Getting Clear With the Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh

I know I could use a reminder of what really matters…

We do our best when we remember that we are all connected… Let’s remember to look at our judgements with some detachment, and dare to ask ourselves, “Is It True?

The Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Hanh developed the “Fourteen Precepts of Engaged Buddhism” in the mid-1960’, at a time when the Vietnam War was escalating and the teachings of the Buddha were desperately needed to combat the hatred, violence, and divisiveness enveloping his country.

Today, there are thousands worldwide who regularly recite the Fourteen Precepts of Engaged Buddhism which remain uniquely applicable to contemporary moral dilemmas. These are guidelines for anyone wishing to live mindfully.

“By developing peace and serenity through ethical and conscientious living, we can help our society make the transition from one based on greed and consumerism to one in which thoughtfulness and compassionate action are of the deepest value.”. – Fred Eppsteiner

 The Fourteen Precepts of Engaged Buddhism

  1. Do not be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. Buddhist systems of thought are guiding means — they are not absolute truth.
  2. Do not think the knowledge you presently possess is absolute truth. Avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. Learn and practice nonattachment in order to be open and able to hear others’ viewpoints. Truth is found in life and not merely in conceptual knowledge. Be ready to learn throughout your entire life and to observe reality in yourself and in the world at all times.
  3. Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education. However, through compassionate dialogue, help others renounce fanaticism and narrowness.
  4. Do not avoid contact with suffering or close your eyes to suffering. Do not lose awareness of the existence of suffering in the life of the world. Find ways to be with those who are suffering. Awaken yourself and others to the reality of suffering in the world.
  5. Do not accumulate wealth while millions are hungry. Do not take as the aim of your life to profit, accumulate wealth or sensual pleasure. Live simply and share time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need.
  6. Do not maintain anger or hatred. Learn to penetrate and transform them when they are still seeds in your consciousness. As soon as they arise, turn your attention to your breath in order to see and understand the nature of your hatred.
  7. Do not lose yourself in dispersion and in your surroundings. Practice mindful breathing to come back to what is happening in the present moment. Be in touch with what is wondrous, refreshing, and healing — both inside and around you. Plant seeds of joy, peace, and understanding in yourself in order to facilitate the work of transformation in the depths of your consciousness.
  8. Do not utter words that can create discord and cause the community to break. Make every effort to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.
  9. Do not say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest or to impress people. Do not utter words that cause division and hatred. Do not spread news that you do not know to be certain. Do not criticize or condemn things of which you are not sure. Always speak truthfully and constructively. Have the courage to speak out about situations of injustice, even when doing so may threaten your own safety.
  10. Do not use the Buddhist community for personal gain or profit, or transform your community into a political party. A religious community, however, should take a clear stand against oppression and injustice and should strive to change the situation without engaging in partisan conflicts.
  11. Do not live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature. Do not invest in companies that deprive others of their chance to live. Select a vocation that helps realize your ideals of compassion.
  12. Do not kill. Do not let others kill. Find whatever means possible to protect life and prevent war.
  13. Possess nothing that should belong to others. Respect the property of others, but prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other species on Earth.
  14. Do not mistreat your body. Learn to handle it with respect. Do not look on your body as only an instrument. Preserve vital energies (sexual, breath, spirit) for the realization of the Way. (For brothers and sisters who are not monks and nuns:) Sexual expression should not take place without love and commitment. In sexual relationships, be aware of future suffering that may be caused. To preserve the happiness of others, respect the rights and commitments of others. Be fully aware of the responsibility of bringing new lives into the world. Meditate on the world into which you are bringing new beings.

Question — Which of these will help you right now?

Edited fromInterbeing: Fourteen Guidelines for Engaged Buddhism” 

To Live Our Lives Like Water

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courtesy of: HaPe_Gera

A Guide For Living

Worth Reading! From Off the Web   By:  Parker J. Palmer, On Being columnist

The best are like water…

The best, like water,
Benefit all and do not compete.
They dwell in lowly spots that everyone else scorns.
Putting others before themselves,
They find themselves in the foremost place
And come very near to the Tao.
In their dwelling, they love the earth;
In their heart, they love what is deep;
In personal relationships, they love kindness;
In their words, they love truth.
In the world, they love peace.
In personal affairs, they love what is right.
In action, they love choosing the right time.
It is because they do not compete with others
That they are beyond the reproach of the world.

