Archive for March, 2006


Renunciation by Tsenshab Serkong Rinpoche

The Sanskrit word Dharma, chö in Tibetan, means to hold, or to uphold. What is upheld, or maintained? The elimination of suffering and the attainment of happiness. Dharma does this not only for ourselves, but for all beings.

The sufferings we experience are of two types: those immediately visible to us as humans, and those we cannot see without psychic powers. The former include the pain involved in the birth process, the unpleasantness of occasionally becoming sick, the misery experienced with growing old and aging, and the terror of death.

The sufferings that come after death are not visible to an ordinary person. We might think that after we die we will probably be reborn as a human being. However, this is not necessarily the case. There is no logical reason for us to assume that such an evolution will occur. Nor is it the case that after we die we will not take rebirth at all.

As for the particular type of rebirth we will take, this is something very difficult to know, something not presently within our sphere of knowledge. If we generate positive karma during this life, it will naturally follow that we will take happy forms of rebirth in the future. Conversely, if we create mostly negative karma, we will not take a happy rebirth, but will experience great difficulties in lower states of being. This is certain. Rebirth functions that way. If we plant a seed of wheat, what grows is a wheat plant. If we plant a seed of rice, a rice plant is produced. Similarly, by creating negative karma we plant seeds of rebirth in one of the three lower states as a hell creature, a hungry ghost or an animal.

There are four different states or realms of hells: hot, cold, neighbouring and occasional hells. To further subdivide these, there are eight different hot hells. The first of these is known as the Reviving Hell. This is the one of least suffering, relatively speaking. To understand the extent of the misery experienced here, the pain of a person caught in a great fire would be very slight in comparison with that of beings in the first hot hell. Each hell below the Reviving Hell has an increasingly intense degree of misery.

Although the sufferings of hell creatures and hungry ghosts may not be visible to us, those of the animals can be seen with our eyes. If we wonder what would happen if we ourselves were to be reborn as animals, we can just look at those around us and think what it would be like to have their conditions. Dharma is what holds us back and protects us from experiencing the suffering of these lower rebirths.

The entire wheel of rebirth, the whole of cyclic existence, has the nature of suffering. Dharma is what safeguards us from all samsaric suffering. Moreover, the mahayana Dharma, the teachings of the great vehicle, brings protection not only to ourselves but to all living beings.

In Buddhism we hear a lot about the three jewels of refuge—Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. The first of these includes all the fully enlightened beings who teach the Dharma. Buddha Shakyamuni, who first turned the wheel of Dharma at Varanasi by teaching the four noble truths, is most significant to us. The last of these four truths—the truth of the path—is the Dharma to be practised in order to achieve liberation. This is the refuge object called the Dharma jewel.

Dharma practice entails two things: recognizing the root of samsaric suffering and eradicating this root. What is the root of cyclic existence? It is the grasping for a truly existent self and for the true existence of phenomena. We need to develop a repulsion for this grasping which brings us all our sufferings. We must develop an understanding of the antidote to grasping at true existence. This antidote is the wisdom of selflessness or identitylessness. It is this understanding of selflessness which will bring us liberation from suffering.

The sufferings we experience in cyclic existence do not occur without a cause. They are caused by the delusions and the karma created by the delusions. The root of all delusion and karma is the grasping for a self. When we understand this, we aspire to obtain the antidote to this grasping for a self. Why have we not yet developed the antidote in our mindstream? Why don’t we understand selflessness? One reason is that we are not sufficiently aware of death and impermanence.

The only possible outcome of birth is death. We are inevitably going to die. There is no living being whose life did not end with death. People try many methods to prevent death’s occurrence, but it is impossible. No medicine can cure us of death.

Just to think, "I’m going to die," isn’t really the correct way to contemplate death. Of course, everyone is going to die, but merely thinking about this fact is not very powerful. It is not the proper method. In the same way, just thinking of the fact that one is going to disintegrate and degenerate, that one’s body is going to decompose, is not enough. What we have to think about is how to prevent our downfall.

If we think about the fear that comes at the time of death and about how to eliminate that fear, then our meditation on death will be effective. People who have accumulated a great deal of negative karma during their lives become very frightened at the time of death. They cry, tears run down their cheeks, their mouths dribble, they excrete in their clothing and are completely overwhelmed. These are clear signs of the suffering that occurs at the time of death because of fear caused by negative actions performed during life. Alternatively, if during our lifetime we withhold ourselves from committing negative actions, the time of death is very easy for us to face. The experience is one of joy, like that of a child going home to its parents. If we have purified ourselves, we can die happily. By refraining from the ten negative ways and cultivating their opposites, the ten virtues, our death will be easy and as a result we won’t have to experience rebirth in a condition of suffering. We can be assured of rebirth in more fortunate states. By planting the seeds of medicinal plants we obtain trees with medicinal powers, by planting the seeds of poisonous trees we produce only harmful fruits. If we plant the seeds of virtuous actions on our consciousness we will experience happiness in future rebirths. We will have fortunate situations both mentally and physically. This basic teaching of the Dharma—avoid the ten non-virtuous deeds and cultivate the ten virtues—is given not only in Buddhism but also in many other religions, including Christianity.

How should we contemplate death and impermanence? As mentioned previously, just thinking, "I’m going to die," is not very beneficial. We should think, "If I have created any of the ten non-virtuous actions, at death I will have a great deal of fear and suffering to face, and as a result I will evolve to a rebirth of intense misfortune. On the other hand, if during my life I have created virtues, at death I will not experience fear or suffering and will be reborn in a more fortunate state." That is the correct way to contemplate death.

