Monday, February 28, 2011

relevance in today's world

In line with this aim it is essential for us that the Dhamma be addressed not only to its original and primary task of indicating the timeless path to deliverance, but also to those vexing existential problems posed by the particular circumstances of our age. Prominent among these is the widespread moral and spiritual deterioration evident in so many spheres of human life. For increasing numbers of people both East and West, cynicism, skepticism and a narrow fixation on material goals have toppled traditional views and values without offering any satisfactory alternatives to replace them. Thus, while our sciences unlock the most obscure secrets of nature and yield its powers to our control, we find ourselves beset with a sense of inner poverty, destitute of those fundamental guiding principles which can give a deeper and richer meaning to our lives.

At the root of our current spiritual disorder lies a distorted conception of value which locates the ultimate end of human activity in the satisfaction of personal desire. Tacitly accepted and adhered to without reflective awareness, this thesis has become the dominant working basis for contemporary civilization. Mobilizing individuals, ethnic groups and nations alike, it draws them into an enervating chase after the achievement of power, wealth and pleasure, and pits them against one another in a struggle for supremacy marked either by cool suspicion or by vehement hate. Given a creed of self-fulfillment in an age of declining moral vigor, it is not astonishing that in the midst of plenty we witness all around us a frantic search for instant gratification and a rising tide of destructiveness unconstrained by even the least human sympathy.

To remedy this disturbing situation, moralistic preaching will not suffice, nor can much be expected from economic, social and political reforms isolated from more fundamental changes. For at its core our crisis is a crisis of consciousness. Its real origins go deeper than our institutions, deeper than our cultural norms, deeper than our avowed motives and goals. Its origins lie in the hidden strata of the mind, in the breeding place of those tumultuous emotional and volitional forces which the Buddha summed up in the three "roots of evil" — greed, hatred and delusion.

What is most crucial, therefore, if there is to be any change in the direction of the world, is a change in those who make up the world, that is, in ourselves. To achieve our own genuine welfare and effectively promote the welfare of others, we require the acumen to distinguish clearly what is truly in our interest and what may be immediately pleasurable but ultimately harmful; and we require too the stamina to undertake the work of liberating our minds from the bonds of greed, hatred and delusion. Admittedly, the number of those who will see the need for inward change and make the appropriate effort will always be small. However, the difficulty does not annul the necessity. For those of clear vision who are responsive to the call of the good there can be no choice but to take up the long hard task of self-transformation.

Bhikkhu Bodhi

Continue reading:
Access to Insight

Saturday, February 12, 2011

happiest and saddest

“Are you happiest and saddest right now that you’ve ever been?” “Of course I am.” “Why?” “Because nothing makes me happier and nothing makes me sadder than you.”

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

Friday, February 11, 2011

only one you love the most

You may love many people in this world,
but there is only one you love the most.


Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Maha-mangala Sutta: highest protection

I have heard that at one time the Blessed One was staying in Savatthi at Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's monastery. Then a certain deva, in the far extreme of the night, her extreme radiance lighting up the entirety of Jeta's Grove, approached the Blessed One. On approaching, having bowed down to the Blessed One, she stood to one side. As she stood to one side, she addressed him with a verse.

Many devas and human beings
give thought to protection,
desiring well-being.
Tell, then, the highest protection.
The Buddha:
Not consorting with fools,
consorting with the wise,
paying homage to those worthy of homage:
This is the highest protection.

Living in a civilized land,
having made merit in the past,
directing oneself rightly:
This is the highest protection.

Broad knowledge, skill,
well-mastered discipline,
well-spoken words:
This is the highest protection.

Support for one's parents,
assistance to one's wife and children,
consistency in one's work:
This is the highest protection.

Giving, living in rectitude,
assistance to one's relatives,
deeds that are blameless:
This is the highest protection.

Avoiding, abstaining from evil;
refraining from intoxicants,
being heedful of the qualities of the mind:
This is the highest protection.

