Sunday, June 27, 2010

Letting Go of Spiritual Experience

A good article taken from
However practitioners must keep noting the thoughts and intepretations arising while reading such articles, as there is a tendency for us to 'jump the gun'. Just keep noting, and like the author says, let go of everything. Even the experiences of bliss are conditional in nature. And so are the insights.

Letting Go of Spiritual Experience

Stop clinging to peak moments and open to true realization.

By Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche

Spiritual Experiences and Realizations

There will be all sorts of experiences on the spiritual path. Positive periods of development—those that are reassuring and comforting—are an important part of the process. It is important to realize, however, that even positive experiences will fluctuate. We will rarely, if ever, perceive a steady development of them, precisely because experiences are fickle by nature. Enjoying a series of good experiences does not ensure that they will continue indefinitely; they may stop suddenly. Even so, they remain an important part of spiritual practice, not least because they help to maintain our motivation to continue practicing.

The way in which these positive experiences arise also varies enormously. You may have some amazingly moving experiences, something like a spiritual awakening that appears to arise out of the blue. In fact, such experiences do not really come from nowhere; psychic conditions will always precede them, although they appear to our conscious experience as independent. They can also vanish just as quickly as they appear. At other times, certain experiences will grow over a period of time, peak, and then gradually fade away again.

As spiritual practitioners, we are instructed not to attach too much significance to these experiences. The advice is to resist the temptation to become fixated on the experiences themselves. Experiences will come and go. Each experience has to be let go of, or the mind will simply close down in its fixation on that experience, leaving little or no room for new experiences to arise. This is because your fixation will encourage worries and doubts to arise in the mind and interfere with the development process. If there is no fixation involved in the process, positive spiritual experiences will start to lead you to spiritual realizations.

In Buddhism, we distinguish between spiritual experiences and spiritual realizations. Spiritual experiences are usually more vivid and intense than realizations because they are generally accompanied by physiological and psychological changes. Realizations, on the other hand, may be felt, but the experience is less pronounced. Realization is about acquiring insight. Therefore, while realizations arise out of our spiritual experiences, they are not identical to them. Spiritual realizations are considered vastly more important because they cannot fluctuate.

The distinction between spiritual experiences and realizations is continually emphasized in Buddhist thought. If we avoid excessively fixating on our experiences, we will be under less stress in our practice. Without that stress, we will be better able to cope with whatever arises, the possibility of suffering from psychic disturbances will be greatly reduced, and we will notice a significant shift in the fundamental texture of our experience.

There are many accounts in Tibetan Buddhist literature of how spiritual disturbances may arise, but all point to fixation on experiences as the cause. Fixation on our experiences is seen as another variation of fixation on the self.

In the overall context of the spiritual journey, it is important to remember that self-transformation is a continuous process, not a onetime event. One cannot say, "I used to be a nonspiritual person, but now I have been transformed into a spiritual person. My old self is dead." We are constantly being transformed when we travel on the path. While we may be the same individual on one level, on another level we are different. There is always continuity, and yet at each major turning point on the journey we have become transformed because certain habits have dropped away. The spiritual journey is dynamic and always tends forward because we are not fixating on things.

Letting Go

The spiritual journey, then, is a journey of detachment, a process of learning how to let go. All of our problems, miseries, and unhappiness are caused by fixation—latching onto things and not being able to release them. First we have to let go of fixation on material things. This does not necessarily mean jettisoning all our material possessions, but it implies that we should not look to material things for lasting happiness. Normally, our position in life, our family, our standing in the community, and so forth, are perceived to be the source of our happiness. This perspective has to be reversed, according to spiritual teachings, by relinquishing our fixation on material things.

Letting go of fixation is effectively a process of learning to be free, because every time we let go of something, we become free of it. Whatever we fixate upon limits us because fixation makes us dependent upon something other than ourselves. Each time we let go of something, we experience another level of freedom.

Eventually, in order to be totally free, we learn to let go of concepts. Ultimately, we need to relinquish our fixation on the reification of concepts, of things being "this" or "that." Thinking of this and that binds us to a particular way of experiencing things. Even spiritual experiences will not be given complete, spontaneous, unmediated expression as long as the subtlest kind of conceptual distinction is present. Experience will still be mediated, adulterated, and tainted by all kinds of psychic content when we make discriminations. Therefore, it will remain impossible ever to be truly free.

The final step in the process of letting go is relinquishing the idea that material corruption and spiritual freedom are unequivocally opposed to one another and that we have to give up the former to attain the latter. While this is an important distinction to observe at the beginning of the spiritual journey, we have to overcome that duality. We have to transcend both the seduction of samsaric pleasure that turns out to be so illusory and the seduction of our spiritual goal that appears to be offering eternal happiness. Once the pull between these two poles is harmonized and transcended, we are ready to return home.

The Fruition of the Spiritual Path

The ultimate goal of the spiritual journey is to realize the union of your mind and ultimate reality. You discover eventually that not only are you in reality, but that you also embody that reality. Your ordinary body becomes the body of a buddha, your ordinary speech becomes the speech of a buddha, and your ordinary mind becomes the mind of a buddha. This is the great transition that you have to make, relinquishing your fixation on the separation of samsaric beings and buddhas. When we can talk about them as ultimately the same, when this actual transformation occurs within an individual, it is a truly great occurrence. It is remarkable because an ordinary, confused being still retains that preexisting continuity between an ordinary being and an enlightened being, in the sense that what you become is what you have always been. At the end of the journey, you are simply returning home.

Yet the journey itself was absolutely necessary. It was necessary to leave your familiar environment and venture through various trials and tribulations. It was necessary to deal with many unexpected things, to grapple with your inner demonic forces. It was necessary to go through the spiritual struggle and engage in vigorous disciplines. Spiritual struggle is valuable for the purification of the mind. Your mind has to be cleansed of the delusions and conflicting emotions that are the product of your karma, the product of the negative thoughts and actions that have accumulated in your mindstream over a long period of time.

After a point, however, you have to ease away from that struggle. As progress is made on the path, the positive qualities required for further advancement will become part of you, and you will gradually learn how to assimilate and become these positive qualities, rather than regarding them as something to be attained and possessed. So after the initial focus on learning how to replace vices with virtues, we must learn to let go of our fixation on virtues. We have to stop thinking about accumulating virtues, spiritual qualities, experiences, and realizations as if they were a form of wealth. We do not require spiritual wealth; moreover, spiritual wealth can only be accumulated by not fixating on it. All fixations lead only to all manner of trouble—envy, possessiveness, and egotism, for example. It is then that we really go astray and wander from the spiritual path.

As our virtuous qualities of love, compassion, joy, courage, determination, resolve, mindfulness, awareness, and wisdom develop, we progress further along the path. At some point, we have to accomplish one final act of detachment, which is to let go of reifying concepts altogether. Even the concepts of virtue and vice, redemption, karma, and liberation have to be relinquished. By way of illustration, I’d like to share a story from the Zen tradition.

It is not uncommon for Zen meditation students to keep in regular contact with their teachers concerning their spiritual progress. In this particular story, a Zen student has a penchant for writing to his teacher monthly with an account of his development. His letters began to take a mystical turn when he wrote, "I am experiencing a oneness with the universe." When his teacher received this letter, he merely glanced at it and threw it away. The next month the student wrote, "I have discovered that the divine is present in everything." His teacher used this letter to start his fire. A month later, the student had become even more ecstatic and wrote, "The mystery of the one and many has revealed itself to my wonderment," at which his teacher yawned. The following month, another letter arrived, which simply said, "There is no self, no one is born, and no one dies." At this his teacher threw his hands up in despair. After the fourth letter, the student stopped writing to his teacher, and after a year had passed, the teacher began to feel concerned and wrote to his student, asking to be kept informed of his spiritual progress. The student wrote back with the words "Who cares?" When the teacher read this, he smiled and said, "At last! He’s finally got it!"

At the end of the journey, you will be able to engage in everything on both the material and the spiritual planes without being tainted by them, because a spiritually realized being is no longer affected by the world in the same way an ordinary person is. Without going through the trials and tribulations of this journey, however, you will never find your home. You cannot simply stay at home and say, "I am already where I want to be." It is only the journey that makes you realize your true potential, and only at the end of the journey will you understand that the goal is not to separate from the starting point. That is the attainment of buddhahood, the natural state of your own mind.

Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche is the president and spiritual director of Kagyu E-Vam Buddhist Institute, headquartered in Melbourne, Australia. From Mind At Ease: Self-Liberation Through Mahamudra Meditation, © 2004 by Traleg Kyabgon. Reprinted with permission of Shambhala Publications.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Go With the Flow

Taken from,2&offer=dharma

Go with the Flow

Guided Meditation with Shinzen Young

Take a moment to settle into your posture. Place some of your attention on your body sensations. At the same time, place some attention behind your closed eyes, where mental images are likely to be seen. Also place some attention in your head, where internal talk is likely to be heard. Get a sense of what it’s like to simultaneously focus attention in these three areas.

Now, if you’re aware of body sensation and nothing else, say “body,” out loud or to yourself. If you’re aware of visual thinking and nothing else, say “image.” If you’re aware of verbal thinking and nothing else, say “talk.” If you’re aware of more than one of these at the same time, choose one and focus on it. Label your awareness in this way every few seconds for ten minutes or so.