This meditation should not be merely the gloomy, pessimistic thought, "I’m going to die and there is nothing I can do about it." Rather we should think in terms of what will happen when we die. "Where will I go after death? What sort of causes have I created? Can I make my death a happy one? How? Can I make my future rebirths happy? How?"

When contemplating future rebirths we should remember that there is no place in cyclic existence which is reliable. No matter what body is obtained, it must eventually pass away. We read in history of people who have lived for a hundred or even a thousand years. Yet no matter how fantastic these accounts are, there is no case of a person who did not eventually have to die. Any type of samsaric body that we gain is subject to death.

Nor is there a place to where we can go in order to escape death. No matter where we are, when the time comes, we will have to die. Then no amount of medicine, mantras or practice will help. Surgical operations may cure certain types of diseases within our body, but there are none that can prevent death.

No matter what type of rebirth we gain, it will be subject to death. The process is ongoing. Contemplating the long-range effects of our actions and how the process of birth, life, death and rebirth is continuous will help us generate much positive karma.

Even though we sometimes plan to practise the Dharma, we usually plan to do so tomorrow, or the day after. However, no-one can tell when we will die. If we had a guarantee that we definitely had one hundred years left to live, we would have free space in which to arrange our practice. But there is not the slightest certainty when we will die. To put off our practice is very foolish. Some humans die in the womb even before they are born, others die as small babies before they learn to walk. It doesn’t follow that you are going to live a long life.

Our bodies are very fragile. If they were made of stone or iron perhaps they might give some feeling of stability. But if we investigate we will see that the human body is very weak. It is very easy for something to go wrong with it. It is like a delicate wrist-watch made from countless tiny and fragile parts. It is not something to be trusted. There are many circumstances which can cause our death: food which has become poisonous, the bite of a tiny insect or even the prick of a poisonous thorn. Such small conditions can kill us. The food and liquid that we use to extend our life can become the circumstances which end it. There is no certainty at all as to when we will die, or what circumstances will cause our death.

Even if we feel certain that we will live for a hundred years, many years of that span have passed already and we haven’t accomplished much. We approach death like a man sleeping in a railway carriage, constantly getting closer and closer to the destination yet unaware of the process. There is little we can do to stop this process. We just constantly come ever-closer to death.

No matter how much money, jewelry, houses or clothes we have accumulated during our life, it will make no difference whatsoever at the time of our death. When we die we will have to go empty-handed. Not even the tiniest material object can be taken with us. The body itself must be left behind. The body and the mind separate and the mindstream continues by itself. Not only is it impossible to take a possession with us, we cannot even take our body.
What accompanies the consciousness after death? If we have to leave our body, our friends and all our possessions, is there any helper or anything which accompanies our consciousness to the future life?

There is something that follows the consciousness after death: the karmic imprints that we have accumulated during this lifetime. If we have committed any of the ten negative karmic actions, a black karmic debt will accompany the mindstream as it evolves into the future rebirth. By killing other beings, stealing others’ possessions or indulging in sexual misconduct, black karmic debts from these negative actions of the body are placed on the mindstream. By lying, slandering others, causing disunity amongst people, speaking meaninglessly or harming others with words, the black karmic debts of these negative actions of speech will travel with us at the time of death. If we have had many covetous thoughts, often wishing to have the possessions of others; if we have had ill-will towards anyone, wishing that they be harmed or that something bad would happen to them; or if we have held distorted views, such as ‘there are no past or future lives,’ ‘there is no such thing as cause and effect,’ ‘there’s no such thing as refuge,’ these non-virtuous actions of mind will generate a black karmic debt which travels with and directs our minds into future rebirths.

The reverse is also true. If we have performed virtuous actions and turned away from creating negativity, the karmic seeds of such positive energy will travel on our mindstreams and produce better circumstances in our future lives.

When we really think about the situation we are in, we will resolve to try in every way to generate positive karma and eliminate its opposite. We should try to cleanse ourselves of as much negativity as possible, not leaving even the smallest karmic debt to be repaid in our future lives.

We need to look at what type of reactions can happen within the law of cause and effect. There is a story of a person who had very many good qualities, but was harsh in his speech. He abused another, saying, "You talk like a dog." As a result he himself was reborn as a dog five hundred times. A seemingly small action can have a very large result.

Similarly, a very small positive action can produce a great result. There is the story of a young child who made a humble offering to the Buddha and as a result was reborn as the great king Ashoka, who built thousands of Buddhist monuments and performed countless sublime activities.

Contemplating the various types of non-virtue that we have committed and their results is a very effective way of ensuring our welfare and happiness. If we think of the suffering we ourselves will have to experience as a result of our negativity and thus give birth to a very strong wish not to have to experience this type of misery, we have developed what is called ‘renunciation.’

Acquainting ourselves with this type of thinking in itself is a form of meditation. First we should develop mindfulness of our own suffering; then we should extend this mindfulness to all living beings. Consider how all beings do not wish to have any suffering, yet are caught in a suffering predicament. This type of thinking leads us to compassion. If we do not develop the wish to be free from all our own suffering, how can we develop the wish for other beings to be free from theirs? We can put an end to all our own suffering, yet this is not ultimately beneficial. We should extend this wish to all living beings, who also desire happiness. We can train our mind and develop the wish for everyone to be completely parted from their sufferings. This is a much wider and more beneficial way of thinking.

Why should we be concerned with other living beings? Because we receive so much from others. For instance, the milk that we drink comes from the kindness of the cows and the buffaloes, the warm clothing that protects us from the cold and wind comes from the wool of sheep and goats, and so forth. These are just a few examples of why we should try to find a method that can eliminate their sufferings.

