Tuesday, February 27, 2007

From THE DHAMMAPADA "CHOICES" Translated by Thomas Byron

This piece has always been my favourite from Dhammapada.
And I really like this translation.
Every line speaks directly to my soul... with lots of space around it.
When I first read it, I especially loved the line;
"You too shall pass away. Knowing this, how can you quarrel?"
Pema Chodron, another wonderful meditation teacher from Shambala tradition said 'when you look at someone, you are definitely looking at a dying person.' And knowing this has a very interesting effect on how we feel about the person.
When I try it, I am able to find more friendliness, compassion, love and forgiveness toward the person whether he/she is a benefactor or someone who caused pain and harm to me. (well, can be challenging, I know - but stil, even in heated emotions, it certainly creates some space)
Maybe you can have a go at this interesting experiment yourself and let me know what your experiences were. I'd be interested to hear from you.
Recently, my friend reminded me of something important. During a very casual conversation, he said 'we are here for a short time, right?' I was very grateful he'd said that.

Ram Dass, who wrote the preface to this edition of the Dhammapada, wrote "Read them slowly... a phrase at a time. Let them feed your soul."

So enjoy this piece, read it slowly, a phrase at a time, if you can. And maybe come back to it again and again whenever you are called back to it.

- - - - - - - -

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with an impure mind
And trouble will follow you
As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with a pure mind
And happiness will follow you
As your shadow, unshakable.

“Look how he abused me and beat me,
How he threw me down and robbed me.”
Live with such thoughts and you live in hate.

“Look how he abused me and beat me,
How he threw me down and robbed me.”
Abandon such thoughts, and live in love.

In this world
Hate never yet dispelled hate.
Only love dispels hate.
This is the law,
Ancient and inexhaustible.

You too shall pass away.
Knowing this, how can you quarrel?

How easily the wind overturns a frail tree.
Seek happiness in the senses,
Indulge in food and sleep,
And you too will be uprooted.
The wind cannot overturn a mountain.
Temptation cannot touch the man
Who is awake, strong and humble,
Who masters himself and minds the law.

If a man’s thoughts are muddy,
If he is reckless and full of deceit,
How can he wear the yellow robe?

Whoever is master of his own nature,
Bright, clear and true,
He may indeed wear the yellow robe.

Mistaking the false for the true
And the true for the false,
You overlook the heart
And fill yourself with desire.

See the false as false,
The true as true.
Look into your heart.
Follow your nature.

An unreflecting mind is a poor roof.
Passion, like the rain, floods the house.
But if the roof is strong, there is shelter.

Whoever follows impure thoughts
Suffers in this world and the next.
In both worlds he suffers
And how greatly
When he sees the wrong he has done.

But whoever follows the law
Is joyful here and joyful there.
In both worlds he rejoices
And how greatly
When he sees the good he has done.

For great is the harvest in this world,
And greater still in the next.

However many holy words you read,
However many you speak,
What good will they do you
If you do not act upon them?

Are you a shepherd
Who counts another man’s sheep,
Never sharing the way?

Read as few words as you like
And speak fewer.
But act upon the law.

Give up the old ways –
Passion, enmity, folly.
Know the truth and find peace.
Share the way.

translated by Thomas Byrom

- - - - - - - -
About Dhammapada;
Dhammapada is a collection of the sayings of the Buddha.
They were probably first gathered in Northan India in the third century B.C., and originally written down in Sri Lanka in the first century B.C.

"Dhamma" means law, justice, righteousness, discipline, truth.
(I find that difficult whenever this word or "Braman" are attenpted to be put in words)
"Pada" means path, step, foot, foundation.

It was originally transmitted and recorded in Pali language and it's become the principal scripture for Buddhists in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I just had to put this one up...

The person who, being really on the Way, falls upon hard times in the world, will not, as a consequence, turn to that friend who offers him refuge and comfort and encourages their old self to survive.
Rather, he will seek out someone who will faithfully and inexorably help him to risk himself, so that he may endure the difficulty and pass courageously through it. Only to the extent that a person exposes himself over and over again to annihilation, can that which is indestructible be found within them. In this daring lies dignity and the spirit of true awakening.