Now we’re going to add some detail. When you label “body,” that body sensation may last or disappear. If it disappears, say “gone.” Similarly, when you label “image,” that mental image may stick around or vanish. If it vanishes, say “gone.” When you label “talk,” that particular burst of talk may continue or die away. If it dies away, say “gone.” So, now you have four labels: body, image, talk, and gone. Continue in this way for another ten minutes or so.

Now, I would ask you some questions and give you some choices. If one of the elements (body, image, talk) was strongly activated, we might decide to work with that element in more detail. On the other hand, we might decide to pursue the opposite course of paying attention to the least active, most restful element. Or we might decide to simply continue with the procedure as we have been doing it. Let’s say that body sensation was very active and we decided to work with that. The continuing guidance might go something like this:

Bring all your attention to your body sensations. When you’re aware of a body sensation that seems solid and unchanging, say “solid.” When you’re aware of a body sensation that seems soft or flowing, say “flow.” Whenever you’re aware that a solid sensation or a burst of flow vanishes, say “gone.”

As you label in my presence, I would carefully listen to your tone of voice and pace. The goal is to note continuously, but not frenetically. I might give you feedback to speed up or to slow down. Furthermore, the tone of your voice gives me an indication of the depth of your equanimity, so I might ask you to change the tone. I’d also be listening for what proportion of the time you were noting solidity, fluidity, or vanishing. I would guide you differently depending on what predominated. Say, for example, that every three or four labels was “flow.” In that case, my continuing guidance might go something like this:

Now focus all your attention on that flow. Flow can occur in various “flavors”: waviness, vibration, expansion, contraction, and so forth. Focus all your attention on the flow in your body, ignoring solidity just for now. Also let mental images and internal talk be in the background. Each time you note “flow,” go with the flow. Let it massage you. Let it nurture you. Let it meditate you.

Thus, through an interactive decision tree, we would be able to spot a natural opening—in this case, insight into impermanence.


Flood at Orchard Road

Mother Nature shows no favourtism. Just because Orchard Road is Singapore's best known location doesn't mean it will be spared from natural disasters. And anyway this is so small scale, makes one wonder what people going through REAL floods have to go through.Our local news reports that it is due to a canal clogged by debris that caused the flooding, but surely the message we need to learn is something bigger.

I wonder what will happen if, due to global warming, sea levels were to rise significantly? Does this encounter give us an idea of what to expect then?

Anyway, here are some pictures taken from Straits Times website. ( Wow all those damaged HERMES goods! :-D )

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

3D Stereograms

I remember there was a period of time during youth that these 3D stereograms were a big hit in Singapore. Almost everyone was obsessed with collecting these posters, and learning to see through these posters. Once one is able to see through the posters, the picture will reveal a 3 dimensional shape.

There's an uncanny similarity in meditation practice. With the practice of insight meditation, be it vipassana or through self-inquiry, the mind will reveal its different layers on its own accord. These layers have such a profound effect that is way beyond comprehension, yet they are just the mind revealing itself, just like the same poster revealing a 3D shape.

Practice makes perfect (although perfection is a myth really), with more practice we can see the 3D shapes more consistently. With more practice we can open up the mind and its layers.

Kalama Sutta: The Buddha's Charter of Free Inquiry

The Preface.


The instruction of the Kalamas (Kalama Sutta) is justly famous for its encouragement of free inquiry; the spirit of the sutta signifies a teaching that is exempt from fanaticism, bigotry, dogmatism, and intolerance.

The reasonableness of the Dhamma, the Buddha's teaching, is chiefly evident in its welcoming careful examination at all stages of the path to enlightenment. Indeed the whole course of training for wisdom culminating in the purity of the consummate one (the Arhat) is intimately bound up with examination and analysis of things internal: the eye and visible objects, the ear and sounds, the nose and smells, the tongue and tastes, the body and tactile impressions, the mind and ideas.

Thus since all phenomena have to be correctly understood in the field of Dhamma, insight is operative throughout. In this sutta it is active in rejecting the bad and adopting the good way; in the extracts given below in clarifying the basis of knowledge of conditionality and arhatship. Here it may be mentioned that the methods of examination in the Kalama Sutta and in the extracts cited here, have sprung from the knowledge of things as they are and that the tenor of these methods are implied in all straight thinking. Further, as penetration and comprehension, the constituents of wisdom are the result of such thinking, the place of critical examination and analysis in the development of right vision is obvious. Where is the wisdom or vision that can descend, all of a sudden, untouched and uninfluenced by a critical thought?

The Kalama Sutta, which sets forth the principles that should be followed by a seeker of truth, and which contains a standard things are judged by, belongs to a framework of the Dhamma; the four solaces taught in the sutta point out the extent to which the Buddha permits suspense of judgment in matters beyond normal cognition. The solaces show that the reason for a virtuous life does not necessarily depend on belief in rebirth or retribution, but on mental well-being acquired through the overcoming of greed, hate, and delusion.

More than fifty years ago, Moncure D. Conway, the author of "My Pilgrimage to the Wise Men of the East," visited Colombo. He was a friend of Ponnambalam Ramanathan (then Solicitor General of Ceylon), and together with him Conway went to the Vidyodaya Pirivena to learn something of the Buddha's teaching from Hikkaduve Siri Sumangala Nayaka Thera, the founder of the institution. The Nayaka Thera explained to them the principles contained in the Kalama Sutta and at the end of the conversation Ramanathan whispered to Conway: "Is it not strange that you and I, who come from far different religions and regions, should together listen to a sermon from the Buddha in favor of that free thought, that independence of traditional and fashionable doctrines, which is still the vital principle of human development?" - Conway: "Yes, and we with the (Kalama) princes pronounce his doctrines good."

The Sutta. Translated from the Pali by Ven. Soma Thera

The Instruction to the Kalamas

The Kalamas of Kesaputta go to see the Buddha

1. I heard thus. Once the Blessed One, while wandering in the Kosala country with a large community of bhikkhus, entered a town of the Kalama people called Kesaputta. The Kalamas who were inhabitants of Kesaputta: "Reverend Gotama, the monk, the son of the Sakiyans, has, while wandering in the Kosala country, entered Kesaputta. The good repute of the Reverend Gotama has been spread in this way: Indeed, the Blessed One is thus consummate, fully enlightened, endowed with knowledge and practice, sublime, knower of the worlds, peerless, guide of tamable men, teacher of divine and human beings, which he by himself has through direct knowledge understood clearly. He set forth the Dhamma, good in the beginning, good in the middle, good in the end, possessed of meaning and the letter, and complete in everything; and he proclaims the holy life that is perfectly pure. Seeing such consummate ones is good indeed."

2. Then the Kalamas who were inhabitants of Kesaputta went to where the Blessed One was. On arriving there some paid homage to him and sat down on one side; some exchanged greetings with him and after the ending of cordial memorable talk, sat down on one side; some saluted him raising their joined palms and sat down on one side; some announced their name and family and sat down on one side; some without speaking, sat down on one side.

The Kalamas of Kesaputta ask for guidance from the Buddha

3. The Kalamas who were inhabitants of Kesaputta sitting on one side said to the Blessed One: "There are some monks and brahmins, venerable sir, who visit Kesaputta. They expound and explain only their own doctrines; the doctrines of others they despise, revile, and pull to pieces. Some other monks and brahmins too, venerable sir, come to Kesaputta. They also expound and explain only their own doctrines; the doctrines of others they despise, revile, and pull to pieces. Venerable sir, there is doubt, there is uncertainty in us concerning them. Which of these reverend monks and brahmins spoke the truth and which falsehood?"

The criterion for rejection

4. "It is proper for you, Kalamas, to doubt, to be uncertain;uncertainty has arisen in you about what is doubtful. Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, 'The monk is our teacher.' Kalamas, when you yourselves know: 'These things are bad; these things are blamable; these things are censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill,' abandon them.

Greed, hate, and delusion

5. "What do you think, Kalamas? Does greed appear in a man for his benefit or harm?" - "For his harm, venerable sir." - "Kalamas, being given to greed, and being overwhelmed and vanquished mentally by greed, this man takes life, steals, commits adultery, and tells lies; he prompts another too, to do likewise. Will that be long for his harm and ill?" - "Yes, venerable sir."

6. "What do you think, Kalamas? Does hate appear in a man for his benefit or harm?" - "For his harm, venerable sir." - "Kalamas, being given to hate, and being overwhelmed and vanquished mentally by hate, this man takes life, steals, commits adultery, and tells lies; he prompts another too, to do likewise. Will that be long for his harm and ill?" - "Yes, venerable sir."

7. "What do you think, Kalamas? Does delusion appear in a man for his benefit or harm?" - "For his harm, venerable sir." - "Kalamas, being given to delusion, and being overwhelmed and vanquished mentally by delusion, this man takes life, steals, commits adultery, and tells lies; he prompts another too, to do likewise. Will that be long for his harm and ill?" - "Yes, venerable sir."

8. "What do you think, Kalamas? Are these things good or bad?" - "Bad, venerable sir" - "Blamable or not blamable?" - "Blamable, venerable sir." - "Censured or praised by the wise?" - "Censured, venerable sir." - "Undertaken and observed, do these things lead to harm and ill, or not? Or how does it strike you?" - "Undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill. Thus it strikes us here."

