Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Are illusions real?  Do they truly exist?

On the one hand they appear, but we know from inspection and analysis that they can be proven to be false and deceptive.  If we are unaware of what is going on we could be tricked into thinking that illusions are real.  This kind of deception could create all kinds of problems for us, believing something to be real when it isn't.  Many a con artist has profited from this sort of deception. 

Eventually though the deception wears thin and we see things as they truly are.  With that knowledge we are never deceived in that same manner again, never caught up in the cycle of ignorance. 

So the question remains, if illusions aren't real, how do they exist?   We experience them, they have a certain color, shape, sound and maybe even touch.  But we also know from analysis that they are only brought about by certain conditions and that if those conditions fall away the illusion vanishes, thus they are not truly real. 

So we could say that while illusions appear, they are not truly existing.  I think that is a rational and logical way to describe how they exist.  While they appear, they do not truly exist. 

What about mirages? Dreams?  How about the reflection of the moon in water? 

What about an echo or a rainbow in the sky?

You should look about your life and even your self, what appears but does not truly exist upon further analysis?

What examples can you think of?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Summer Harvest

A gardener spends a lot of time and effort with the aim of having a bountiful summer harvest.  In the spring he mends the soil, replacing any lacking nutrients and correcting any imbalances.  Then he spends considerable time planting seeds and nurturing the seeds to sprout.  This requires astute attention to conditions and adapting to what the seasons are giving him.  As the plants grow through the early summer, the gardener diligently waters and eliminates invasive weeds that can strangle the crop.  As blossoms give rise to fruits and vegetables, he guards against insects that can ruin the harvest.  Finally, the fruit ripens and he can enjoy the harvest.

It is plentiful, so much so that he gives it freely to others lest it go to waste.  He shares abundantly, others benefiting from his work and feeling satiated themselves.

This is an example of an authentic spiritual practice.  It requires a lot of work and effort, constant vigilance and persistence, but if you do the work you will reap the harvest.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Eye Glasses.

One who has seen clearly will seek out glasses to enable himself to see if his vision becomes impaired.  He knows what he is missing, how it serves as a hindrance to his activity.

One who has never seen clearly and whose vision has always been impaired will not seek out glasses.  Why would they?  They get along just fine. 

The one who has seen will always strive to maintain his vision.  The one who has never seen has to be shown directly what they are missing, to see the alternate reality with their own eyes.

How does your vision affect your reality?  What details are you unable to see and how does that shape your experience of the world around you?  Do you value the ability to see clearly, honestly, and truly?  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Practice Essentials

Do no harm. 
Refrain from actions, words or opinions that rub others the wrong way.  All beings everywhere experience fear and states of suffering and loss, don't put salt on an open wound.

Cultivate a wealth of virtue.
Actively practice generosity, love and kindness.  Rejoice in others happiness.  Earnestly strive to develop discipline, patience and relentless perseverance.

Tame this mind of ours.
Abandon grasping and fixation, these lie at the root of all our problems.  Do not lend yourself to compulsive activity and distraction.  Pour your efforts into gaining insight into the nature of your own mind and the nature of reality- that is the path to liberation.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Lens.

We all see the world through a lens. 

It becomes distorted by negative emotions, bias, ignorance and fear.  It is clarified by knowledge, insight and wisdom.

Our thoughts can feed our perception (or misperception), furthering the distortion into something unrecognizable or they can be used skillfully with logic and reason to create clarity and true seeing.  Our perceptions give rise to our thoughts and intentions, which themselves gives rise to our actions. 

What kind of actions are we taking if our lens is obscured?  Is it right action?  Just?

Our character, discipline and integrity are founded upon right action, doing what is right for ourselves and others.  But if we are to walk with confidence free from doubt and fear, then first we need to clean our lens. 

We need to eliminate the emotional and cognitive obscurations that affect our perception.  That is a must. 

Time to do the work.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Where has all the Wisdom gone?

All the branches of the doctrine
The Enlightened Sage expounded for the sake of wisdom.
Therefore they must cultivate this wisdom
Who wish to have an end of suffering.

A cursory glance discerns acts of folly, 
Men and women playing childish games, 
Crows chattering over shiny tin foil, 
A local gelato of self-aggrandizement. 

This suffering runs deep.  
No one even knows it's here.
Why would they wish to be free from it?

They don't see impermanence,
They keep moving and keep buying.
They never sit with discontentment
Because they are always distracted.
Days into weeks, weeks into years,
The days a blur and the nights unconscious. 

Why talk about conquering fear, 
Changing perception, building character?
What sense in acting with generosity,
Love and kindness?

Even a busy fool notices moments of raw discontentment, 
Catch one and look deeply into it, 
Sit with it, examine it, play with it,
And awakening is possible.  
You'll find your wisdom.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Fear and the Ladder.

Fear is a pretty primal instinct.  We all have it.  It is almost always there in its various shades of darkness.  We fear our loss of friends, loved ones, status or wealth.  We fear loss of face.  We definitely fear our own death.

Our natural instinct is to try to insulate ourselves from fear.  To build up our comfort zone and a nice cushion.  That is our conquest, whether it is the fear of our present discomfort and discontentment or the fear of death itself.  In vain that conquest often takes the form of an attempt to conquer nature and the outer world.  

