There are a lot of people who feel that the proper way of following a spiritual discipline is by denying their simple humanity. They have become so suspicious of pleasure that they think there is actual value in being miserable: ‘I am a religious person so I shouldn’t enjoy myself.’ Although their aim is to achieve some form of eternal peace and happiness they make a point of denying themselves the everyday pleasures of life. They view these pleasures as obstacles, hindrances to spiritual development, and if they happen to experience a small amount of pleasure they feel uncomfortable. They cannot even eat a piece of chocolate without thinking they are ‘sinful and greedy’. Instead of accepting and enjoying such an experience for what it is, they tie themselves up in a knot of guilt and self reproach: ‘While so many people in the world are starving and miserable, how dare I indulge myself in this way!’
But such attitudes are completely mistaken. There is no reason at all to feel guilty about pleasure; this is just as mistaken as grasping onto passing pleasures and expecting them to give us ultimate satisfaction. In fact, it is just another form of grasping, another way of locking ourselves into a limited view of who we are and what we can become. Such guilt is a perversion of spirituality, not a true spiritual attitude at all.  – Lama Yeshe
Nothing remains the same for two consecutive moments. Heraclitus said we can never bathe twice in the same river. Confucius, while looking at a stream, said, "It is always flowing, day and night." The Buddha implored us not just to talk about impermanence, but to use it as an instrument to help us penetrate deeply into reality and obtain liberating insight. We may be tempted to say that because things are impermanent, there is suffering. But the Buddha encouraged us to look again. Without impermanence, life is not possible. How can we transform our suffering if things are not impermanent? How can our daughter grow up into a beautiful young lady? How can the situation in the world improve? We need impermanence for social justice and for hope.
If you suffer, it is not because things are impermanent. It is because you believe things are permanent. When a flower dies, you don’t suffer much, because you understand that flowers are impermanent. But you cannot accept the impermanence of your beloved one, and you suffer deeply when she passes away.
If you look deeply into impermanence, you will do your best to make her happy right now. Aware of impermanence, you become positive, loving and wise. Impermanence is good news. Without impermanence, nothing would be possible. With impermanence, every door is open for change. Impermanence is an instrument for our liberation. -Thich Nhat Hanh
Joy with others is also good kamma-making. I was in a little village once where there was a special bell attached to the temple. Whenever anyone in that village had some good fortune, they would go and ring that bell. If the harvest was brought in, or the daughter got married, if someone came back from the hospital, or a good business deal had been arranged, if the roof had been reshingled, anything at all that gave then joy. When the bell was rung everybody would come out, look in the direction of the person who was ringing the bell and say, ‘Well done. Well done.’ The one who was ringing the bell was making good kamma by making it possible for the others to share his joy. The others were making good kamma by sharing another’s joy.- Ayya Khema
"There is a story in the Pali Canon about a father and daughter who performed in the circus. The father would place a very long bamboo stick on his forehead, and his daughter would climb to the top of the stick. When they did this, people gave them some money to buy rice and curry to eat.
One day the father told the daughter, ‘My dear daughter, we have to take care of each other. You have to take care of your father, and I have to take care of you, so that we will be safe. Our performance is very dangerous.’ Because if she fell, both would not be able to earn their living. If she fell, then broke her leg, they wouldn’t have anything to eat. ‘My daughter, we have to take care of each other so we can continue to earn our living.’
"The daugher was wise. She said, ‘Father, you should say it this way:" Each of us has to take care of himself or herself, so that we can continue to earn our living." Because during the performance, you take care of yourself, you take care of yourself only. You stay very stable, very alert. That will help me And if when I climb I take care of myself, I climb very carefully, I do not let anything wrong happen to me. That is the way you should say it, Father. You take good care of yourself, and I take good care of myself. In that way we can continue to earn our living.’ The Buddha agreed that the daughter was right." -Thich Nhat Hanh
One day, I offered a number of children a basket filled with tangerines. The basket was passed around, and each child took one tangerine and put it in his or her palm. We each looked at our tangerine, and the children were invited to meditate on its origins. They saw not only the tangerine, but also its mother, the tangerine tree. With some guidance, they began to visualize the blossoms in the sunshine and in the rain. Then they saw petals falling down and tiny green fruit appear. The sunshine and the rain continued, and the tiny tangerine grew. Now someone has picked it, and the tangerine is here. After seeing this, each child was invited to peel the tangerine slowly, noticing the mist and the fragrance of the tangerine, and then bring it up to his or her mouth and have a mindful bite, in full awareness of the texture and taste of the fruit and the juice coming out. We ate slowly like that.
Each time you look at a tangerine, you can see deeply into it. You can see everything in the universe in one tangerine. When you peel it and smell it, its wonderful. You can take your time eating a tangerine and be very happy. – Thich Nhat Hanh 

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October 2006
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