9. "Therefore, did we say, Kalamas, what was said thus, 'Come Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, "The monk is our teacher." Kalamas, when you yourselves know: "These things are bad; these things are blamable; these things are censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill," abandon them.'

The criterion for acceptance

10. "Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, 'The monk is our teacher.' Kalamas, when you yourselves know: 'These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,' enter on and abide in them.

Absence of greed, hate, and delusion

11, "What do you think, Kalamas? Does absence of greed appear in a man for his benefit or harm?" - "For his benefit, venerable sir." - "Kalamas, being not given to greed, and being not overwhelmed and not vanquished mentally by greed, this man does not take life, does not steal, does not commitadultery, and does not tell lies; he prompts another too, to do likewise. Will that be long for his benefit and happiness?" - "Yes, venerable sir."

12. "What do you think, Kalamas? Does absence of hate appear in a man for his benefit or harm?" - "For his benefit, venerable sir." - "Kalamas, being not given to hate, and being not overwhelmed and not vanquished mentally by hate, this man does not take life, does not steal, does not commit adultery, and does not tell lies; he prompts another too, to do likewise. Will that be long for his benefit and happiness?" - "Yes, venerable sir."

13. "What do you think, Kalamas? Does absence of delusion appear in a man for his benefit or harm?" - "For his benefit, venerable sir." - "Kalamas, being not given to delusion, and being not overwhelmed and not vanquished mentally by delusion, this man does not take life, does not steal, does not commit adultery, and does not tell lies; he prompts another too, to do likewise. Will that be long for his benefit and happiness?" - "Yes, venerable sir."

14. "What do you think, Kalamas? Are these things good or bad?" - "Good, venerable sir." - "Blamable or not blamable?" - "Not blamable, venerable sir." - "Censured or praised by the wise?" - "Praised, venerable sir." - "Undertaken and observed, do these things lead to benefit and happiness, or not? Or how does it strike you?" - "Undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness. Thus it strikes us here."

15. "Therefore, did we say, Kalamas, what was said thus, 'Come Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, "The monk is our teacher." Kalamas, when you yourselves know: "These things are bad; these things are blamable; these things are censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill," abandon them.'

The Four Exalted Dwellings

16. "The disciple of the Noble Ones, Kalamas, who in this way is devoid of coveting, devoid of ill will, undeluded, clearly comprehending and mindful, dwells, having pervaded, with the thought of amity, one quarter; likewise the second; likewise the third; likewise the fourth; so above, below, and across; he dwells, having pervaded because of the existence in it of all living beings, everywhere, the entire world, with the great, exalted, boundless thought of amity that is free of hate or malice.

"He lives, having pervaded, with the thought of compassion, one quarter; likewise the second; likewise the third; likewise the fourth; so above, below, and across; he dwells, having pervaded because of the existence in it of all living beings, everywhere, the entire world, with the great, exalted, boundless thought of compassion that is free of hate or malice.

"He lives, having pervaded, with the thought of gladness, one quarter; likewise the second; likewise the third; likewise the fourth; so above, below, and across; he dwells, having pervaded because of the existence in it of all living beings, everywhere, the entire world, with the great, exalted, boundless thought of gladness that is free of hate or malice.

"He lives, having pervaded, with the thought of equanimity, one quarter; likewise the second; likewise the third; likewise the fourth; so above, below, and across; he dwells, having pervaded because of the existence in it of all living beings, everywhere, the entire world, with the great, exalted, boundless thought of equanimity that is free of hate or malice.

The Four Solaces

17. "The disciple of the Noble Ones, Kalamas, who has such a hate-free mind, such a malice-free mind, such an undefiled mind, and such a purified mind, is one by whom four solaces are found here and now.

"'Suppose there is a hereafter and there is a fruit, result, of deeds done well or ill. Then it is possible that at the dissolution of the body after death, I shall arise in the heavenly world, which is possessed of the state of bliss.' This is the first solace found by him.

"'Suppose there is no hereafter and there is no fruit, no result, of deeds done well or ill. Yet in this world, here and now, free from hatred, free from malice, safe and sound, and happy, I keep myself.' This is the second solace found by him.

"'Suppose evil (results) befall an evil-doer. I, however, think of doing evil to no one. Then, how can ill (results) affect me who do no evil deed?' This is the third solace found by him.

"'Suppose evil (results) do not befall an evil-doer. Then I see myself purified in any case.' This is the fourth solace found by him.

"The disciple of the Noble Ones, Kalamas, who has such a hate-free mind, such a malice-free mind, such an undefiled mind, and such a purified mind, is one by whom, here and now, these four solaces are found."

"So it is, Blessed One. So it is, Sublime one. The disciple of the Noble Ones, venerable sir, who has such a hate-free mind, such a malice-free mind, such an undefiled mind, and such a purified mind, is one by whom, here and now, four solaces are found.

"'Suppose there is no hereafter and there is no fruit, no result, of deeds done well or ill. Yet in this world, here and now, free from hatred, free from malice, safe and sound, and happy, I keep myself.' This is the second solace found by him.

"'Suppose evil (results) befall an evil-doer. I, however, think of doing evil to no one. Then, how can ill (results) affect me who do no evil deed?' This is the third solace found by him.

"'Suppose evil (results) do not befall an evil-doer. Then I see myself purified in any case.' This is the fourth solace found by him.

"The disciple of the Noble Ones, venerable sir, who has such a hate-free mind, such a malice-free mind, such an undefiled mind, and such a purified mind, is one by whom, here and now, these four solaces are found."

"Marvelous, venerable sir! Marvelous, venerable sir! As if, venerable sir, a person were to turn face upwards what is upside down, or to uncover the concealed, or to point the way to one who is lost or to carry a lamp in the darkness, thinking, 'Those who have eyes will see visible objects,' so has the Dhamma been set forth in many ways by the Blessed One. We, venerable sir, go to the Blessed One for refuge, to the Dhamma for refuge, and to the Community of Bhikkhus for refuge. Venerable sir, may the Blessed One regard us as lay followers who have gone for refuge for life, from today."

Anguttara Nikaya, Tika Nipata

Mahavagga, Sutta No. 65


A Look at the Kalama Sutta

by Bhikkhu Bodhi

The discourse has been described as "the Buddha's Charter of Free Inquiry," and though the discourse certainly does counter the decrees of dogmatism and blind faith with a vigorous call for free investigation, it is problematic whether the sutta can support all the positions that have been ascribed to it. On the basis of a single passage, quoted out of context, the Buddha has been made out to be a pragmatic empiricist who dismisses all doctrine and faith, and whose Dhamma is simply a freethinker's kit to truth which invites each one to accept and reject whatever he likes.

But does the Kalama Sutta really justify such views? Or do we meet in these claims just another set of variations on that egregious old tendency to interpret the Dhamma according to whatever notions are congenial to oneself - or to those to whom one is preaching? Let us take as careful a look at the Kalama Sutta as the limited space allotted to this essay will allow, remembering that in order to understand the Buddha's utterances correctly it is essential to take account of his own intentions in making them.

The passage that has been cited so often runs as follows: "Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing, nor upon tradition, nor upon rumor, nor upon scripture, nor upon surmise, nor upon axiom, nor upon specious reasoning, nor upon bias towards a notion pondered over, nor upon another's seeming ability, nor upon the consideration 'The monk is our teacher.' When you yourselves know: 'These things are bad, blamable, censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill,' abandon them. When you yourselves know: 'These things are good, blameless, praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,' enter on and abide in them."

Now this passage, like everything else spoken by the Buddha, has been stated in a specific context - with a particular audience and situation in view - and thus must be understood in relation to that context. The Kalamas, citizens of the town of Kesaputta, had been visited by religious teachers of divergent views, each of whom would propound his own doctrines and tear down the doctrines of his predecessors. This left the Kalamas perplexed, and thus when "the recluse Gotama," reputed to be an Awakened One, arrived in their township, they approached him in the hope that he might be able to dispel their confusion. From the subsequent development of the sutta, it is clear that the issues that perplexed them were the reality of rebirth and kammic retribution for good and evil deeds.

The Buddha begins by assuring the Kalamas that under such circumstances it is proper for them to doubt, an assurance which encourages free inquiry. He next speaks the passage quoted above, advising the Kalamas to abandon those things they know for themselves to be bad and to undertake those things they know for themselves to be good. This advice can be dangerous if given to those whose ethical sense is undeveloped, and we can thus assume that the Buddha regarded the Kalamas as people of refined moral sensitivity. In any case he did not leave them wholly to their own resources, but by questioning them led them to see that greed, hate and delusion, being conducive to harm and suffering for oneself and others, are to be abandoned, and their opposites, being beneficial to all, are to be developed.

The Buddha next explains that a "noble disciple, devoid of covetousness and ill will, undeluded" dwells pervading the world with boundless loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity. Thus purified of hate and malice, he enjoys here and now four "solaces": If there is an afterlife and kammic result, then he will undergo a pleasant rebirth, while if there is none he still lives happily here and now; if evil results befall an evil-doer, then no evil will befall him, and if evil results do not befall an evil-doer, then he is purified anyway. With this the Kalamas express their appreciation of the Buddha's discourse and go for refuge to the Triple Gem.