No matter what type of practice we do—the recitation of mantra or any kind of meditation—we should always retain the thought, "May this benefit all living beings." This will naturally bring benefit to ourselves as well. Our ordinary life situations can give us an appreciation of this. For example, if someone is very selfish and always works for his own gain, he will not really be liked by others. On the other hand, someone who is kind and always thinks of helping others is usually liked by everybody.

The thought to be developed in our mindstream is, "May everybody be happy and may nobody suffer." We must try to incorporate this into our own thinking through recollecting it again and again. This can be extremely beneficial. Beings who in the past developed this type of thinking are now great buddhas, bodhisattvas or saints; all the truly great men of the world based themselves on it. How wonderful if we could try to generate it ourselves!


zen stories

can trees become buddhas?

Japanese Zen Master Chen-kuan studied the doctrine of the Tien-tai School for six years, after which, he converted to the teachings of Ch’an. Having studied the teaching for seven years, Chen-kuan went to China and traveled for twelve years through famous mountains to visit Ch’an masters and to practice meditation.

After being in the Ch’an School for more than twenty years, he finally perceived his true nature. He then packed his belongings and returned to his own country.

In the cities of Kamakura and Nara, he disseminated the Ch’an teaching far and wide. Buddhists from all over came swarming to seek instruction and to practice meditation under his guidance. They all posed questions which were difficult for him to answer. These included:

  1. What is one’s Buddha-nature?
  2. What was the meaning of the Patriarch’s coming from the West?
  3. What was the meaning of Master Chao-chou’s ambivalent answers when he was asked whether a dog had the Buddha-nature?

Although he was asked many questions, Master Chen-kuan always kept his eyes closed and refused to answer even one of them. Some people knew that the Master did not like to discuss kung-ans with others. Hence, people discussed amongst themselves but did not improve their understanding of the kung-ans.

One day, Master Tao-wen, who was a scholar from the Tien-tai School, went to visit Chen-kuan and paid his respect. Tao-wen was about fifty years old at the time and had been studying Tien-tai doctrine for more than thirty years. He told Chen-kuan with great sincerity, "I’ve studied the Lotus Sutra of the Tien-tai School ever since I was a child, but there’s still one point I could never understand."

Chen-kuan straightforwardly retorted, "The Lotus Sutra is complex and profound. It is comprehensive and flawless. People who read it are supposed to have many questions. Yet you only have one! What is your question?"

Tao-wen declared, "It states in the Lotus Sutra: ‘The sentient and the non-sentient will both attain prajna.’ This implies that trees, grass, and flowers can all become Buddhas. Is this possible?"

Chen-kuan replied, "Well, in the past thirty years, you’ve been worrying about whether trees, grass, and flowers can attain Buddhahood. What benefit will you get from knowing that? You should have concerned yourself with the question of whether you can become Buddha."

Tao-wen was startled by this response. Finally, he said, "I’ve never thought of this question. May I ask, how can I become a Buddha?"

Chen-kuan answered, "You said that you only had one question, so you’ll have to answer the second question yourself."

It is not important whether trees, grass, or flowers can become Buddhas. This is because the earth, mountains, rivers, trees, flowers, and all other substances originate from the same source as our own nature. If we can become Buddhas, than all phenomena will naturally become Buddhas. We should probe the root of things rather than concentrating on the ramifications, otherwise we will never enter the Path. Ch’an immediately forces us to discern our own nature rather than being distracted by other matters.


life or death, let it be

Before Ch’an Master Pao-fu passed away he told his disciples, "I have been feeling weak lately. I suspect that it is almost time for me to go."

Upon hearing this, some of his disciples said, "Master, you still look very healthy."

Others implored, "Master, we still need your guidance," while some urged, "Master, please stay for the sake of all beings."

One disciple asked, "Master, when it is time for you to go, will you go or will you stay?"

Master Pao-fu asked, "which do you think would be better?"

The disciple answered without hesitation, "Whether it is life or death, let it be!"

The Master started laughing, "When did you steal the words that I was going to use?"

Upon saying this, Pao-fu passed away. 

To the average person, life is something to be happy about, whereas death is lamentable. To a realized Buddhist practitioner life is not something to be happy about, nor is death a cause for lament. Life and death are two sides of the same coin. The cycle of life and death is part of the law of Nature.

Many Ch’an practitioners have said that life and death have nothing to do with them. A Ch’an practitioner is neither greedy for life nor afraid of death but regards both life and death with a liberated attitude.


don’t worry about it

An attractive female decided to practice Ch’an so that she could become enlightened. Hence, she went to a Ch’an master and asked, "Master, what should I do to attain enlightenment?"

In ancient times, Ch’an masters employed many techniques to instruct others in the practice of Ch’an. Sometimes, they would teach someone to meditate on kung-ans such as "Who Is Meditating on the Buddha?" and "What Was My Original Face before My Parents Gave Birth to Me?"

The Master thought to himself: "Such an attractive young lady will encounter ample obstacles that could hinder her practice. How can she practice Ch’an so that she can become enlightened?" Then he taught her to recite, "Let it be. don’t worry about it!" The purpose of giving the lady such statements to recite was to help her concentrate so that she could see her own nature.

The lady was very serious and practiced diligently. One day, someone told her that her boyfriend had come to see her. She replied, "Let him be. Don’t wory about him!"

Soon after, a university that she had applied to informed her of her admittance. She only said, "Let it be. don’t worry about it!"

Her mother called and said, "You have won the lottery jackpot. "

She exclaimed, "Let it be. Don’t worry about it!"