Respect, humility,
contentment, gratitude,
hearing the Dhamma on timely occasions:
This is the highest protection.

Patience, compliance,
seeing contemplatives,
discussing the Dhamma on timely occasions:
This is the highest protection.

Austerity, celibacy,
seeing the Noble Truths,
realizing Unbinding:
This is the highest protection.

A mind that, when touched
by the ways of the world,
is unshaken, sorrowless, dustless, at rest:
This is the highest protection.

Everywhere undefeated
when acting in this way,
people go everywhere in well-being:
This is their highest protection.

Translated from Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
Access to Insight

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

taking stock of oneself - bhikkhu bodhi

Though in principle the Buddhist path leads straight and unerringly from bondage to freedom, when we apply it to ourselves it often seems to take a tortuous route as imposed by the twists and turns of our own contorted mental topography. Unless we have exceptionally mature wholesome roots, we cannot expect to approach the goal "as the crow flies," soaring unhindered through the quick and blissful skyways of the jhanas and higher insights. Instead we must be prepared to tread the path at ground level, moving slowly, steadily and cautiously through the winding mountain roads of our own minds. We begin at the inevitable point of departure — with the unique constellation of personal qualities, habits and potentials that we bring with us into the practice. Our ingrained defilements and obstinate delusions, as well as our hidden reserves of goodness, inner strength and wisdom — these are at once the material out of which the practice is forged, the terrain to be passed through, and the vehicle that takes us to our destination.

Confidence in the Buddhist path is a prerequisite for persisting on this journey. Yet it often happens that though we may be fully convinced of the liberating efficacy of the Dhamma, we stumble along perplexed as to how we can apply the Dhamma fruitfully to ourselves. One major step toward reaping the benefits of Dhamma practice consists in making an honest assessment of one's own character. If we are to utilize effectively the methods the Buddha has taught for overcoming the mind's defilements, we first must take stock of those particular defilements that are prevalent in our individual makeup. It will not suffice for us to sit back and console ourselves with the thought that the path leads infallibly to the end of greed, hate and delusion. For the path to be effective in our own practice, we have to become familiar with our own persistent greeds, hates and delusions as they crop up in the round of daily life. Without this honest confrontation with ourselves, all our other pursuits of Dhamma may be to no avail and can actually lead us astray. Though we may gain extensive knowledge of the Buddhist scriptures, clarify our view and sharpen our powers of thought, invest so many hours on the meditation cushion and walkway, if we do not attend to the blemishes in our characters, these other achievements, far from extricating the defilements, may instead only go to reinforce them.

Yet, though honest self-assessment is one of the most vital steps in Dhamma practice, it is also one of the most difficult. What makes it so difficult is the radically new perspective that must be adopted to undertake an investigation of oneself and the dense barriers that must be penetrated to arrive at truthful self-understanding. In attempting to assess ourselves we are no longer observing an external entity which we can treat as an adventitious object to be evaluated in terms of our subjective purposes. We are observing instead the seat of observation itself, that most elusive center from which we gaze out upon the world, and we are doing so in a mode which casts all its motives and projects in a critical light. To enter this domain of inquiry is to run smack up against our very sense of personal identity, and thus to have to pierce the thick screens of delusion and blind emotivity which keep that sense of identity intact.

Continue reading here at Access to Insight:
Taking stock of oneself by Bhikkhu Bodhi

Monday, February 07, 2011


Be patient with all that is unresolved in your heart.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Wednesday, February 02, 2011


Originally uploaded by madsolitaire
I wish you much love, joy, laughter, bliss,
none of which i could give you
there is nothing i would not have given you.


Tuesday, February 01, 2011

In memory of Ajahn Maha Boowa 1913-2011

The Venerable Ajahn Maha Boowa, sometimes spelled Maha Bua, was the abbot of the Way Pa Bahn Tahd, a monastery in the forest of North-East Thailand. He passed away around 3.15 am (local time), on January 29, 2011. He was 98.

Article at Buddhist Channel