brief teachings

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    The Two Sisters Paid Member

    There is an interesting story in the Nirvana Sutra. One day a young lady of otherworldly beauty visited a rich merchant’s house. She was so attractive that the head of the house asked her if she was a heavenly being. She said she was called Heavenly Maiden of Virtue. Whoever was visited by her obtained anything he wanted, such as gold, silver, lapis lazuli, pearls, elephants, horses, servants, and so on. The rich merchant joyfully invited her into the house. After a while another woman, who was extremely ugly, thin, and poor-looking, came to the house. She wore dirty rags and looked so emaciated that here and there flesh and bone were visible. She said she was called Darkness and whoever was visited by her lost their possessions. The head of the house found her so repulsive that he told her to get out. She told him that it was silly to say that because she and the Heavenly Maiden of Virtue were sisters and that they always went together. More »
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    Cutting the Threads Paid Member

    It doesn’t take much reflection to realize that everything you think of as “yours”…will, in the not-too-distant future, belong to someone else—if it is not discarded altogether. A friend’s mother recently died and he had been sorting through her belongings. He was able to take his time over this, and he noticed that gradually each object “returned to itself.” It was no longer identified with his mother; it was no longer a part of her. There was just a vase; just some writing on paper in a language that he and his sister couldn’t read.  More »
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    The Best Possible Habit Paid Member

    Karma is basically habit. It’s the momentum of repeated actions that become habitual. It’s in our best interest to develop as many positive habits as we can. In the Mahanama Sutta, the Buddha said, “Just as oil rises to the top of a pot submerged in water, your virtue, your goodness, your faith, or generosity will rise to the top, and that is what will carry you to your next destination.”  Practicing the good heart, or bodhicitta, is the essence of a good life and the best possible habit. Bodhicitta, which is a heart filled with love and compassion, is also the essence of a Buddha. It purifies negative karma and accumulates positive karma. Lama Zopa Rinpoche says, “The main thing is to practice bodhicitta. Dying with bodhicitta is the best way to die.” More »
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    Flowing Feelings Paid Member

    The flowing, fast-moving water of a river is far less likely to contain impurities than trapped water that pools in swamps and hollows. Standing water is an incubator for bacteria, is often contaminated, unsafe to drink, a breeding ground of mosquitoes.  When feelings are allowed to flow through the body, they too are safe; they do not poison or destroy the container that conveys it. But when our emotional life is blocked, put off by distractions and the busyness of life, it becomes toxic; pressure builds over time, it seeks out other routes; the blocked energy eventually floods, spreading all that has developed in this damaging state.  More »
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    Tuning the Mind Paid Member

    When I look at relationships, my own and others, I see a whole range of reasons we get together and ways we interact. Some are transactional, but the deeper impulse of every human relationship is to evoke the love and oneness that unites us. But what actually happens is that many relationships reinforce our separateness because of our misperception of ourselves as separate beings, and because of our desire systems, which are based in separateness or ego. Relationships only work in a spiritual sense when you and I really see that we are one.  More »
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    A Contemplation Paid Member

    I contemplated my greed for peace. And I did not seek tranquillity anymore. From Teachings of a Buddhist Monk, © 1990/2001 Ajahn Sumedho. Reprinted by permission of Buddhist Publishing Group. Illustration by Roberto LaForgia More »