Karlfried von Durkheim, Zen teacher

Monday, February 19, 2007

AHIMSA - Non Violence - From Yoga Sutras of Patanjali II-34, 35

"Negative thoughts and emotions are violent, in that they cause injury to yourself and others, regardless of whether they are performed by you, done by others, or you permit them to be done.
They arise from greed, anger, or delusion regardless of whether they arise from mild, moderate, or esxcessive emotional intensity.
They result in endless misery and ignorance.
Therefore, when you consistently cultivate the opposite throughts and emotions, the unwholesome tendencies are gradually destroyed. (II-34)"
By abiding in nonviolence, one's presence creates an atmosphere in which hostility ceases. (II-35)

"Yoga Sutra of Patanjali" II-34, 35 (about Ahimsa)
Interpreted by Mukunda Stiles

I am putting this one up to share with you, one of the teachings from Yoga Sutras, to which I feel we can keep coming back over and over again.
In order to reflect on our thoughts and actions, to see if choices we make in our lives are truly serving us and others around us or not, and also to see if our thoughts & actions are aligned, in harmony in our being. (This leads to the teaching on truthfulness - satya, also from Yoga Sutras)

When we go deeply into this enquiry, we find (well, I do) some things are not so easy to put into practice. In fact, they can be very difficult indeed, when it gets closer to some insecurity that's hidden deeply in ourselves.
However, I also feel that we can always start with whatever we can now, no matter how small, and keep observing more challenging issues over a long period of time, with compassion and without judgment.

By doing so, I feel, we can return 'gradually' into the wholeness of our being - which ultimately leads to our freedom from the deeply seated fear that keeps driving us into unnecessary actions & reactions.
This process takes place sometimes with guidance from trusted others, whether it be a spiritual teacher or a good therapist to help us heal our our psychological wounds, and sometimes by learning to trust one's own self.

Over time, I've recognised that going down the negative thought path is somehow easier than staying positive and light, especially when going gets tough - which is interesting, because when we are suffering, we feel as though we are faced with difficulties - which is true in a sense, because that's how it really feels and it's real to us - but the true challenge actually lies in cultivating the opposite, despite the strong "pull" into indulging ourselves in more painful situations. And by allowing ourselves to continue to be pulled in that direction, we end up perpetuating our own suffering... make sense?
This painful on-going circle must be stopped, the pattern needs to be broken.

One day, it suddenly made very clear sense to me. And that was one of my fist true turning points.
Once seen, recognised and acknowleged with true honesty, then changes are already on their way...
And believe me, it can be done - though it may not seem so at times when our visions are so narrow and solid and so real and you believe that you are in the darkest place with no way out. Wait patiently, persistently and compassionately - you'll find a finest 'crack' in the solid darkness. Stay awake not to miss that crack!
The solidness is only in our mind = not real.
Or in other words, we needed to go through the solid darkness in order to truly recognise and appreciate the freedom and the strength we find in ourselves when finally come through. (It seems unfair for some of us sometimes. It'll always be unfair if we only identify ourselves as our personality with its history. Remember the big one!! Anyway, at least, nothing is your fault! And you have the power to change your thought. If you want to change your life, change your thought, someone told me. That's brilliant!)

We will go through those dark phases, long or short, big drama or small irritation, over and over again throughout our life time. Each time we come through, we are lighter and closer to the wholeness of our being - only to realise that it has always been there. We just like making D-tours.

We can take even a tiny little step toward getting out of negativity. And that is the courageous path of a spiritual warrior.
When failed, the important thing is simply NOT to dwell into our "failure" (= negative thought) and is to keep trying again and again with mindfulness and compassion.
I think that's brave.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

On Teaching by Vanda

I have had this excerpt from "Awakening The Spine" by Vanda Scaravelli on my wall for years.
As something to remind myself of what it is to teach yoga. It keeps my spine "awake", literally and metapholically!
I felt like putting this up as a new post today. So here it is.

- On Teaching -

To teach is an act of love.

To teach yoga is also a responsibility, because occasionally certain centres are awakened in which the energy released can be tremendously powerful.
This energy is not meant to be used for personal or egoistic purposes, but for other people's sake.

To teach implies also a certain vigilance and dedication in everyday life.
(This is why, in the past, this practice was limited to the very few.)
There are no good pupils, there are only good teachers.

Teaching is not an imposition of the teacher's will over that of the pupil, not at all. Teaching starts with freedom and ends with freedom.
A receptive state is required on the part of the pupil, a feeling of acceptance, even before the brain sees the truth of what is shown; an empty free space that one might call "innocence". It is from here that intelligence starts to function.
The aim of the teacher is to awaken interest and curiosity in the mind of the pupil, giving him a clear picture of the subject. His explanations should be so evident and logical that the pupil cannot but grasp the significance of what is said.

"Awakening The Spine" by Vanda Scaravelli

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