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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    Get Intimate with Your Emotions Paid Member

    If you want more joy, get as intimate as possible with all of your emotions, illuminating and honoring the basic energy of each one. There is a kind of joy that sooner or later emerges from such exploration, the joy of simply being present at the heart of whatever we are feeling. Such joy weeps as easily as it celebrates; its loss of face only deepens its presence.  From Emotional Intimacy: A Comprehensive Guide for Connecting with the Power of Your Emotions by Robert Augustus Masters, PhD © 2013 Robert Augustus Masters. Reprinted with permission of Sounds True. Illustration by Roberto La Forgia More »
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    Your Best Paid Member

    The best learning is realizing the truth of no-self.The best discipline is taming your mindstream. The best excellence is to have great altruism. The best instruction is the constant observation of your mind. The best antidote is the recognition that everything is devoid of intrinsic existence. The best conduct is that which is at odds with the mundane world. The best higher attainment is the lessening of your mental afflictions. The best sign of higher attainment is a decrease in your attachment. The best giving is the absence of possessiveness. The best morality is a tranquil mind. The best forbearance is to uphold humility. The best joyful perseverance is to be able to let go of the endeavor. The best concentration is the uncontrived mind. The best wisdom is to make no identification of “I am” with anything.  More »
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    Rain, the Snow, and Moon Paid Member

    Every day, priests minutely examine the LawAnd endlessly chant complicated sutras.Before doing that, though, they should learnHow to read the love letters sent by the wind and rain,     the snow and moon.  Trans. Sonja Arntzen. From Ikkyu and the Crazy Cloud Anthology: A Zen Poet of Medieval Japan. University of Tokyo Press. Illustration by Roberto La Forgia 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 »