She overcame one temptation after another. One day, she came across an old photograph of her grandmother and herself when she was yound. Seeing that the young girl in the picture was actually herself, she thought: "Eventually I will die and be buried just like my grandmother." Thinking such thoughts, she finally overcame the hindrance of birth and death and was no longer afraid of them. By understanding the impermanence of birth and death, she realized the bliss of no birth and no death. Her understanding of this truth is more valuable than anything else in this world.


high & far

The monastic students of the Long-hu Ch’an Monastery were in the middle of copying a painting of a dragon fighting with a tiger on the wall. The dragon in the painting was hovering under the clouds; the tiger was crouched on a mountain summit, poised as if about to pounce. Although it had been revised numerous times, there invariably seemed to be something missing in the flow of action in the painting. Quite by chance, at this time Ch’an master Wu-te returned from outside. The students requested the Ch’an master to make a quick assessment of what they had done.

After looking at it, Ch’an master Wu-te said: "The outlook of the dragon and the tiger hasn’t been painted too badly, but how much do you know about the nature of the dragon and the tiger? What you should know is that before the dragon attacks its head must shrink backwards, just as when the tiger is pouncing upwards its head is bound to press downwards. The more the dragon’s neck is bent backwards, and the closer the tiger’s head is to the ground, the faster they will be able to rush forward and the higher they’ll be able to jump."

The students were overjoyed to receive such an instruction, exclaimed: "The teacher really hit the nail on the head! Not only did we paint the dragon’s head too far forward, but the tiger’s head is also too high. No wonder we felt there was something lacking in the depiction of the action."

Ch’an master Wu-te seized this opportunity to teach by saying: "In personal conduct, as well as in taking care of affairs, while learning Ch’an and cultivating oneself religiously, one must prepare by taking a step back in order to rush ahead even farther, reflecting humbly so that one can climb even higher."

Apparently not completely following what was being told, the students asked: "Teacher, how is one who steps back able to move forward? How is one who humbles himself able to reach higher?"

In response, Ch’an master Wu-te then solemnly said: "Listen to my Ch’an poem :

By hand, plant the entire field with green seedlings;
Bowing my head, I see heaven appear in the water.
One’s body and spirit must be clean and pure before one can practice the way.
Taking a backward step is actually a forward move.

"Are you all able to comprehend?"

By now all the students finally understood. 

Self-respect is part of the character of a Ch’an practitioner. They are independent, full of pride and distant like a dragon raising its head and tiger wrestling with its foe; however, sometimes they are also extremely modest, like a dragon shrinking back and a tiger lowering its head. This explains perfectly what is meant by progressing when one should progress; yielding when one should yield; raising up high when it’s proper to be high; lowering oneself when one ought to be low. In other words, one should go forward or backward as reason demands it, and raise up high or lie low when it’s the proper time for it. Dragons are the spirit of the beasts and tigers are the kings. Those who practice Ch’an are the sages among the people, taking backward motion as progress and humility as their loftiness. Is this not how it should be?


the hundred parables sutra

*this sutra was literally translated. therefore, stupid means ignorant or unaware.

Once upon a time there was a stupid man who was about to give a party. He wanted to store up milk for his guests.

"If I milk the cow beforehand every day, he thought, little by little, there will be too much of milk and will not be enough space to store it and it may even spoil. It would be better to let it remain inside of the cow. I’ll milk the cow right away at the time of the party."

He then separated the cow from the calf and tied them up apart. A month later, he actually gave the reception. He tried to milk the cow, but the milk had run dry. Some guests got annoyed and others laughed at him.

So are the idiotic fellows who want to give alms at once but prefer to wait until they possess great wealth. It usually happens that, before they can scrape together enough money, it is seized by the country officers or taken away by robbers and thieves or by fire and flood. It also happens that, due to their sudden demise, they are not in time for giving alms.

This is just like the story of the stupid man who stored up milk.



Once upon a time there was a rustic who stole garments from the palace and then escaped to a remote place. The king sent men to search for him in all directions. Finally, he was arrested and taken to the king who accused him of theft and asked him where he had got the clothes. The rustic answered that they belonged to his grandfather. The king then ordered him to put them on. He did not know how to wear them. He put on his arms what should be worn on his legs. What he ought to have on his waist, he put on his head. Seeing this, the king summoned his ministers for consultation on the matter.

"If the clothes belonged to your grandfather, you should know how to wear them. How can you wear them in all wrong ways? It’s certain that they are not your old clothes. You have stolen them," said the king.

Figuratively speaking, here the king is like Buddha; the valuable clothes, the Buddhist teachings; the stupid rustic, the heretic.

A heretic, who has eavesdropped on Buddhism, makes it for his own. He then misinterprets it, because he does not know the real meaning of its teachings.

This heretic is like the rustic who stole the king’s valuable clothes without knowing how to wear them properly and put them on in all the wrong ways.


Once a group of people sat in a house commenting on someone as being of good virtue except for two faults:

First, he was quick- tempered. Second, he was impulsive.

At the time, this man happened to pass by the door and heard the comment. He entered the house, grabbed the man who had criticized him, and started to beat him.

Thereupon one bystander asked why he beat the man.

He replied, "When did I ever lose my temper or act impulsively? This man said: I often did so. That’s why I have beaten him."

The bystander pointed out, "Your action at once demonstrates that you have often lost your temper and acted impulsively. Why do you still want to conceal your character from others?"

This man who resents to having his faults exposed, often leads people to lay all the blame for the stupidity and foolishness on him.

People, who are addicted to drinking and other debaucheries, when scolded by others, strongly hate their critics in turn. Moreover, they try desperately to justify themselves by bringing forward all sorts of excuses. Those men are just like that stupid man who disliked hearing about his faults discussed.



Once there were five men who together bought a maid to whom one of them said, "Get my clothes washed."