I’ve been drawn to Taoism ever since I read Thomas Merton’s 1965 book, The Way of Chuang Tzu. The teachings of Chuang Tzu — a 4th century BC Chinese Taoist master — introduced me to a spiritual path often called “the watercourse way.

Taoism counsels us to live our lives like water, but that does not mean “go with the flow” passivity. Taoism is all about nonviolent action. It invites us to flow quietly but persistently around the obstacles that stand between us and the common good, wearing them down as a river erodes boulders.

I don’t think Taoism — or any other wisdom tradition — has the whole answer to living well. Sometimes we must swim upstream against cruelty, injustice and untruth.

But rightly understood, Taoism is an important corrective to the Western obsession with force, even violence, as the way to get things done — which often results in little more than an escalation of violence.

The passage above is from the Taoist master Lao Tzu who names a few of the virtues that come from living  “the watercourse way.”  They won’t make you rich or famous. But they serve the common good, make life worth living, and help keep hope alive!

9 Pieces of Wisdom…

… That Will Transform Your Life

Worth Reading – From Off the Web!

This article by Raven Fon describes 9 pieces of Buddhist wisdom that will show you how to transform your life into something more meaningful, more beautiful, and full of peace and happiness. Below are a few of my fav’s (edited). Find the full article HERE: http://www.ewao.com/a/1-11-pieces-of-buddhist-wisdom-that-will-transform-your-life

1.  Live A Life Of Compassion

and spirit

and spirit

Compassion isn’t only beneficial to the world as a whole, and it isn’t only important because it’s considered “the right thing to do”.  A critical part of finding peace within yourself –  is self-compassion. When we learn to forgive ourselves and accept our humanness, we can go through healing and move on from difficult challenges that hold us back.

When we agonize over someone else’s behavior, it’s because we don’t understand why someone would do a certain thing or act a certain way. By applying the basic premise of compassion, we first remember the inherit goodness in every living thing, man, woman and child. Then, seeking to find that goodness in specific people. Compassion helps us when undergoing the mental torture of not understanding the actions of others.

Simply connecting with others through the act of compassion can be a great source of joy, for both parties involved.
There are many reasons for practicing compassion. Try to live in a way where everyone is equal – treat others how you want to be treated. Even though this may seem tricky at first, stick with it and you will see the power of being compassionate.

2.  Make Connections, And Nurture Them

We are often in groups of forced connections, with a lesser goal in mind than consciousness. Monetary gain, substantial growth, control and power bring us together during the work week, but what if we made connections for a greater cause?
Buddhism calls a “sangha” a community of persons who work towards the mutual goal of awakening for themselves and all beings. Sangha is a principal the entire world could benefit from, yet can be expressed in your own life in a multitude of ways.

Being fully aware of the power of truly connecting with others, whether it’s one person or a hundred, and nurturing that connection, will transform your life in ways that will continue to bless you for years to come.

3.  Be Awake

Being mindful, having a greater awareness, paying attention to the little things, whatever you call it- it can alter every facet in your life, in every way possible. Try to live completely awake in each moment of your day. This will help you to overcome personal struggles, find a deeper sense of peace and happiness, and understand that the greatest life lessons learned are taught to us when we are fully awake to the present moment.

4.  Be The Change You Wish To See

Try to do more than be a help to others; instead, be an example.

5.  Embracing Death

Rather than shielding ourselves from death, we need to open ourselves up to the concept. By accepting our mortality and cherishing our moments here, now, we can appreciate the numerous joys in our everyday lives.

6.  Being Mindful of our food

There is a Buddhist meditative practice involving mindfulness and contemplation, which helps us understand the precious nature of the food we eat.  As we contemplate and think about the food on our plate, we start to understand the immense system of interconnectedness in our lives, and how many elements had to be in place for it to get there.
This will help us to deepen our relationship with food, give us a greater sense of gratitude at the start of each meal, and learn to respect the fragile balance of life.

7.  Removing the Three Poisons

Life is filled with plenty of good things. On the other end, life has it’s share of negative things as well. Vices are qualities that in fact bind us to unwholesome ways of living, causing a sense of separation, and therefore remove us from the true purpose of life. Within all of these things, these three poisons are the most powerful: 1- Greed,  2- Hatred,  and  3- Delusion.

When you start to experience any of the three poisons, become aware of it and work at removing it from your life.