Now does the Kalama Sutta suggest, as is often held, that a follower of the Buddhist path can dispense with all faith and doctrine, that he should make his own personal experience the criterion for judging the Buddha's utterances and for rejecting what cannot be squared with it? It is true the Buddha does not ask the Kalamas to accept anything he says out of confidence in himself, but let us note one important point: the Kalamas, at the start of the discourse, were not the Buddha's disciples. They approached him merely as a counselor who might help dispel their doubts, but they did not come to him as the Tathagata, the Truth-finder, who might show them the way to spiritual progress and to final liberation.

Thus, because the Kalamas had not yet come to accept the Buddha in terms of his unique mission, as the discloser of the liberating truth, it would not have been in place for him to expound to them the Dhamma unique to his own Dispensation: such teachings as the Four Noble Truths, the three characteristics, and the methods of contemplation based upon them. These teachings are specifically intended for those who have accepted the Buddha as their guide to deliverance, and in the suttas he expounds them only to those who "have gained faith in the Tathagata" and who possess the perspective necessary to grasp them and apply them. The Kalamas, however, at the start of the discourse are not yet fertile soil for him to sow the seeds of his liberating message. Still confused by the conflicting claims to which they have been exposed, they are not yet clear even about the groundwork of morality.

Nevertheless, after advising the Kalamas not to rely upon established tradition, abstract reasoning, and charismatic gurus, the Buddha proposes to them a teaching that is immediately verifiable and capable of laying a firm foundation for a life of moral discipline and mental purification . He shows that whether or not there be another life after death, a life of moral restraint and of love and compassion for all beings brings its own intrinsic rewards here and now, a happiness and sense of inward security far superior to the fragile pleasures that can be won by violating moral principles and indulging the mind's desires. For those who are not concerned to look further, who are not prepared to adopt any convictions about a future life and worlds beyond the present one, such a teaching will ensure their present welfare and their safe passage to a pleasant rebirth - provided they do not fall into the wrong view of denying an afterlife and kammic causation.

However, for those whose vision is capable of widening to encompass the broader horizons of our existence. this teaching given to the Kalamas points beyond its immediate implications to the very core of the Dhamma. For the three states brought forth for examination by the Buddha - greed, hate and delusion - are not merely grounds of wrong conduct or moral stains upon the mind. Within his teaching's own framework they are the root defilements -- the primary causes of all bondage and suffering - and the entire practice of the Dhamma can be viewed as the task of eradicating these evil roots by developing to perfection their antidotes -- dispassion, kindness and wisdom.

Thus the discourse to the Kalamas offers an acid test for gaining confidence in the Dhamma as a viable doctrine of deliverance. We begin with an immediately verifiable teaching whose validity can be attested by anyone with the moral integrity to follow it through to its conclusions, namely, that the defilements cause harm and suffering both personal and social, that their removal brings peace and happiness, and that the practices taught by the Buddha are effective means for achieving their removal. By putting this teaching to a personal test, with only a provisional trust in the Buddha as one's collateral, one eventually arrives at a firmer, experientially grounded confidence in the liberating and purifying power of the Dhamma. This increased confidence in the teaching brings along a deepened faith in the Buddha as teacher, and thus disposes one to accept on trust those principles he enunciates that are relevant to the quest for awakening, even when they lie beyond one's own capacity for verification. This, in fact, marks the acquisition of right view, in its preliminary role as the forerunner of the entire Noble Eightfold Path.

Partly in reaction to dogmatic religion, partly in subservience to the reigning paradigm of objective scientific knowledge, it has become fashionable to hold, by appeal to the Kalama Sutta, that the Buddha's teaching dispenses with faith and formulated doctrine and asks us to accept only what we can personally verify. This interpretation of the sutta, however, forgets that the advice the Buddha gave the Kalamas was contingent upon the understanding that they were not yet prepared to place faith in him and his doctrine; it also forgets that the sutta omits, for that very reason, all mention of right view and of the entire perspective that opens up when right view is acquired. It offers instead the most reasonable counsel on wholesome living possible when the issue of ultimate beliefs has been put into brackets.

What can be justly maintained is that those aspects of the Buddha's teaching that come within the purview of our ordinary experience can be personally confirmed within experience, and that this confirmation provides a sound basis for placing faith in those aspects of the teaching that necessarily transcend ordinary experience. Faith in the Buddha's teaching is never regarded as an end in itself nor as a sufficient guarantee of liberation, but only as the starting point for an evolving process of inner transformation that comes to fulfillment in personal insight. But in order for this insight to exercise a truly liberative function, it must unfold in the context of an accurate grasp of the essential truths concerning our situation in the world and the domain where deliverance is to be sought. These truths have been imparted to us by the Buddha out of his own profound comprehension of the human condition. To accept them in trust after careful consideration is to set foot on a journey which transforms faith into wisdom, confidence into certainty, and culminates in liberation from suffering.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Wisdom From Oprah Winfrey

Wise and very entertaining. Certainly worth watching over again.

10 Ways to Gain Freedom From Suffering in Daily Life

Nice article by Elisha Goldstein. Glad to know I do 9/10 of the practices, the ego just likes to go on and on about it.

If you live in the same world I do, more often than not, the mind lets itself be known that it needs a little space -- a break from the habits of daily life, an opportunity to settle into the here and now. Here's the thing. Going on retreats, vacations and taking time away from the daily grind is important and can help us deepen our connection to what is truly important. However, most of our hours are spent here (well, all of our hours are spent here, but you know what I mean). So here is where we seek the power of now.

Vietnamese Buddhist Monk and tireless peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh says: "There is no enlightenment outside of daily life."

Here are 10 ways to gain freedom from suffering in daily life

Note: If you've heard or thought of any of these before, watch your mind's reactions. Then ask yourself when the last time you implemented them is; that's where the rubber meets the road. Allow this to be a gentle reminder.

1.When awaking in the morning, before checking your cell phone for messages, take a few deep breaths and check in with the sensations of your body.

2.Think of one genuinely kind thing to say to one person in your house before leaving the home. If you live alone, wish well for someone in your life.

3.When driving, use red lights as signals to check in with our breath and body. Choose to take a few deep breaths and soften your muscles if they're tense. Wish others on the road safe driving.

4.Walk slightly slower into work or school, open your ears and listen for any birds or other sounds.

5.Practice STOP in the middle of your day.

6.Intentionally listen to a colleague when they're speaking to you (mindful listening).

7.Before leaving work or school, take a moment to look back on the day and note the work that you were proud of and perhaps some things you could do better next time.

8.Before leaving your car to step into the house, again practice a short practice, perhaps a mindful check-in and consider how you want to be the rest of the evening. If there is family at home, how would you like to be with them, if it is just yourself, what would you like the evening to look like?

9.At dinner, consider taking a few minutes of the meal to eat it mindfully, bringing your senses of sight, smell, and taste to the meal. Consider all the work (including your own) that brought this meal in front of you in this moment.

10.As you lay your head on the pillow at night, consider, where was the Good today? For those who are spiritual or religious you might consider asking, where in this day did I notice God?

There's no need to do all of these, just pick a few and begin engaging with them again and again, see what happens. Don't take my word for it, trust your own experience.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom we can all benefit from.


Adapted from a publication on Mindfulness and Psychotherapy at Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is Co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook. Visit his blog, Mindfulness and Psychotherapy at You may also find him at

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Quit Resisting Change, Letting Go Can Help You Get Ahead

Nice article taken from

Quit resisting change, letting go can help you get ahead



ONCE a monkey has gotten hold of food in its hand, it is close to impossible to get the primate to let it go. And this makes trapping it easy for monkey catchers.

In Malaysia, a villager developed the ingenious “Monkey Trap” by burying a coconut and drilling a narrow hole big enough for a monkey’s hand to go through. He would place pieces of fruit, nuts or meat on skewers in the coconut. The odour and smell of the treats attracts monkeys to reach into the narrow opening and grab hold of the treats. As the monkey attempts to extract the treats, it finds that its fistful of food will not fit through the narrow opening.

The monkey will scream in frustration as he continues to hold on to his food and attempts to remove his hand from the coconut. The villager comes over and drops a net over the monkey. Even though the monkey sees the villager approaching, so intent is it on keeping the food that it grips the morsels even tighter and tries even harder to dislodge its fist.

Nothing is keeping that monkey captive except the force of its own attachment. All it has to do to escape is let go of the food. But so strong is the force of greed that it is a rare monkey which can let go.

Aren’t many business leaders just like monkeys? We may laugh at the monkey for its stupidity but every day we see similar foolishness displayed by many business leaders who struggle with letting go. Like monkeys, many leaders fail when they hold on too tightly to something that leads them astray.

We simply can’t let go of products, services and practices that worked in the past which contribute little today but require significant amounts of our time and attention. Or we struggle to let go of our ego and pride. And some business leaders simply can’t let go of their business and stay on in their roles way past their expiry date.

But the phenomenon is not limited to business leaders. Many people are traumatically bonded and cling on to bad relationships even though they know better. Or we can’t let go of a bad habit. Worse still, many hold on to old beliefs and dogma like “if it’s not broken, why fix it” and end up missing the boat when changes need to be made. Why is this?

In the case of the monkey, greed is the key reason. Greed and avarice are why executives fail to let go. And greed leads to fear.

Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi wrote: “He who considers wealth a good thing can never bear to give up his income; he who considers eminence a good thing can never bear to give up his fame. He who has a taste for power can never bear to hand over authority to others. Holding tight to these things, such men shiver with fear; should they let them go, they would pine in sorrow.”

While greed for food holds the monkey back, what holds us back? Is it our ego, power, pride or greed?

Successful business leaders struggle with letting go of their products and services that worked previously because they fear the unknown. The fear of losing the past outweighs the gain of the future. Thich Nhat Hanh, a famous Buddhist teacher, said: “People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”

They believe if they keep going the same way, even though it may be painful now, somehow life will return to the excesses of before in the future. Albert Einstein rebuts this belief: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Status Quo

Each of us naturally wants to maintain status quo, sticking to the safe and comfortable. According to Edward Miller, dean of John Hopkins medical school, people won’t change even if their lives depended on it. He studied people two years after their coronary artery bypass grafting and found 90% of them had not changed their lifestyle even though they knew they could die. They just could not change their lifestyle for whatever reason.

CEOs are supposedly the prime change agents for their companies but they are often most resistant to change.

When Louis Gerstner took over as CEO of IBM, he started by sticking to the McKinsey routine that had worked for him throughout his career – analysis paralysis and strategy. He thought he could revive the company through drills such as selling assets and cost cutting which were his comfort zones. But he was wrong and to his credit, he changed his consultant approach to a more cultural transformative one, thereby enabling IBM’s revival.

But most leaders resist change and are crippled by excuses to retain status quo. If you walk into any business and hear the following excuses, you are in a business where there are a lot of monkeys who just can’t let go:

· We’ve never done it before and it’s not possible.

· We/another company/person tried it before and it won’t work here. Our company is different.

· We’ve been doing it this way for the past 50 years.

· Why change – it’s working OK. Everything is fine here.

· Management will hate it. This company is not ready for it.

· It needs further investigation and more thought.

· Our competitors are not doing it. Why should we?

· We don’t have the money/resources/assets to do this.

· The union will scream. It’s too much trouble to change.

· Customers won’t buy it. It’s too radical a change


Ego is responsible for the majority of business failures. Disney, Wang Laboratories and even General Motors’ slide from glory was due to leadership ego. Even celebrity CEOs are not immune to ego issues. Steve Jobs was kicked out of the company he founded because of ego issues.

A personal example while I worked at GE is of the legendary Jack Welch, whose refusal to part with Montgomery Ward, a trouble departmental store that came to GE looking for an infusion of US$100mil to reverse the retailer’s fortunes. It wasn’t enough and the next year it came back and asked for more.

GE, faced with losing its original investment, gave the firm the additional money and then proceeded to give more the next year and the following years. To protect an initial US$100mil investment, GE eventually wasted billions. Just like the monkey who couldn’t let go, the world’s greatest CEO couldn’t let go of a black hole and later admitted it was ego that stood in the way.

Nelson Mandela quit as president of South Africa after his first term a legend. Some leaders can’t let go of their businesses and stay in the job way past their expiry date, causing the business or country to be ruined in the process.

Outdated beliefs

It is hard to identify even one single big business success that was achieved by following conventional wisdom. Yet many still rely on it daily.

A secretary working part-time while studying at a university in the US refused to learn the computer and only used the typewriter. She was typing 300 words a minute and believed if she kept improving her speed, her job was safe. Whilst everything around her told her to embrace the computer, her inner belief said otherwise. A year later, they fired her and replaced her with someone who typed 80 words a minute but could use the computer.

The newspaper industry globally is in decline and many blame the advent of the Internet to this decline. But researchers Michael Moore and Sean Paul Kelley believe that it is greed and the reliance on outdated wisdom that has seen the print media’s decline.

Each of us have beliefs and conventional thinking stifling our progress. Take time and re-examine your beliefs and remove and replace the ones that don’t work. Businesses need to do this often too.

In life, there are many things that we have to learn to let go. We have to let go of situations, things, memories, attachment to people and even ourselves. It can be very painful when it’s time to let go.

Letting go is similar to crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward. Letting go can be one of the scariest experiences in your life but only by boldly taking a leap of faith into the unknown can you truly be the leader you were meant to be.

So, this weekend, why not reflect and learn to “let go” of something that is holding you back from greatness. Remember, every exit is an entry to somewhere else.

Think of it this way: you’re on a hiking trip and along the way you keep picking up heavy objects, things that don’t really help you get up the hill. After a while, these objects begin to slow you down and unless you get rid of them, you’ll never complete your trip. So, let them go.

Roshan Thiran is CEO of Leaderonomics, a social enterprise passionate about transforming the nation through leadership development. For more information on leadership programmes for your organisation, call 012-3291968 or login to

Expectations and Awareness ( in the insurance industry)

Being a leader in the insurance industry is confusing. We recruit and train FC and expect them to be independent, self-employed individuals working for their own income and lifestyle. At the same time, we expect certain minimum standard in their activities and results and if they fall short, we become super-nannies making sure every working moments of their lives are monitored and accounted for. We give them sales ideas, prospecting platforms, knowledge and skills training, and, yes, incentives to help them maintain their focus and bring in the result. We cling on to every hope that an underperforming FC is going to wake up one day, and turn into the ideal super- performer.

Being an FC in the insurance industry is confusing. We enter the industry to learn and train, expecting ourselves to be independent, self-employed individuals working for our own income and lifestyle. At the same time, we expect our leaders to be there for us all the time, ensuring our activities and results are of a certain minimum standard. We expect our leaders to be able to provide us with as much support as possible, be it in sales ideas, prospecting platforms, knowledge and skills transfer, and even incentives! Of course it will be great if everything is given free-of-charge. When we are underperforming, we expect our leaders to be able to wield his magic wand and transform us into the super-performers that we should be.

This scenario presents an age old question, which comes first, the chicken or the egg?

Are the different expectations of both the leader and the FC congruent?

Why can’t we live up to both our own, as well as others’, expectations most of the time?

The dead loop will continue its vicious cycle so long as we continue to turn outwards for a solution. The mind of every individual is so conditioned to keep seeking support and dependence outside of ourselves, to seek the strength to act and the answers to our problems. And as the ego-mind for all is self-serving, expectations created by one can never be met by another.

Tension and conflicting events may occur if this loop continues. In this case the usual scenario we face is the prospect of the FC leaving, after a lengthy period of fallen expectations.

When the conditions are right, anyone can come to a new awakening to awareness and change their perspectives towards their expectations. Whatever that we would like to achieve in the future, depends on the actions we make in the present. And without the awakening there is no choice, for choice only comes with the awareness of all the conditions. Without this awareness, we will just continue to be pushed forward by the energies of our emotions, like a bottle drifting along the currents of the big oceans. When there is awareness, a choice will present itself, for we can now choose not to be pushed by such negative energies, and decide to take the wise action that is fitting for the moment.

With awareness, expectations lose their hold on us. We are able to open up to the situation at hand more closely, and consider options with equanimity. The internal conflicting and paradoxical ideas of our expectations disappears, and we treat each issue on hand now as a new experience.

The leader with awareness will no longer be lost in judgmental thoughts, and will have the courage to allow the FC to grow on their own; giving the support they need regardless of their performance.

The FC with awareness will no longer be lost in judgmental thoughts, and will have the courage to allow themselves to grow on their own; using whatever available support given by the leaders and nothing more.

We are all only human, and as human beings we are not infallible. This truth can only be lived when we are aware. And awareness is the only thing that’s here all the time.


Understanding the nature of addictions is the key to working with them.


Events happen, deeds are done, but there is no individual doer thereof.

--The Buddha

Choice implies consciousness--a high degree of consciousness. Without it, you have no choice.

--Eckhart Tolle

Your suffering is your own activity. It is something that you are doing moment to moment. It is a completely voluntary activity…all you are doing is pinching yourself. When you realize that, you just take your hand away.

--Adi Da

People frequently ask me questions regarding addiction. In a sense, addiction is our basic human problem. It doesn't have to be addiction to alcohol and drugs. I would define addiction as any habitual behavior that feels out of control, compulsive, and destructive. Most people are addicted to painful ways of thinking. Some people have an addictive relationship to normally healthy activities such as eating or sex. As a society, we in the United States are addicted to oil. But whatever the behavior or substance, the basic underlying mechanism is something that probably every human being has experienced in some form.

Addiction seeks pleasure, pain relief, escape from suffering, numbness or excitement. Avoiding pain and seeking pleasure are conditioned survival functions that make perfect sense in a certain practical context. But in human beings, these basic survival instincts can become seriously misdirected in ways that are extremely destructive. The more we seek pleasure and run from pain in compulsive and destructive ways, the more painful it gets. Momentary highs are followed by devastating lows. The solution to this downward spiral is to stop indulging in the addictive substance or activity.

Can we choose to do this? Many people ask me if “no self” and “no choice” means there is nothing anyone can do to end an addictive pattern. People wonder if trying to stop smoking or drinking violates some basic tenet of Advaita or radical nonduality. If everything is perfect as it is, and if there is no self and no free will, then who would want or be able to change anything and why would they want to? This is a misunderstanding of Advaita and nonduality.

