Practising Listening with Empathy, by Thich Nat Hanh

Mustang girl and prayer flags. Photo © Lisa DaixYesterday, Sister True Virtue talked a little bit about the fourth precept concerning speaking and listening. This is a very deep practice. Listening is an art, and many people do not have the capacity for it, especially in the case of listening to the suffering of others. One reason for that is that in the listeners themselves, there is also much pain. The store consciousness is filled with pain and grief, and that is why it is so difficult for such people to listen to others. In order to be able to listen, we need to learn how to transform the suffering in ourselves.

Talking is also an art because if we have many internal formations within us and if we do not know the art of mindful breathing, then while speaking we shall be carried away by our feelings, our anger, and what we say may hurt people deeply. Both speaking and listening must, there­fore, be practised together with mindful breathing and working at transforming the internal forma­tions within us. Continue reading

Silent Promise, by Beopjeong Sunim

Buddhist monk, Mustang, photo © Lisa DaixIn a secular world that is becoming increasingly complex and heartless, we are becoming bound by such a sea of laws that we can hardly keep track of them. It’s difficult to understand why we need so many laws and regulations just to get on with our lives. When powerful laws are enacted and proclaimed, you would think that life would become smoother; but it seems that actually the opposite is happening, with more sensational and horrible crimes increasing day by day. We can’t help but envy the people of yesteryear who got by so well without so many laws.

When you’re walking in the mountains and you come to a fork in the path, you’ll often see indicators made from rock piles or branches to lead you the right way. It’s then that we become aware of the debt of gratitude we owe to the gentle people who set up the signs for us. They show us the right path without written or spoken words. These indicators, far from restricting us, make us both happy and grateful. Even promises, when based on such humanistic trust, are sacred. Continue reading

Suffering Ends, by Ajahn Sumedho

Photograph from the British Library #endangeredarchives project.The third Noble Truth is the truth of cessation. Not only do we let go of suffering and desire, we know when those things are not there. And this is a most important part of meditation practice, to really know when there is no suffering. Suffering ceases, and you are still alive, still aware, still breathing. It doesn’t mean that the world has ended, that everything has become blank; it means that the suffering has ceased. The suffering ends, and there is knowledge of the end of suffering. Continue reading

Solely from the Mind, by Kusan Sunim

Translated from the Korean by
Martine and Stephen Batchelor

Photo from British Library #endangeredarchives projectThe Buddhas of the three times arise solely from the mind. Likewise, all sentient beings arise solely from the mind. Furthermore, all things in the universe arise solely from the mind. And limitless space also arises solely from the mind. Thus the Buddhas and the sentient beings are not two. Likewise, what has form and what is formless are not two. Therefore, all of you gathered here today, say something about this one thing which is nondual! Have you awakened to this?

(The master strikes the base of the Dharma seat with his staff.)

The green pine and the green bamboo reveal the spring throughout the four seasons. White snow blending with the wind passes over the mountain behind. Continue reading

Awareness — Always delight in silence, by Acharya Shantideva

Awareness part two from a prose translation of the Fifth Chapter of Acharya Shantideva’s Bodhicharyavatara. Translated from the Tibetan edition by Stephen Batchelor

Stone Buddha Photo from #endangeredarchives @bl_eap, UlaanbaatarWhenever the desire to move or say something occurs, first examine the mind and only act when it is firm and still. Should attachment or a wish to express anger be present in your thoughts, then do not budge or say a word: remain like a piece of wood. Likewise, if you feel agitated or sarcastic, puffed up or conceited, spiteful, pretentious or full of deceit, when you long to praise yourself and put others down, if you feel contempt or aggression, then remain like a piece of wood. If you want to say something out of a wish to reject or reduce others, being intent on your own personal satisfaction and seeking to impress those around you, then stay like a piece of wood. When you are impatient, lazy and frightened or overbearing, garrulous and prejudiced, then too, be like a piece of wood! Continue reading

John Snelling

May 1992

By Stephen Batchelor

Everyone who knew John Snelling through his Buddhist connections soon learned that he had leukaemia. This disease, which was diagnosed in 1975, became his inseparable companion in dukkha. Although he raged against it, countering it with cocktails of chemicals and all manner of complementary care, in the end he let it run its course. ‘I want to die organically,’ he said with a wry smile in the weeks before his death, and restricted his treatment to herbs, massage and good meat dinners. Those of us around him expected that this time too, as so often before, he would bounce back to life. In the Bristol Cancer Centre it was said of John that he didn’t just recover from his bouts of cancer, he reincarnated.

Gill Farrer-Halls and John Snelling. Photo by Brian Beresford

Well, this time he didn’t — at least not in this world. Continue reading

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