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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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A. H. Almaas on Emptiness and The Void

In the “Diamond Approach” of A. H. Almaas, there are many similarities, yet profound and important differences between this path and Buddhism, perhaps particularly Theravadan Buddhism.  Almaas envisions, and speaks from his experience, of “something” beyond “the void” or “emptiness” of traditional Buddhism—that which he calls “Essence” or “Being.” When Almaas speaks of “Essence” or […]

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How Facing Pain Helps to End Suffering

The Joy Hidden in Sorrow Reflections by Ajahn Medhanandi “When Marpa, the great Tibetan meditation master and teacher of Milarepa, lost his son he wept bitterly. One of his pupils came up to him and asked: ‘Master, why are you weeping? You teach us that death is an illusion.’And Marpa said: ‘Death is an illusion.  […]

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How the Buddha talked about “Not-self”

§ 128. “Form, monks, is not-self. If form were the self, this form would not lend itself to dis-ease. It would be possible (to say) with regard to form, ‘Let my form be thus. Let my form not be thus.’ But precisely because form is not-self, this form lends itself to dis-ease. And it is […]

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Holy as the Day is Spent-Thich Nhat Hanh on the Holiness of Mindfulness

This excerpt below is from “The Blooming of the Lotus: the Nature of No-birth and No-death.” It’s a dharma talk  given by my heart teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh on May 3, 1998  in Plum Village, France. It is followed by the beautiful and profound song, “Holy as the Day is Spent” by Carrie Newcomer from […]

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Zen Minus Moral Precepts Equals No Zen

In this post I’m sharing an excerpt from one of my favorite books by Zen master John Daido Loori. It’s a Shambhala Publications book titled Invoking Reality — The Moral and Ethical Teachings of Zen. In this short but powerful book Loori Roshi takes head on the prevalent misconception that Zen practice is just about […]

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Why Working with Suffering is Essential to Our Awakening

The following is an excerpt from an interview with Ajahn Sundara, a French-born ordained monastic in the Buddhist Thai Forest Tradition of Ajahn Chah. She has been teaching and leading retreats in Europe and North America for 20 and currently resides at Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in southeast England. May this sharing inspire you to discover […]

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Music and Poetry in Remembrance of the September 11th Attacks

On this day before the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, I want to share what I think is one of the most moving songs I’ve ever heard about this terrible event that broke our hearts and for a time united people all over the world in our common humanity. The song is called […]

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