Change is the very nature of life and your actions and abilities and desires and insights are part of how totality is functioning. In one sense, it's absolutely true that everything is perfect just as it is, including addiction, and yet, it's equally true that we have a natural desire to wake up from entrancement and suffering.

Conceptually, as a description of reality, we can say that everything that happens is the result of infinite causes and conditions and that there is no independent executive calling the shots -- in this sense, we speak of there being no self and no choice. But the bodymind can learn or be trained in all kinds of ways so that it has more choices, better choices, more control, more refined control, more possibilities, or however you want to put it. A skilled athlete has more choices, more control, more possibilities for how to move her body than someone without that training and practice. A skilled writer has more choices, more control, more possibilities for how to express himself clearly in words than someone who is illiterate. And in the same way, it is possible to learn skills in recovery programs or in therapy or in meditation or wherever that give us more choices, more possibilities, and more ability to respond constructively rather than destructively to certain feelings, urges, discomforts and upsets. We can become aware of how we are pinching ourselves – how we are doing our suffering – and in seeing that, quite naturally, we stop.

Yes, in the larger sense, all of this learning happens out of infinite causes and conditions and could not be otherwise in any moment than exactly how it is. No independent executive is "doing" any of this. But still, it can happen (when it can). So although there is no choice in one sense, you still have to play the game. There is a power right here that acts and you are that.

Whatever life moves us to do to refine and enhance the functioning of the bodymind is wonderful. I'm very grateful that I'm not still drinking myself to death, smoking several packs of cigarettes a day, and flying into uncontrollable rages as I was forty years ago. It certainly seems that psychotherapy, meditation, martial arts training, and various forms of awareness work had something to do with bringing about that transformation. So there is nothing wrong with so-called "self-improvement." The problem comes when we think there is a self to improve, or when we fall into the erroneous presumption that there is an executive at the helm who can accomplish this task on command, or when we assume that there is any single recipe for transformation that always works, because when we believe those ideas, it becomes a set up for guilt, shame, blame, frustration, despair or self-righteousness.

There are many approaches to working with addiction. The best path for another may not be the best path for you, and what looks like failure may be the perfect unfolding. Whether an addiction stops or continues, it cannot be otherwise in any moment than how it is. When you really see that there is no separation anywhere and no independent self, then nothing that happens is taken personally anymore. This is a huge relief, and for this liberating realization, I recommend my own books and also the books on my recommended book list by Darryl Bailey, Leo Hartong, Tony Parsons, Sailor Bob Adamson, Nathan Gill, Wayne Liquorman, Chuck Hillig, Jeff Foster, Gary Crowley and Karl Renz. The most effective way of undoing addiction that I know of is non-judgmental, open awareness of what is happening right now in this moment without seeking a result or trying to change it in any way – simply seeing it clearly. For more on that kind of approach, I would recommend my books, all of which talk extensively about addiction, and also my article on “Meditation and Inquiry,” one of the outpourings on this website, where I talk about how an addictive thought pattern was dissolved through meditation and awareness. Also for more on this kind of approach, I would recommend a number of the other authors on my recommended book list such as Toni Packer, Eckhart Tolle, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Anthony deMello, Gangaji, Joko Beck, Pema Chodron, Cheri Huber, Thich Nhat Hanh, Claude Anshin Thomas, J. Krishnamurti and Mary O'Malley. And I'll say more about that kind of approach later in this article as well. In addition, and in a somewhat different vein, I recommend the excellent chapter on addiction in a book called The Guru Papers, which is also on my recommended book list.

There are many recovery programs available such as AA and other Twelve Step programs, Smart Recovery, and many others that you can find through the internet. Although I do not agree with many of his ideas and opinions, I got some valuable insights from reading Jack Trimpey's book, Rational Recovery. In particular, I found his AVRT (Addictive Voice Recognition Technique) quite useful, and some of his thinking about addiction and his challenges to the recovery movement are provocative and interesting, but his fanatical dogmatism and right-wing views on many issues are totally abhorrent to me. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (Steven C. Hayes), other forms of psychotherapy, meditation, yoga, changes in diet, and somatic awareness work such as Feldenkrais can all be helpful in recovery. The support of a recovery group, a therapist, or a true friend can be very important. But there is no one right way, so don't assume anyone else knows what's best for you.

Most in the addiction recovery world believe that total and permanent abstinence is the only real solution to addiction, but in the case of some addictions, such as overeating, complete abstinence from the addictive substance is not an option. I sobered up in 1973 from alcoholic drinking by working with a therapist who believed that permanent abstinence was not always necessary. I was completely alcohol-free for almost a year, then with the permission of my therapist, I tried drinking again in moderation. I got drunk a few times early on in this process, but for most of the next thirty years I rarely ever drank and never in excess. Years went by between one beer and the next, most of my friends were non-drinkers, I rarely had any desire to drink and no desire to drink excessively. This recovery model seemed successful. Then after thirty years, I began drinking again in a way that felt addictive. The amount I was drinking and the frequency of it were very mild compared to the kind of wild drinking I had done thirty years earlier, but I could still feel that it was addictive and, for me, dangerous and unhealthy. For several years, I simply watched it with awareness until a clear decision emerged not to drink at all anymore. This decision came from beyond the mind, not from some exertion of will-power. I now recommend complete and permanent abstinence whenever possible as the safest and most reliable cure for addiction. That may not be the only route or the best route for everyone, but trying to do something in moderation that has previously been addictive can definitely be dangerous, like playing with fire, and it can invite self-deception, denial and setbacks. For one thing, it keeps the desire and the possibility alive. It keeps the door open. It takes self-awareness and honesty not to pull the wool over your own eyes.

However you recover from an addiction, be aware that old habits may recur and that addiction is a powerful force. Even after decades of being free from an addiction, it can return, as I discovered. Anything that goes away can come back, and anything that comes, can go away again. Don't ever assume otherwise. This is true not only for things like drinking and smoking, but it applies to addictive thought patterns and emotions as well, and it is why I often say that there is no permanently enlightened person. The wisest people I know don't define themselves and they remain open to being surprised.

If you're not ready or able yet to stop the addiction completely, or if moderation is your aim and not total abstinence, then I would suggest giving careful, non-judgmental, open attention to the addictive activity whenever it occurs. This is what I did when I found myself drinking again in an addictive way, so let's take drinking as an example. Pay attention to the first impulse for a drink -- what triggers it, how does it happen, what does it feel like, what goes on -- what is this urge itself actually like – what thoughts are showing up, what mental images, how does it feel in the body -- and then the whole process of "deciding" whether to give in and indulge, how does that unfold, what are your thoughts telling you -- and then buying the bottle, opening it up, pouring the drink -- what does each moment in this process feel like in the body – and then the first sip, what is that like – and how do you feel after one drink -- what is pleasurable about it, what isn't – what moves you to have a second drink, what is this urge, do you really want another drink or is something else going on – how do you feel after that second drink -- simply paying attention and observing. You'll learn a lot. There are no "right" or "wrong" answers to these questions, and the answers may be different at different moments. It's all about paying attention, being aware of your thoughts, feeling sensations, discovering what is actually going on every step of the way. When you realize that you are pinching yourself, and when you see how it happens – what the allurement is, how it seduces you, how you do it, how it hurts – naturally, you stop.

The more the light of awareness shines on these habitual mechanisms, and the more clarity there is about how they work, the more choice and the more possibility there is. The urge for a drink may still arise, but it may be possible not to go with it. And when it isn't possible, then you drink. And you notice what that's like. Maybe over time drinking happens less and less, and maybe alcoholic drinking falls away completely at some point. Maybe at some point a clear decision and intention to stop emerges, as it did for me.

And if sobriety doesn't happen and drinking continues, then it could not be otherwise. Whatever happens in each moment is the result of infinite causes and conditions. Everything is the way it is because the whole universe is the way it is. Some bodyminds have more stormy weather than other bodyminds, just as different cities have different weather conditions. We each contain the whole universe, the saint and the sinner. There is no one to blame because everything is the cause and the effect of everything else. But don't think that this description of reality means that there is nothing to do, or that everything won't change in the next moment.

There is often tremendous social pressure to indulge in addictive behaviors. People who are indulging tend to prefer the company of others who are also indulging. It often takes real courage to be the only one in a group who is not indulging in something. One reason I have decided to completely and permanently stop drinking is that I want to be supportive to others who are trying to live without drinking. But that doesn't mean I think everyone should renounce alcohol. There are some spiritual teachers who encourage everyone, addicted or not, to totally renounce alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, television, movies that contain violence, caffeine, sugar, meat, and the list goes on. This kind of renunciation and purity may lead to real clarity and well-being, and it may be truly beneficial, but it can also become a self-righteous form of puritanical control and perfectionism, which is often the flip side of addiction. Different ways of living may be appropriate and beneficial at different times in our lives. There is no single way that is right for everyone all the time. Follow your heart, not the crowd.

It is indeed very liberating to realize that addiction and the freedom from addiction are not personal faults or achievements, and that whatever is showing up could not be otherwise in this moment than exactly how it is. This is the understanding of radical nonduality. But don't mix up the relative and the absolute or confuse descriptions with prescriptions. Although unicity is all there is, and everything is the cause and the effect of everything else, you are not separate from unicity. Don't get stuck in concepts and beliefs about “no self” and “no choice.” As one satsang teacher very wisely put it, don't hang yourself in an Advaitic noose. If you're pinching yourself, by all means stop (if you can). You may think life without the addiction will be unbearable, but my experience is that the truth is exactly the opposite.

