Tag Archives: skillful-means

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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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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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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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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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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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 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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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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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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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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