Another man also told her to do the same thing. But the maid said he would wash for whoever gave her clothes first. Angrily the second man said, "Since I have bought you with others, how can you wash only for the first one who gave the elder?"

Then he beat her ten strokes with a whip. Thus she was whipped as much by each of the five masters.

So are the five components of human bodies, which are the sources of annoyances. They whip the sentient beings with birth giving, old age, sickness, death and numerous other miseries.



Once upon a time, there was a Ksatriya of the Makara Kingdom who fell seriously ill, and was aware of the fatal hour. To his two sons he ordered, "After my death, divide between the two of you evenly my effects and money."

After his death, the two sons followed their father’s will. But the elder brother complained against the younger of unfairness in their shares. An old man nearby said, "Let me teach you how to divide equally your father’s fortune."

"How!" they asked.

The old man replied, "Cut all the valuable garments into two parts. Then break everything else into two equal parts, such as tray, bottle, bowl, dish, money and so forth."

People laughed at his suggestion. Such folly is just like those heretics who use one-sided method of separate answer to all questions.

There are four ways to answer questions as follows:

  1. Affirmative answer.
    For instance: All human beings are mortal
  2. Separate answer
    For instance: The dead will be reborn.
    This should be answered separately. Those who have no desires at all will not be reborn. Those who have desires will be reborn.
  3. Reversal question and answer.
    For example, someone asks: Are all human beings supreme ones?" This can be questioned reversely as follows: "Are you referring to the Three Paths of Transmigration or to the host of Devas?
    If you are referring to the former, I should say human beings are supreme. If the latter, I should say human beings are not equals to Devas.
  4. No answers to questions
    If you ask the fourteen difficult questions, such as whether the world has limit or whether human beings have any beginnings or ends.

Pretending to be wise, the ignorant heretics divide the four ways of answering questions by only using the separate answer, just like the stupid man giving advice to the two sons to divide all effects and money into two parts.



Brahmans say that the Great Brahma was both father of the world and creator of all things. One of the Great Brahma’s disciples once said he also had the power to create things. He was too stupid to be wise.

To the great Brahma, he said, "I can create everything."

The Great Brahrna replied, "Don’t talk like that. You can’t. Since you don’t listen to me, I wonder how you do it."

After seeing what his disciple had creased, the Great Brahma said, "The man’s head that you have made is too big and the neck too thin. The hands are too long and the arms too bony. The feet are too small and the legs too fat. It looks like a Pisacah devil."

Through the Great Brahma’s words, we should realize that human beings are created by their own deeds resulting from Karma and not by the power of the Great Brahma.

Buddha’s preaching is not ambiguous. As they preach the Eightfold Noble Path, they cling neither to the view of total annihilation nor that of permanence. On the contrary, the heretics do cling to the view of annihilation and permanence. They cheat the world by performing ceremonies and creating images. What they preach really is not Buddhism.



Once upon a time, there was a troupe of actors from Cadhara Kingdom, rambling in different parts of the country giving performances due to a famine. They passed the Pala New Mountain where evil demons and men-eater Raksas had been found. The troupe had to lodge in the mountain where it was windy and cold. They slept with the fire on. One of them who were chilly wore Raksa demon’s costume and sat near the fire when another actor awoke and saw him. He ran away without looking closely at him. In general panic, the whole troupe got up and ran away. The one who wore the Raksa garment, not realizing what was happening, followed them.

Seeing he was behind them, all the actors got more frightened to do them harm. They crossed rivers and mountains, and jumped into ditches and gullies. All got wounded in addition to the great fear they suffered. They did not realize that he was not a demon until daybreak. So are all the common people. Those who happen to be in the midst of the misfortune of famine, do not spare themselves trouble to go far away to seek for the sublime teaching of the Four Transcendental Realities of Nirvana, namely eternity, bliss, personality and purity. However, they cling to their egos which are nothing more than five components of a human being. Because of this, they are flowing back again and again through transmigration. Pursued by temptation, they are out of sorts in falling into the ditch of the Three Evil Paths. Only when the night of transmigration is ended, does the wisdom appear once again. Also only at this moment can one perceive the five components of a human being have no real ego.



Once upon a time, there was a group of frontiersmen who had never seen a donkey before. Thus they could not identify it. They were told that its milk was delicious. It happened that they found a male donkey and they tried to milk it. They began their wrangling about apprehending it.

One seized its head: another, its ears; the third, its tail; the fourth, its feet; and finally the fifth, its penis. All wanted to be the first to drink its milk. The one who grasped the donkey’s penis called out that he could get milk there from. Then he began to extract. Finally, this group of people felt tired and bored, for they could not get what they had wanted. They got nothing in return, despite of their effort. They were all laughed at by the people at large.

This is also held to be true with the common heretics.

The heretics who learn their religious faith from some inadequate sources, might lead to illusions giving rise to all kinds of heterodox views such as to go naked, to fast, to jump into precipice or go through fire. With all these kinds of heterodox views, they fall to the evil paths, like those stupid men seeking in vain for milk from a male donkey.



Once upon a time, there were a man and his son traveling together. The son got into the woods and was bitten by a bear. Scratches were all over his body. Being in a difficult situation, he fled to his father. Seeing his son’s wounds, the father was astonished and asked, "How did you get wounded?"

The son replied, "There was a long-haired monster that bit me."

The father grasped bows and arrows and went to the woods where he saw a longhaired supernatural being. When he was about to shoot at him, a bystander said, "Why do you want to shoot at this, since he is innocent? You should punish the guilty."

This is also held to be true with the stupid of the world.

People offended by an immoral monk in his religious robe, are apt to do the worst harm to all good and virtuous monks. This is just like the father wanting to be revenged on the supernatural man for his son’s bites by a bear.