----copyright Joan Tollifson 2010----

Friday, June 11, 2010

Dealing with Criticism

Posted by Wisdomeye on


Lama Zopa Rinpoche made the following comments on how to deal with criticism.

Bad reputation is very powerful to use for your practice, and it should be used that way. As a Kadampa geshe once said, "If someone criticizes you, this destroys your mistakes; it blows away immediately one’s own mistakes. If you are praised, it causes pride/the ego to inflate and causes great pride."

These are some quotations for transforming bad conditions into happiness by looking at them as positive, favorable conditions:

"If one has wealth, there is suffering in collecting and protecting it. If one is poor, this is the objectivity of Dharma."

"Suffering is the broom clearing away negative karmas."

"Suffering is the manifestation of emptiness (this means to look at the nature of suffering as empty, by meditating on its emptiness). Then, the suffering doesn't bother you. Seeing it as inherently existing, real suffering disturbs the mind, the mind becomes easily overwhelmed by a problem, whereas the other way – seeing its emptiness – the mind is able to overwhelm the problem like a flood."

"Suffering is the blessing or kindness of the guru." Here, the blessing is the purification of negative karma, suffering being the result of negative karma (which is now ending).

Kharag Gom Chung said, "Bad or adverse conditions are the virtuous friend, these obstacles are the inspiration persuading you to practice virtue."

"Suffering is the result of my negative karma, therefore don't dislike it or look at it as an obstacle."

Transforming bad conditions into happiness by looking at them as positive, favorable conditions is the way to make problems, bad conditions, beneficial, by using them as the path to enlightenment. How? Meditating on loving kindness and bodhicitta destroys the ego. We use them as a weapon to destroy the self-cherishing thought, which brings all obstacles. So, meditate on bodhicitta and wisdom.

In your case, use all the criticism and bad reputation, whether it is a result of your mistake or not, to destroy your ego and self-cherishing thought, which blocks one from achieving enlightenment. As long as self-cherishing abides in one’s heart, it stops one achieving enlightenment and benefiting all sentient beings. You can think of the kindness of the other person that helps you to destroy your ego. Usually, you are always supporting your ego, even developing it. Now, this person (the enemy) is helping to destroy your self-cherishing thought, so what is regarded as your enemy is really your most kind friend!

What we do is use undesirable situations, loss, etc., as experiences to be of most benefit to all sentient beings. This is not just making one’s own life emotionally happy, for some temporary peace.

There are other thought transformation teachings – so many ways you can make your life experience most beneficial for yourself and others. The essence is – if you are happy, make it beneficial for sentient beings; if you are suffering, use it as the cause to bring happiness to others. This way, whatever kind of life experience you have, use it on the path. There is no interruption to Dharma practice, and one’s life is most beneficial.

Go Tsampa said, "Others’ mistakes are one’s own mistakes. Clarify the appearance of the mistake into the deity." This means, however one is treated is the result of one’s own negative karma. Even if others create a bad reputation for you, and there is no apparent cause from your side to experience the result, still, you have to have created the cause. You can see what this yogi is saying. The second part of this technique is looking at that person as the guru, even visualizing that person in the form of a deity. This stops anger and negative emotional thoughts arising and the suffering results of those.

Karog Geshe said, "Experiencing this small suffering now finishes past negative karma, and there will be happiness in future lives. Because it finishes past negative karma, be happy for the suffering."

Criticism of Mother[posted Aug 2009]

Rinpoche sent the following letter to a student who had written saying that her mother was criticized a lot, and what could she do to help her.

My very dear Catherine,

Thank you very much for your kind letter. I am sorry for the delay in replying.

Yes, you are right, it is your mother’s karma that people criticize her. Maybe in the past she criticized others, maybe also she told lies to others.

In regards to how you can help, one thought that came to me is this: when people criticize your mother, actually this is an incredible practice for you. Of course, the people who criticize her are a most precious opportunity for your mother, in her life, like a wish-granting jewel, if she can use it. Your wish is that people only praise your mother and not criticize, but here I will explain why this is actually so important and how you can use it.

First, you take all this criticism on yourself, what people are saying about your mother, and give it to your ego, the self-cherishing thought, and totally eliminate it, like a bomb. Remember that the self-cherishing thought is the enemy, that it is the self-cherishing thought that did not allow you to achieve enlightenment in the past, from beginningless rebirths, did not allow you to even achieve liberation from samsara, and did not allow you to achieve any realizations of the lam-rim.

The self-cherishing thought has only cheated and deceived you, caused all problems, obstacles, and sufferings. Think: as long as this self-cherishing thought abides in my heart, it will cause me harm in the future. As long as this self-cherishing thought abides in my heart there is no end to suffering, no enlightenment, no liberation, no attainments, constant suffering in samsara, and constant experience of obstacles. Every time there is criticism, do this meditation, then the self-cherishing thought is destroyed.

The object that the self-cherishing thought cherishes—the object “I,” the “real I” that is cherished by the self-cherishing thought, real in the sense of existing from its own side, not merely labeled by the mind, the “I” that exists—is what is merely labeled by the mind. This is the false “I,” which appears to be not merely labeled by the mind. That is destroyed; you see it is completely, totally empty. Try to see that, stay in that state, and feel that whenever you can.

Then you give your happiness, all the merits of the three times, past, present, and future, all the resulting happiness, including enlightenment, to these people. They receive everything: the whole path to enlightenment, and they get enlightened and become the deity.

Your mother can do the same thing; this is a very good practice. You are using the other people’s criticism as a path to achieve enlightenment. This means you are using the other people’s criticism also as a path to achieve liberation, freedom forever from the ocean of samsaric suffering and its causes—karma and delusions. That means using the criticism becomes a method for liberating sentient beings from the oceans of sufferings in each realm, all the hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, human beings, suras, and asuras, and bringing them to full enlightenment.

The benefits are unbelievable, there are limitless skies of benefits and advantages that you achieve and that your mother achieves. It also purifies past negative karma; even if you did not think this, this is what happens.

This practice is the best psychology, the most useful psychology. It is the most important teaching, the teaching of bodhicitta. This is the best, most important practice. You are using the other people’s criticism, making the best use of it, and making it most beneficial for yourself.

Western psychology mainly tries to make a person feel comfortable now. The aim is to bring comfort to the person now, whether the explanation is right or wrong. That is the main goal, that they hope will happen. Here, what I am saying, means that day to day, moment by moment, you have peace in your heart. Your mind is so unbelievably happy, and you realize that that person (who is criticizing) is the most precious, most kind person for you. He or she is the most precious and kind because you achieve liberation and enlightenment from that person, because you are able to complete the paramita of patience and generate compassion and bodhicitta. He or she who criticizes you or is angry with you is the only one who causes you to achieve the whole Mahayana path, the five paths, ten bhumis, and higher goals, even the lower path has unbelievable qualities. The eighth and ninth bhumis have qualities we cannot comprehend, it is beyond our concept. It is like buddhahood for us; those bodhisattvas are like Buddha to our limited mind.

Buddha’s holy body, holy speech, and holy mind have limitless skies of qualities, so he or she who criticizes is the one who causes you to achieve all these paths and bhumis, all these incredible qualities, and all Buddha’s qualities within you. You see how they are most precious, most kind to you. They liberate you and make you collect unbelievable merit, so that helps you also to realize emptiness and be free from samsara, by ceasing the causes: karma and delusion, and the root—ignorance.

Doing these practices protects you from getting angry, so this protects you from creating negative karma, from harming others, and then causing others to get angry at you so that they create negative karma with their body, speech, and mind towards you.

It does all this; it is unbelievable. It stops you from going to the lower realms and bringing others to the lower realms—this is unbelievable. To understand this you need to think about the most unimaginable sufferings of the hell realm, hungry ghost realm, and animal realm. It is most unbearable, especially the hell realm. Thought transformation, especially bodhicitta, protects not only you, but also so many sentient beings, even in this life. You protect so many sentient beings from being reborn in the lower realms and experiencing oceans of unbelievable, heavy sufferings.

It says in the teachings: how hot is one tiny spark of fire in the hell realms? If you put all the fire in the human realm together, that is like a snowflake falling or cool air compared to one tiny spark of fire in the hell realms. It is unbearable. That is just one spark, so the rest of the hot hell is inconceivably hot, such as the burning ground and the burning iron house. Imagine an extremely large container with liquid iron and being cooked inside. Now you can imagine.

By practicing thought transformation, especially bodhicitta, you protect yourself and so many sentient beings from this most unbearable suffering in the lower realms, especially in the hells. This is extremely important to think about. If you can, read the lam-rim teachings on the sufferings of the lower realms, or other teachings in other texts. When you read them, try to remember them, to have some idea, so that you know, when you practice Dharma, especially thought transformation and bodhicitta, how it protects you every day, you and so many sentient beings, family members, and other people. You protect so many sentient beings in this life from being reborn in the lower realms and experiencing all those unbearable sufferings.

