresistance of a cat, […]

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Don’t be fooled! There is a Way and We Can Walk It!

Mere belief and mental agreement with some metaphysical view—nirvana, emptiness, non-duality, the “way of no way,” the Tao, the “pathless path,” and all the other terms and concepts of spirituality — don’t do, pardon the language, a damned thing to change anything in us or in the world! The emptiness of Buddhism, for example, is not just a metaphysical view that […]

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Walking Meditation - Bhikkhu

The Importance of Compassion in Assessing Our Dharma Progress

Never condemn your past from the standpoint of some new spiritual understanding or breakthroughs. Never look down on who you once were. Never disparage “the old man” or the “old woman,” to use a biblical phrase, who you may now feel was so wrapped up in illusion, in grasping needfulness, in impossible yearnings and beliefs. […]

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Dove & Peace 2

Jesus and the Buddha on Good Friday

On this Good Friday March 29, 2013, I offer these excerpts from a dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh on December 24, 1997 in Plum Village, France. Jesus and Buddha as Brothers “There was a film maker who lives in Sweden who wanted to come and ask me this question: “If Jesus and Buddha met today what […]

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How Practice and Creativity Can Open Up Your Metta

It was an honor to join millions around the world in giving metta, loving-kindness meditation, to my fellow beings on World Day of Metta! Although, like most Buddhists, I do “formal” metta every day, as well as “metta in the moment,” it felt good to set aside a special time to give metta with so many […]

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Rays of Lovingkindness Light

Celebrate World Day of Metta!

Today, March 20, 2013, the organizers of the World Day of Metta are asking people all around the world to open their hearts and from 12 PM to 2 PM, local time, to meditate on and offer the following metta to all beings of the world: THE METTA May all beings have fresh clean water […]

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Stefano Unterthine Monkeys

To Know the Dhamma is to Know Your Monkeys!

Here is an short excerpt from a wonderful teaching called “Still, Flowing Water” by the great Thai Forest Tradition teacher Ajahn Chah.  As usual, the dharma talk shows Ajahn Chah’s great wit, his sense of humor, and the depth of his insight into human nature and the Buddhadhamma. Do you know your “monkeys”? “Some people complain, […]

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A. H. Almaas on Emptiness or Sunyata

I thought it would be helpful to follow a previous post, “The Skill in Looking at Emptiness as a Mode of Perception Rather Than a Worldview,” which presented an outstanding essay by Theravadan teacher Thanissaro Bhikkhu, with this essay by author and spiritual teacher A. H. Almaas. A. H. Almaas is the pen name of […]

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Take Time to Be Present Before You Rush Off to Do

Take time to be present before you rush off to do. One of the skillful Zen koans is “What is this? ” It doesn’t mean looking at something and saying, “That’s a chair. ” It doesn’t mean identifying where you are, i.e, “What is this? This is my front room. This is a mountain trail, […]

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Home Simpson Head Slap

The Difference Between Compassion and “Idiot Compassion”

Don’t Misinterpret! Pema Chodron Don’t impose the wrong notion of what harmony is, what compassion is, what patience is, what generosity is. Don’t misinterpret what these things really are. There is compassion and there is idiot compassion; there is patience and there is idiot patience; there is generosity and there is idiot generosity. For example, […]

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Hakuin Ekaku - Hotei on a Boat

Some Helpful Suggestions on Working with the “What is this?” Koan

Recently, I have been focusing on working with the Zen koan, “What is this?” This is not really a question to be answered with the conceptual mind or mental analysis, but more of a way of being with things with an openness and inquisitiveness into “what is.” This “What is this?” path or practice is […]

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Colorful Dawn

The Buddha’s Teaching When a Beloved Disciple Passed Away

This beautiful sutta from the Pali canon tells the story of what happened after the beloved disciple and arahat Sariputta passed away.  Sariputta—(Sāriputta (Pāli) or Śāriputra (Sanskrit)—was a truly remarkable student of the Buddha’s, and along with Ananda, was considered his greatest pupil. As Nyanaponika Thera writes of him in The Life of Shariputra: “Shariputra..was […]

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Beautiful Harbor

The Skill in Looking at Emptiness as a Mode of Perception Rather Than a Worldview

Few words in Buddhism are more well-known, and more debated historically among Buddhists, than the word “emptiness.”  What do we find about “emptiness” in the Pali canon, the oldest records we have of the Buddha‘s teachings?  In this essay Buddhist monk Thanissaro Bhikkhu explains how Theravadan Buddhists understand the word in terms of these earliest […]

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Composite Rocks

How the Buddha looked at the “What is a Person?” Question

A recurring theme in Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s writing is his stress on how important it is to understand what kinds of questions the Buddha answered, and refused to answer, in his teachings. Many people think his new way of using the Pali word “khandhas” was the answer to the question, “Who am I” or “What is […]

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Water Drop and Ripples

What Am I Doing Right Now? And Why Does it Matter?

In this essay Thanissaro Bhikkhu analyzes the profound importance of understanding the nature of our intentions and the actions that arise out of those intentions.  In many ways, as he points out, this issue is at the very heart of the Buddha’s teaching—looking deeply into intention, into cause and effect, and seeing how to “unbind” […]

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Moon & Brilliant Sunset

The Unconscious Motivations for Meditation Practice

These remarks are excerpted from a day-long program given by Jack Engler at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies (BCBS) on November 1, l997. Jack has had a long association with Dharma study and practice. He studied Pali language and Abhidhamma at the Post-Graduate Institute of Buddhist Studies in Nalanda, Bihar, and practiced meditation for […]

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Finger Pointing at the Moon

The Buddha’s Warning Against Getting Caught in Doctrines

The following conversation was reported to have taken place between the ascetic Dighanaka and Gautama the Buddha.  This recounting is from the book Old Path White Clouds: Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. ♡♡♡ Dighanakha asked the Buddha, “Gautama, what is your teaching? What are your doctrines? For […]

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Blue Fractal

Chaos Theory and Buddhist Views of Causality

Samsara Divided by Zero by Thanissaro Bhikkhu “The goal of Buddhist practice, nibbana, is said to be totally uncaused, and right there is a paradox. If the goal is uncaused, how can a path of practice — which is causal by nature — bring it about? This is an ancient question. The Milinda-pañha, a set […]

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