Once upon a time, there were two doves, male and female, which lived together in a nest. They filled their nest with fruit seed that grew up during the fall. Later, the fruit dried and shrank to fill but half of the nest. The male was in a temper and said to the female, "We have been working hard together for the fruit. Now you have eaten it alone. It’s half of what it was.

The female replied, "I haven’t eaten it alone. For the fruit has shrunk by itself."

Incredulous, the male angrily said, "If it has not been you alone who had eaten, how could it grow so much less now?"

Then he pecked the female to death. A few days later, it happened to rain heavily. The fruit got moist and grew to its former size. On seeing it, the male regretfully realized that she really had not eaten and that he had wrongly killed her. He then cried bitterly and called out to her: "Where have you gone?"

This is also held to be true with the common people. Leading a disorderly life, people indulge in wild pleasures. They think nothing of impermanence when breaking major commandments. It will be too late for them to repent afterwards. It only remains for them to give vent to their sadness with sighs like the stupid dove.


living meditation, living insight- Dr. Thynn Thynn

Staying with More Moments

P: Sometimes it’s a luxury to be mindful of a task with undivided attention. I only get frustrated if I try to be mindful of a task when my young children demand my attention. It seems like the only thing to do is to redirect my attention to the children and do the task on automatic pilot.

Thynn: I like your phrase "automatic pilot"! Again, I have to emphasise that being mindful is only a means to practice focusing. Don’t compete with yourself. What you choose to pay attention to is entirely circumstantial. If the children need you, focus on them.

The only guideline is to avoid rigid conditioning.

This does not mean that if you are cooking vegetables, you must be absolutely mindful of the colour and smell of the vegetables and ignore the children’s questions. If you did that, you’d be clinging to the cooking.

P: Oh, so that’s why I feel frustration?

Yes, because you are clinging. Once again, you must understand that upekkha should be in every act. If you can view cooking with upekkha, then you won’t have a problem letting go of mindfulness on the cooking and you can redirect your attention to the child. Sometimes you can cook – on automatic pilot, as you say – and answer the child. Other times, if the child has a pressing need, you might find it better to stop cooking and really devote all your attention to the child. There are no set rules.

You can become attached to your mindfulness of the moment just as you can become attached to anything else.

This is very subtle, but understand from the outset that you can be bound by your own mindfulness!

P: If things are very hectic I cannot even redirect my attention to another activity, but find I have to just live in the chaos.

Well, letting go of the mindfulness can be appropriate. But we must also talk about living in the chaos. How do you deal with the chaos?

P: Sometimes I become involved in the chaos and get carried away by it.

Yes, if your mindfulness is not strong enough you can easily be drawn into the chaos. The mindfulness I am talking about is the mindfulness of your own mind. If you are not aware of your thoughts and your feelings about the chaos, you can easily slip into interacting in the situation, reacting to the chaos. Before you know what’s happening, you are already storming through the chaos, thus creating more chaos.

If you are mindful of your own feelings as you notice the chaos, you can choose how to act in the situation.

Instead of being only aware of the outside chaos, stop and look directly into yourself and see what is there.

D: But that’s not easy.

Of course not. But you have to start somewhere. As long as you are not silent inside, you will always be on a roller coaster ride with the outside chaos.

To look into yourself directly is to come back to your own source and to reach an inner equilibrium and silence. It is only from this inner equilibrium that you can view the outer chaos objectively.

When this happens you can see the chaos as chaos, as only a circumstantial situation. You’ll see the cause behind the chaos and you can act accordingly. In short, when you penetrate to the heart of the chaos, you will spontaneously resolve it in the best way for the circumstances. This is what is called penetrating insight wisdom, or pannya.

P: Do you mean we should be passive in a chaotic conflict?

No. Again, there is nothing rigid about it. One situation may require a firm hand that cuts right through to the heart of the matter. If you are acting with awareness it will be the right action. Another situation might require that you become quiet and not generate more confusion. If you stop and look, you will know what to do in each situation. If you view both the chaos and your mind with upekkha, you will know what to do and will not be bothered by the chaos.

P: If we stop to look, how can we react to others in the right way? We wouldn’t have time to think of what to do.

This is the most difficult part to explain. We are so used to functioning with the intellect that it seems quite impossible to function in any given situation without conceptualising. You see, here we are talking about insight or pannya. It’s a paradox: insight does not arise unless the conceptualising stops altogether. In a chaotic situation insight can arise only when we stop conceptualising about the chaos. Mindfulness of our own mind will in fact stop the conceptualising that our minds normally go through. When the mindfulness is strong enough and there is total silence in the mind, then insight will spontaneously arise as to how best to deal with the situation at hand.

D: I have another question. I find I can stop being emotional, right in the middle of a difficult interaction, but then I don’t know where to go from there. Since I am studying Buddhism and learning to practice the Buddhist way, I feel I should react with more compassion. But I may not feel compassionate. Because I don’t know how to go on, I go back to my old conditioning of either resentment or aggressiveness.

My dear, this is only a phase in your own progress. You have come this far. It is possible to go further. Look into the process involved in your mind right in the midst of reacting. When you are able to stop in your tracks, you are already doing quite well.

It is only when you start intellectualising again that you get into trouble.

If you have the notion that as a practicing Buddhist you should be compassionate, then you are setting up an image of yourself. As soon as that thought is allowed to come into your mind, you are not free. At that moment your mind is filled with the desire to fulfil your own image as a practicing Buddhist.

When the mind is not free, there is no chance for true compassion to arise.

It is as simple as that. Only when you free yourself of preconceived perceptions of yourself can spontaneous compassion arise. When you are free of concepts, you will act spontaneously and compassionately as well as creatively.