The other way to think is that when you see people in this life who get angry or criticize you or your mother, think that they are most precious, like wish-fulfilling jewels. In fact, they are more precious than that. In reality, a wish-fulfilling jewel is nothing, it is just something you can find and see how precious it is. But this situation, when you use thought transformation practice, brings you to enlightenment and enables you to liberate numberless sentient beings from the oceans of suffering and bring them to enlightenment. Even wish-fulfilling jewels cannot do that. You cannot generate compassion towards a wish-fulfilling jewel; a wish-fulfilling jewel does not have a suffering mind and does not have anger.

Please try to practice like this. Please also find attached the practices that you should focus on in this life. It is very important, every day, to meditate on the lam-rim, also, to recite one lam-rim prayer every day, reading it slowly, going over the meaning (such as the Foundation of all Good Qualities, the Three Principles of the Path, etc). You need to actualize the lam-rim, no matter how long it takes. Please put your effort into this.

Please practice as much as you can— life is not long, the nature of this life is impermanent, and death can happen at any time. This is the foundation of Buddha’s teachings, and this was the last advice Buddha gave before showing the aspect of passing away.

What makes your life most meaningful is meditation on the lam-rim, then to live your life with a bodhicitta motivation. This is the best.

With much love and prayers...

Criticizing and blaming others

The most important Dharma practice is to cease the delusions, the three poisonous minds, which are the root of all suffering, as well as the self-centered mind. All the reciting of mantras and prayers, listening to Dharma, meditating, prostrating, offering mandalas, making offerings at the altar to the holy objects—all of it is for ceasing the delusions and ego.

Therefore the main Dharma practice is to watch the mind during your daily life and to try to free it from being controlled by delusion; to stop torturing yourself with delusions, abusing yourself with your own delusions. How? By applying the three principal aspects of the path and tantra—or at the very least, impermanence and death.

We should realize that the mind is like a baby and we always need to watch it and take care of it; forgetting to do this for even a few minutes can bring danger to a small child. Suddenly the mind is in great danger, which means your life is in great danger. Because your life is controlled by delusion and engaged in karma, your suffering of samsara will be without end.

We blame and criticize others because we don't like suffering. But if we don't like suffering, we should not harm others and create disharmony; this is what interferes with our happiness. What we want and what we are doing are opposite.

Of course, this doesn't mean one can't point out others' mistakes at all. But when you do, as much as possible do it with loving kindness and compassion. For the sake of others, one can point out mistakes and make suggestions—this is how you discuss and communicate according to Dharma. This way there is no danger for oneself; one doesn't create negative karma, which throws oneself over the precipice of the three lower realms.

Although you do your meditation sessions and sadhanas and recite mantra, most of the day is wasted if your work is not connected to Dharma. Not only that, your precious human body is used to create the lower realms. Whatever you do must be according to lam-rim; that is the guideline for this life and future lives.

Being criticized and blamed by others

If you are being criticized by others, use it for Dharma practice, the path to enlightenment, the means for bringing happiness, temporal and ultimate, to all sentient beings. By utilizing the experience of the problem in this way, you can keep your mind in the state of happiness. With this thought transformation practice, the best practice of Dharma, one sacrifices one's own life for others in order to obtain their happiness.

This blaming, these complaints against "me," are the manifestation of many lifetimes of heavy karmas. Use it as much as possible to pacify your own anger and ill will towards others, which is the enemy of bodhicitta, in order to complete the paramita of patience, which is the path to enlightenment. Use it to develop bodhicitta by taking upon yourself all sentient beings' karma of receiving complaints and being blamed. Experience it for others.

Handling Criticism

A woman in Delhi, whose name was often in the press, had received criticism that she felt was unfair. She was extremely upset about this adverse press coverage, and came to ask for advice.

When something like this happens, think in this way: “I am not going to be here in this world forever, in Delhi with these society people.” This is also useful when experiencing very hurtful relationship problems, if the situation is really heavy and you feel you can’t bear it.

Think like this: “Actually, death can happen any time. Even today, at any moment, death can happen to me. So what is the point in being worried about bad reputation and all those words? There is no point at all.

“Even if I am criticized by every human being in this world, even by animals, insects, hell beings, hungry ghosts, devas, and asuras, it is nothing. It is not the first time I have experienced being criticized. Numberless times in the past I have experienced this. Not only have I been criticized, I have also had good reputations numberless times in the past, not only in this life, in past lives. Numberless times, I have had a great reputation. I have been the most famous person in the world.”

So, good and bad reputations are nothing new in samsara, and life is so short. It is like a dream, a one-time dream. It happens, and then it is gone. Like the duration of lightning, there’s a vivid appearance and the next minute, it’s gone. Thinking about impermanence and death is extremely important.

Regarding good reputation, it is said in the teachings by Milarepa, the great Tibetan yogi who became enlightened in one brief lifetime, that even though the sound of a thundering dragon is loud, it is empty sound. Even though the rainbow has such beautiful colors, it still disappears. The thundering sound refers to good and bad reputation, and the rainbow’s beautiful colors refer to a beautiful body.

The conclusion to what Milarepa is saying is not to cling. Of course, it doesn’t mean one shouldn’t have a good reputation. One can have a good reputation with a good heart. If having a good reputation is useful and it benefits others, then it is good, only in order to benefit and cause happiness to other living beings.

I often say in my lectures, having power and influence brings great danger for oneself and the world if one does not have a good heart in life. Therefore, these things, power and influence, are meaningless. But when one has a good heart and a mind to benefit others, having influence and power can be used to cause happiness for others. In these ways, these things become very meaningful.

In just this way, His Holiness the Dalai Lama or Shakyamuni Buddha have the best reputation, because there is no delusion, no defilements. The mind is completely pure and the actions are completely pure and performed only for others, not only with compassion and perfect power but with all wisdom and all the skills, so there is nothing to blame or to complain about. There is no cause for a bad reputation.

According to Western terminology, here is the best psychology. Or, in Buddhism, according to meditation, this is how one can transform problems into happiness: by enjoying the problems.

Not only can one enjoy having a good reputation, one can enjoy having a bad reputation. How? The secret key is to think of the benefits of having a bad reputation and to think of the advantage you gain from it. The most important benefit, the most extensive, precious, and greatest advantage, and the basic technique to gain it, is to use the problem. Use the reputation to destroy your ego, which is your biggest main enemy. The ego makes you encounter all the problems and causes others to abuse you, criticize you, and give you your bad reputation. If you destroy the ego, there is only ultimate good heart—in Sanskrit, bodhicitta: the thought of benefiting others, cherishing others; that very pure holy mind.

Having that makes you holy, called a bodhisattva, and ultimately makes you become a buddha. How? By making your mind cease all mistakes, defilements, and complete all the good qualities of the realizations. The advantage for you in becoming a perfect buddha is that the purpose of your life is not only to achieve happiness for yourself, but to cause happiness for all living beings, and free them from all the sufferings. By greatly benefiting others and bringing them to full enlightenment, peerless happiness, you also become a buddha and you have omniscience, perfect, complete, peerless power to cause all happiness for every living being, including enlightenment.

Experiencing problems for other living beings means developing compassion and loving kindness. By experiencing problems for others this way, you collect merit, good karma as vast as the sky, and the cause of happiness, and you purify inconceivable negative defilements. Whenever you encounter problems, you experience them for numberless others who are experiencing similar problems now and in the future.

This is how one can enjoy problems, gaining benefits as great as the sky. Each time you experience problems for others, you come closer to enlightenment, peerless happiness. With a good heart, when you are working for others, you are purifying so much of your own negative karma. It definitely gets purified, especially when you bear hardships working for others.

It is also mentioned in the teachings by the Kadampa Geshes, the great saints, that it is good that one gets criticized. Why? Because it is said by them that if one is praised by others, it develops pride. It lifts up the mind and makes one stuck up. But if one is criticized, it destroys one’s mistakes immediately. These mistaken actions bring problems now and in the future for oneself and for others. But if one is criticized, one comes to realize the mistakes that one was not aware of and this inspires one to change one’s attitude and life.

If one has comfort and happiness from having a good reputation or other things called good (one has to adapt this to one’s own circumstances), it sets ablaze the five poisonous delusions. If one is unhappy and suffering, that is, if one has problems, it finishes the negative karmas collected in the past. This is due to the guru’s kindness. Not everyone believes in the term ‘God’ so one can change the term from ‘God’ into ‘guru’. When the term guru doesn’t fit, then one can use the term God.

Problems are manifestations of emptiness, the ultimate nature. When one encounters unfortunate and undesirable situations, the teachings show how to look at them as positive.

It is also useful to think about His Holiness the Dalai Lama, whose qualities are beyond our conception, and who benefits numberless living beings in the world, and yet even many Tibetan people criticize His Holiness, although they themselves are Buddhists.

When Shakyamuni Buddha was in India, there were often sentient beings who criticized the Buddha, even though the Buddha has no delusions, no self-cherishing, no ignorance, no attachment, and no defilements. And, of course ,we are ordinary beings filled with delusions and continually making mistakes, so therefore it is natural that we get a bad reputation and criticism from others.

By thinking this way, relax and be happy when problems come. Just enjoy them, by using the problems for meditation. Think of the benefit, the unbelievable opportunity to quickly develop the mind on the path.

This way of thinking is not only for now. It can be used in all of your daily life. It is the best meditation.