That is where the ladder comes in (and the habit of selfishness). 

We think if we climb higher we can actually insulate ourselves from fear.  If we can work our way up, get promoted, find a better job, make more money or achieve a certain status, then we won't be so vulnerable to fear and states of loss.  We won't be so vulnerable to death. 

It is our core belief that attaining higher states of existence will free us.

That is a pretty powerful implication.  Think about that.  Think about it in the context of your own life, our culture.  Is it true?  Can we climb our way out? 

Where is the true fire escape?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


The more we care for the happiness of others, 
the greater our own sense of well being becomes.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama

The Sanskrit word 'Dana' means giving.  

You have something to share and we want you to share it.  It is only when you recognize your own wealth and are willing to give it to others that the path to liberation begins. This marks the beginning of an altruistic attitude, caring for the benefit of others as opposed to yourself.  

Prior to giving there was only taking, egotism and concern for one's own welfare.  You know how that turns out.  You've already tasted that fruit and it grows more sour each day.  You know its bondage first hand.  

We bind ourselves with selfishness, 
We liberate ourselves through giving, 
So start giving.     

Monday, July 8, 2013

What's Your Mark.

A marksman knows exactly where her mark is.  

She knows when she has hit it, and when she has not.  

She will exert significant effort and a substantial amount of time to mastering her skills, cultivating the correct temperament and poise so that she can willfully hit her mark.  She learns how to handle external distractions and how to work with her own internal thoughts and emotions.  She knows how to adapt when the conditions change, how to stand in varied terrain.  

When she hits her mark, she is not lost in emotion and feelings of achievement.  Her's is the quest for mastery, for knowing directly and having the confidence that comes with that knowing.  The mark simply allows her to get there.  

What's your mark?

Thursday, July 4, 2013


The more time you invest in your practice- the greater your 'share of holding'- the greater the dividend you receive.  These dividends come in the form of blessings, inner wealth that can be reinvested and shared with others.

As your share of holding increases from a small portion of your life to a greater portion, you can expect to see a return on your investment in every aspect of your life- your job, your interactions with others, your good times and bad.  All the ordinary and mundane aspects of your life can become a source of great wealth and fulfillment when they are transformed by your practice.

There are no contradictions in terms of your practice.

The amount of wealth you have and the dividends you receive are commensurate with the share of your practice.  

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Asset Protection

It is wise to guard your assets.  Only a fool would waste away his wealth on trivial pursuits and shiny diversions. 

So how do we protect our inner wealth and our most valuable asset- our mind?

Commit your most valuable resource to your practice over an extended period of time.

Your most valuable resource is your time.  We waste a lot of it and that is to be expected.  But if you invest small increments of time over a long period you end up with a lot of growth.  There is not only the protection of your inner wealth and mind, but also the development and an accumulation of great potential. 

Just like investing with money, trying to time the market and invest at the 'right time' most often leads to you missing the opportunity for real growth and development all together. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Joyous Perseverance

If a knight drops his swords, he retrieves it without hesitation in order to protect himself.  
If a snake falls in your lap, you instantly jump up in order to avoid getting bit.
If there is a chance you might lose the game, you push harder than ever, rally caps on.
If we cut ourselves, we use extra caution to clean and dress the wound, applying ointment day and night to prevent infection.

And yet, when we drop our mindfulness we are not in a hurry to retrieve it.
And yet, when negative emotions befall our mind we continue to indulge them.
And yet, when we actually lose our patience we let anger rule the show, and keep winning.
And yet, when we cut off generosity we don't care about the ensuing infection.  Who cares?

Diligence is important.  This is known amongst ordinary men and even the Buddha's praise it.  The Exhortation to Wholehearted Resolve Sutra says:

Always rely upon noble joyous perseverance,
Which clears away all suffering and darkness,
Which is the basis of freedom from miserable realms,
And which is praised by all the buddhas.

One who joyously perseveres,
Has no difficulty accomplishing any project
Whether mundane or supramundane,
Who among the learned is disheartened by joyous perseverence?

If we do not persevere in overcoming our own shortcomings, how can we achieve our own aims, much less the aims of others?

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Squire and the Knight

Would you expect a squire to give a knight advice on how to vanquish his foes?

Of course not.

The squire has no experience.  He has not conquered a single enemy, hasn't swung a sword outside of playful practice.

The knight is well worn.  His discipline and honor show themselves by the calluses on his hands, the scars he proudly wears.  He has seen dark days, experienced real loss, real pain.  He has been pushed and pushed himself beyond the norms of comfort.

His patience shows in his resolve.  His diligence in his steadfastness.

The focus of his eyes is unwavering, like a lion.

When you ask a knight how to conquer your foes he can tell you many ways, depending on your position, your stature, your aptitude.  He can show you exactly what you need to know, no fluff.

So when you want to conquer your mind, overcome your shortcomings, cast aside your fear and doubt, do you ask a squire or a knight?

Of course nowadays everyone thinks they are a knight.  Put them in the middle of a battlefield though and then we can really determine the merits of their practice.