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Look at the Three Characteristics in Terms of Actions

“So the Three Characteristics in and of themselves are not the content of Buddhist wisdom, Buddhist discernment. They have to be placed in context, the context of the question of skillfulness: “What are you doing? What are your intentions? …”

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Thich Nhat Hanh – Healing Through Resting in the Breath

I’ve not posted here at Metta Refuge for quite a while, which I something I plan to remedy, and I thought I would begin by sharing an excerpt of a wonderful talk from my heart teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh.  It’s called “Healing Through Resting,” though it could just as well be called “Healing Through Resting […]

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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