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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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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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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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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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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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What the Buddha Said about Purity of Heart and the Grasping Self

This passage from the Sutta Nipata of the Pali canon has very special place in many Buddhist hearts.  To me, the teaching is closely related to the beloved passage from the 9th Chapter of  the great Mahayana Diamond Sutra that I recently posted:  See: “Does a Buddha say to himself ‘I have obtained Perfect Enlightenment?‘” I […]

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Metta Phrases for Dealing with Self-Hatred and Self-judgment

I invite new and regular visitors to take a look at my updated and expanded Metta Instruction page.  There you will find many helpful articles you can read online or download—articles such as these: Ajahn Brahmavmso Teaches Loving-kindness Metta—The Healing Power of Visualizing and Radiating Love Toward Others Bringing Metta to Daily Life—A Talk by […]

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Thich Nhat Hanh – A Simple Teaching on Bringing Mindfulness to What Arises

“There are some practitioners who want to bend and twist their breathing the way they think it ought to be. The Buddha said that is not the correct way. You only be aware of your breath and do not try to intervene. You don’t need to do anything, just know. You just observe, you do […]

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What is Our Life About? (poem and music)

Few dharma teachers speak to my heart as does Ezra Bayda. His books Being Zen: Bringing Meditation to Life and At Home in the Muddy Water: A Guide to Finding Peace Within Everyday Chaos came into my life when I really needed to learn more about the gentle wisdom of opening up to what is […]

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