What has one been seeking for through thousands of years?
Once one was born he already lives long enough to die.
Between his birth and death is his own confusion.
With confusion, he grows up and gets educated, gets married and has children, and lives his life in contradictions and conflicts in himself.
With confusion, he treats his spouse and children.
With confusion, he reasons, argues, and quarrels with his friends and others.
With confusion, he tries to make order from chaos, and the order he made is also a confusion.
With confusion, he makes love for pleasure and tries to live in peace, but he just gets suffered.
With confusion, he makes wars against his opponents for punishment.
With confusion, he creates philosophy, theory or practice, and fights to death for it.
With confusion, he starts searching truth, the first cause of everything, Creator, God or whatsoever… and fights to death for it.
With confusion, he escapes from the facts of life and run into jungles or forests, into monasteries or temples…and lives there until the death comes.
With confusion, he makes himself a leader or a follower of a faith or belief, of religion or a political party, and fights to death for it.
With confusion, he builds churches or centers, and creates more confusion for himself and others.

If he could realize what he’s seeking for and doing are just the confusion itself and the confusion is himself and himself is the confusion, then the confusion would immediately stop itself and he would stops seeking himself. And at that moment, the Beauty of Life and Death is right front of his eyes, right under his nose, right in his heart-mind-body. The Beauty of Life and Death is his Heart-Mind-Body itself and his Heart-Mind-Body is the Beauty of Life and Death. His Heart-Mind-Body is the Ultimate Truth itself and the Ultimate Truth is his Heart-Mind-Body itself. There is no more seeking for whatsoever.

When one’s mind in a deluded state,
he will see "buddhas" and "sentient beings".
When one’s mind in a deluded state,
he will tightly hold on views and insights.
If one sees that every one and thing are buddhas,
why does he look down and hurt others while they are buddhas like he is?
When one really is in the awakened state,
neither views nor insights are longer needed.

Why did the Buddha call himself a Buddha?
It’s very simple: HE IS ALWAYS AWAKE.
He does not hold any views or insights.
He speaks and does nothing to hurt any other.
He only speaks and does things that bring peace.
In him, Perfect Wisdom, Great Compassion, and Humility are one.
This is why he is always the Buddha.

One day the deluded old man was asked by a man:
-How do you define a Bodhisattva?
-A Bodhisattva is the one who will not sink when walking on water and will not get burned when going through fire?
-And how do you define a Buddha?
-A Buddha is the one who will not sink when walking on water, and will not get burned when going through fire.
-So, what is the difference between a Bodhisattva an a Buddha?
-When a Buddha wants to sink, he immediately sinks or when he wants to get burned, he immediately get burned.
Meanwhile a Bodhisattva can’t sink even when he wants to sink, he can’t get burned even when he wants to get burned.

Apart from this body-n-mind, nowhere else the consciousness can be.
When one is in ignorance, his body-n-mind is the one of ignorance.
When he’s indulging in desires, his body-n-mind is the one of desires.
When he is in anger or hatred, his body-n-mind is the one of anger or hatred.
When he is awakened, his body-n-mind is the one of awakening.
What one needs to do is to be aware and awake at every moment.
When the mutation occurs in him, everything immediately falls in its place.
Q: True religion is no different to non-religion. There isn’t any room for Buddha and such in the mind of the ordinary man. Burn his statue and walk away with his soul.
A: Where there is religion this old mountain man will not abide.
Where there is non-religion this old monutain man will be gone fast.
In here, there is no room for even the mind, so let alone ordinary man and buddha and such.
If anyone would like to burn statues of the Buddha, he can do as he likes, but he no way can burn them to the last one. And there is nothing for him to take with when walking away because they had nothing – even soul.
Q: Thus! Thus! and no more but bags of air!!!  


Twenty monks and one nun, who was named Eshun, were practicing meditation with a certain Zen master.
Eshun was very pretty even though her head was shaved and her dress plain. Several monks secretly fell in love with her. One of them wrote her a love letter, insisting upon a private meeting.
Eshun did not reply. The following day the master gave a lecture to the group, and when it was over, Eshun arose. Addressing the one who had written to her, she said: "If you really love me so much, come and embrace me now."
In Tokyo in the Meiji era there lived two prominent teachers of opposite characteristics. One, Unsho, an instructor in Shingon, kept Buddha’s precepts scrupulously. He never drank intoxicants, nor did he eat after eleven o’clock in the morning. The other teacher, Tanzan, a professor of philosophy at the Imperial University, never observed the precepts. Whenever he felt like eating, he ate, and when he felt like sleeping in the daytime he slept.
One day Unsho visited Tanzan, who was drinking wine at the time, not even a drop of which is suppposed to touch the tongue of a Buddhist.
"Hello, brother," Tanzan greeted him. "Won’t you have a drink?"
"I never drink!" exclaimed Unsho solemnly.
"One who does not drink is not even human," said Tanzan.
"Do you mean to call me inhuman just because I do not indulge in intoxicating liquids!" exclaimed Unsho in anger. "Then if I am not human, what am I?"
"A Buddha," answered Tanzan.
The Zen master Hakuin was praised by his neighbours as one living a pure life.
A beautiful Japanese girl whose parents owned a food store lived near him. Suddenly, without any warning, her parents discovered she was with child.
This made her parents angry. She would not confess who the man was, but after much harassment at last named Hakuin.
In great anger the parent went to the master. "Is that so?" was all he would say.
After the child was born it was brought to Hakuin. By this time he had lost his reputation, which did not trouble him, but he took very good care of the child. He obtained milk from his neighbours and everything else he needed.
A year later the girl-mother could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth – the real father of the child was a young man who worked in the fishmarket.
The mother and father of the girl at once went to Hakuin to ask forgiveness, to apologize at length, and to get the child back.
Hakuin was willing. In yielding the child, all he said was: "Is that so?"
Once upon a time, there were a father and a son of a family in a busy city. The father was a very skillful thief in the city. He was getting older and older and worried about his son, who was still rather young and knew nothing about his great art, would not be able to take care of himself and the great art will be missing when he dies. Afterall, the time was coming.
One late night, he made his son came along with him to a rich family at the center of the city. They hid themselves in a bush in the backyard of the rich family and were waiting until there were no more people by-passed on the street and all the members of the family were in deep sleep. And both of them started digging and digging and made a narrow and short tunnel passed under the wall and opened up inside the house. Both of them finally were in there. They saw many antique expensive things, and jewery, and diamonds, and gems… sitting on the desks in the treasure-room. The father took some jewery and diamonds, then quitely walked to the tunnel. The son was still picking up some more and did not know his father was gone until he was ready to be gone with him.
But there were many loud noises was made by his father outside the wall to wake up the people in the house. He was so upset with his father’s actions but he could not do anything stop him.

