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    Zen Teaching of Instantaneous Awakening

    A Classic Zen text written in the 8th century by Hui Hai. He was a student of Ma-tsu and from the same line as Hui Neng, Huang Po and Rinzai (Lin-chi).

  • Don't Take Your Life Personally

    Ajahn Sumedho urges us to trust in awareness and find out for ourselves what it is to experience genuine liberation from mental anguish and suffering.

  • Perfect Wisdom: Prajnaparamita Texts

    The Short Prajnaparamita Texts were composed in India between 100 BC and AD 600. They contain some of the most well known Buddhist texts such as The Perfection of Wisdom in 700 Lines, The Heart Sutra, and The Diamond Sutra.

  • Fingers and Moons, by Trevor Leggett

    Trevor Leggett points to the truth beyond words, beyond explanations and methods.

  • Experience Beyond Thinking: Practical Guide to Buddhist Meditation. An easy to follow guide to Buddhist meditation and the reflections of an ordinary practitioner. Used as a guide by meditation groups.

    An easy to follow guide to Buddhist meditation.

  • Understanding Karma and Rebirth A Buddhist Perspective

    Meditations and exercises to help us understand karma and rebirth and to live from the unborn moment.

  • The Old Zen Master by Trevor Leggett

    Stories, parables, and examples pointing to the spiritual implications of practical events in daily life.

  • Teachings of a Buddhist Monk

    Modern practical teachings from an American monk living within one of the oldest Buddhist traditions.

Renunciation and Simplicity, by Corrado Pensa

Virtue-parami, which in the Theravada tradition is called nekkhamma, usually translates as ‘renunciation’. Nekkhamma is one of the ten paramis, one of the ten virtues. The other nine are—generosity (dana), morality (sila), wisdom or discernment (panna), energy or right effort (viriya), patience (khanti), truthfulness (sacca), resolute determination (adhitthana), loving-kindness (metta), and equanimity (upekkha).

The 5 Buddhist Colours represent the 'Godai Nyorai' (五大如来 -5 Great Buddhas). Photo © @KyotoDailyPhotoOn the one hand we have meditation practice—the need to cultivate sitting and walking practice in its strictest form—and on the other hand we have the manifestation of dharma. The ten virtues (paramis) are related to manifesting peace, understanding and loving-kindness. So, there is the formal sitting and walking practice, and through these ten avenues (ten paramis) there is also the cultivation and manifestation of what is of value. I mention the ten paramis, but we are going to talk about only one of them—renunciation (nekkhamma). Continue reading

Discomfort without Aversion: A Little Miracle, by Corrado Pensa

Kyoto Kofuku-ji's open-mouthed Agyo. Photo © @KyotoDailyPhotoWhat is, in the classical Buddhist tradition, called papanca in Pali and prapanca in Sanskrit is usually translated as ’emotional-conceptual proliferation’. It has a very central role in the understanding of the dharma and in the practice of the dharma.

I want to quote from the Buddha himself. There is this passage where he says, ‘What one perceives, one thinks. Then one starts proliferating about what one has thought. And because of this, concepts and images attack him from all sides.’ Yes, it sounds familiar! On the other hand, the man or woman who is realised, the realised one, is described as someone who rejoices and delights in the state or in the field of nonproliferation, a condition in which the proliferation has evaporated, where there is freedom from papanca. The original meaning of papanca is ‘unfolding’, the constant unfolding, constant proliferation of our mind. Continue reading

Patient Awareness, by Corrado Pensa

There is this line in the gospel of Luke:
In your patience, you will own your heart. (1)

Buddhist deity Benzaiten (Sanskrit: Sarasvati), is depicted playing a biwa. Photo  © @KyotoDailyPhotoThe Greek word for patience also implies constancy, perseverance. It is a strong word. ‘Heart’ comes from ‘psyche’ and psyche also means life, mind, soul. So, in your patience, you will become one with your heart. I remember when I first read this line being struck by it. A word like ‘patience’ which is a rather grey word in our normal way of talking comes out rather luminous and strong from this passage.

Then, years later, I happened to read some important reflections on this topic by a well-known Christian author, Henry Nouwen and a couple of co­authors, in a book entitled Compassion (2). He says: ‘If we cannot be patient, we cannot become patient. We cannot be compassionate. If we ourselves are unable to suffer, we cannot suffer with others, which is the meaning of compassion.’ Now, in dharma language we may say: ‘If we are not open to our suffering, if we are not ready for a direct experience of our suffering, there is not much hope of having empathy for other people’s suffering.’ Henry Nouwen continues, underlining a couple of very crucial things: ‘Patience is the capacity to see, hear, touch, taste and smell as fully as possible the inner and outer events of our lives. It is to enter our lives with open eyes, ears, and hands, so that we really know what is happening. Patience is an extremely difficult discipline precisely because it counteracts our unreflective impulse to flee or to fight.’ And then he concludes: ‘Patience requires us to go beyond the choice between fleeing or fighting. It is the third and most difficult way. It calls for discipline because it goes against the grain of our impulses.’ (3) Continue reading

A Journey from Humiliation to Humility, by Corrado Pensa

Buddha Photo: © @BaganLodge I would like begin by reading a quote from Hubert Benoit, a French doctor who, amongst other things, studied, practised and experimented with Zen. He had a deep and creative way of conceptualising the core of the practice, and at one time he said, ‘All suffering, by humiliating us, modifies us. But this modification can be of two sorts that are radically opposed. If I struggle against humiliation it destroys me and increases my inner disharmony. But if I let it alone without opposing it, it builds up my inner harmony. So, when I start understanding,’ he says, ‘I begin to see that all my negative states, basically, are humiliations, and that up to this point I have taken steps to give them other names. Then I become capable of feeling myself humiliated and vexed without any other image within me, and I become capable of remaining there, motionless.’ He concludes, ‘From the moment I succeed in no longer moving in my humiliated state, I discover with surprise that there is the unique harbour of safety, the only place in the world in which I can find perfect security.’ Somewhere else he also speaks about ‘resting on the stone bed of discomfort’. Continue reading

Teachings of the Buddha to his son ­Rahula talk by Corrado Pensa

Reflecting on intention, desire and action. (33mins 2006)

Corrado PensaCorrado Pensa is co-founder and guiding teacher of the Association for Mindfulness Meditation in Rome.

The Pain of Attachment, by Corrado Pensa

 Wall painting, Sri lanka Photo: © Hazel WaghornThere are various ways of expressing the combination of light and warmth. There is a flame, and this flame means both light and warmth at the same time. Now, if this is the culmination of the path—this light and warmth—it has to have been there right from the beginning, at least in a potential form. This is why I tend to emphasise `affectionate’ awareness, `affectionate’ mindfulness, `accepting’ awareness, `accepting’ mindfulness. I think we shall spare ourselves a little suffering if we start right away to cultivate this gentleness in combination with the thing itself, and more and more we realise that they are not two separate things.

When we say `nonjudgemental’ awareness, `nonjudgemental’ mindfulness, we are talking about `accepting’ mindfulness. We can also say, I believe, that when we understand acceptance, truly understand it, at that point we truly understand awareness, and vice versa—once we really understand awareness, we understand and realise true acceptance. Acceptance is an intrinsic path to mindfulness, to awareness; as with wisdom and compassion—they are two sides of the same coin. So the big picture comprises wisdom and compassion; the small, initial picture has a little mindfulness which, to some extent, is accepting. It goes from there, but I think it has to be correct from the beginning. Continue reading

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