Meanwhile, the homeowner lit up lamps and tried to find thieves. He knew he could not escape right away, and his eyes glanced around in seconds, he saw a big box with a lid on. Immediately, he opened the box and put himself in there and covered the lid gently to avoid making any noises. He kept himself as silent as he could in the box. When one of the people held a lamp coming close to him. He opened the lid, came out, blew out the lamp and ran back to the tunnel. People were running after him in his direction but he was faster than they were and he got into the tunnel quickly.

When he got out the tunnel and on the wayside he came to a well which he had seen before he got in the house. He picked up a rather big stepstone near the well and threw it into the well make a sound like a man falling into it.
People now got to the spot and thought that the thief should be falling into the very deep well and would be drowsy and dead in a short time and they got back into the house and got more sleep.
When the son was back to his house, his father was very glad to see his son back home in safe.
The son was still very upset with his father and complained:
-Why did you do that to me? You wanted me arrested there?
His father quietly said:
-Congratulations! My son. From now on you are able to take care of yourself. So, I will not worry about you anymore."
The art of teaching and learning in Zen is something similar to this art. No Scriptures, no Bible could help you in a situation like that. You are on your own in any situation you’d be in. At that moment you are wisdom and wisdom is you.
Tetsugen, a devotee of Zen in Japan, decided to publish the sutras, which at that time were available only in Chinese. The books were to be printed with wood blocks in an edition of seven thousand copies, a tremendous undertaking.
Tetsugen began by travelling and collecting donations for this purpose. A few sympathizers would give him a hundred pieces of gold, but most of the time he received only small coins. He thanked each donor with equal gratitude. After ten years Tetsugen had enough money to begin his task.
It happened that at that time the Uji River overflowed. Famine followed. Tetsugen took the funds he had collected for the books and spent them to save others from starvation. Then he began again his work of collecting.
Several years afterward an epidemic spread over the country. Tetsugen again gave away what he had collected.
For a third time he started his work, and after twenty years his wish was fulfilled. The printing blocks which produced the first edition of sutras can be seen today in Obaku monastery in Kyoto.
The Japanese tell their children that Tetsugen made three sets of sutras, and that the first two invisible sets surpass even the last.

Making Your Mind An Ocean- Ven. Lama Thubten Yeshe

When I talk about mind, I’m not just talking about my mind, my trip. I’m talking about the mind of each and every universal living being.

The way we live, the way we think — everything is dedicated to material pleasure.We consider sense objects to be of utmost importance and materialistically devote ourselves to whatever makes us happy, famous or popular. Even though all this comes from our mind, we are so totally preoccupied by external objects that we never look within, we never question why we find them so interesting.

As long as we exist, our mind is an inseparable part of us. As a result, we are always up and down. It is not our body that goes up and down, it’s our mind — this mind whose way of functioning we do not understand. Therefore, sometimes we have to examine ourselves — not just our body, but our mind. After all, it is our mind that is always telling us what to do.We have to know our own psychology, or, in religious terminology, perhaps, our inner nature. Anyway, no matter what we call it, we have to know our own mind.


Q. So you say that the problem lies more within the person and don’t agree with the point of view that it is society that makes people sick?


Yes. For example, I have met many Western people who’ve had problems with society. They’re angry with society, with their parents, with everything.When they understand the psychology I teach, they think, “Ridiculous! I’ve always blamed society, but actually the real problem has been inside of me all along.” Then they become courteous human beings, respectful of society, their parents, their teachers and all other people. You can’t blame society for our problems.

Q. How does it happen that people mix things up in this way?

Lama. It’s because they don’t know their own true nature. The environment, ideas and philosophies can be contributory causes, but primarily, problems come from one’s own mind. Of course, the way society is organized can agitate some people, but the issues are usually small. Unfortunately, people tend to exaggerate them and get upset. This is how it is with society, but anyone who thinks the world can exist without it is dreaming.


Q. Lama, what do you find in the ocean of a person’s nature?


When I use that expression I’m saying that people’s problems are like an ocean, but we see only the superficial waves.We don’t see what lies beneath them. “Oh, I have a problem with him. If I get rid of him I’ll solve my problems.” It’s like looking at electrical appliances without understanding that it’s the underlying electricity that makes them function.

Q. What kind of problems do we find below the waves?


Dissatisfaction. The dissatisfied mind is the fundamental element of human nature.We’re dissatisfied with ourselves; we’re dissatisfied with the outside world. That dissatisfaction is like an ocean.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 5 other followers

March 2006
« Feb   Apr »

Blog Stats

  • 1,929 hits