8.  Realize Non-Attachment

A Buddhist sense of non-attachment means to live in a way where you coexist with the natural flow of life, while simultaneously not allowing yourself to become attached to the things in your life. It means to live constantly aware of the impermanence of all people and things.

9.  Live Deeply

To live deeply, with awareness, allows us to learn the beautifully profound natural laws of the universe. This allows us to savor every experience in life, to feel peace in even the most tedious of tasks, as well as transform negative experiences into something that nourishes and heals.Being Alive copy
When you realize your interconnectedness (you see how everything is connected to everything else) and impermanence (you see how everything constantly changes and constantly dies in order to be reborn) you begin to grasp the sheer mystery of this amazing existence called life!

http://www.ewao.com/a/1-11-pieces-of-buddhist-wisdom-that-will-transform-your-life

Written by Raven Fon. Check out her blog:  MysticalRaven.com  Edited for readability

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The Transience of Life and Happiness – A Buddhist’s View

Worth reading – From off the Web!

An excellently articulated discussion about Being of the World… while freeing the self from participating in (what is optional) suffering. Profound!

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“Seeing all things as naked, clear and free from obscurations, there is nothing to attain or realize. The nature of phenomena appears naturally and is naturally present in time-transcending awareness. Everything is naturally perfect just as it is. All phenomena appear in their uniqueness as part of the continually changing pattern. These patterns are vibrant with meaning and significance at every moment; yet there is no significance to attach to beyond themselves.” ~ Khyentse Rinpoche, Tibetan Master

How does the Buddhist’s philosophy of the twofold Emptiness lead to the full understanding of the transience of life and happiness?

Experiential insight.

A method many Buddhist Masters employ to help students understand the transience of happiness is to tear away any lingering remnants of support – no comforting religious consolation or conceptual crutch to cling to – leaving the disciple with nothing to fall back on. The purpose is to fully plunge them into the Unknown, beyond philosophies and partial realizations, and into the direct realization of the two-fold emptiness of self and phenomena.

There is no path, nor any such thing as progress. Reality is not some sort of achievement that occurs by a progression from state to state. There is no final, triumphant union to be attained, because there never was any separation. There is simply the unfathomable expanse of spontaneous presence, pure unborn awareness, regardless of any intermittent mental content which might appear in that sphere of being. Recognizing the empty nature of both the dreaming as well as the dreamer is considered by the sages to be liberation, although paradoxically, there is no body being freed or bound. There is simply awakening to that which has always been the case, even as we daydreamed.

This challenging realization forces the aspirant to let go of all gaining ideas, along with all the interpretive dualities of the intellect that represent fixation, reification, and solidification of perception, thus opening them to direct and immediate re-cognition of the prior freedom of the Real.

And what is “the Real”?

Of course, such appealing notions as inherent perfection are easy for beginners and casual practitioners to misconstrue, especially when they hear that there is nothing that needs to be done, and no effort is necessary, because “enlightenment” is always already the case. However, if we do not want to fall into that trap, all we need do is take a good honest look in the mirror at our own character. Are we free, for example, from greed, envy, hatred, ignorance, and pride? Do we always live a life characterized by integrity and loving kindness? If not, then there is still work to do, even though, paradoxically, it is also true that there is nothing to be done.

If we rely on the verbal, conceptual mind to make sense of that seeming contradiction, we will just end up going this way one day, and that way the next, while getting nowhere in the process. That is why we practice, to go beyond conditional second-hand reason and logic programs, and recognize the truth that is always right here, staring us in the face. In that conscious process, we don’t need to point some accusatory finger at ourselves, or wring our hands in self-concern, but simply wise up to exactly who “that one” is that we have taken to be “me”. Who is this character believed to be either perfect, or in need of some serious adjustments?

Another good example of the paradox being considered here is the common phrase: “We must forgive ourselves first, and then forgive everyone else.” Of course, in this human drama, forgiveness is not only appropriate, but critically necessary for our relationships and personal happiness. If we carry around unresolved traumas, wounds, regrets, and resentments, we will always be fueling an internal conflict, and never achieve psychological healing and mature adaptation to the stage of balanced and un-contracted emotional adulthood.

On the other hand, from the point of view of the higher wisdoms, there is actually nothing and nobody that needs to be forgiven, since at the absolute level, all is indeed perfect just as it is, and without qualification. Even conceiving the existence of a self, some solid and enduring character that requires fixing or forgiving, can be an impediment to fully awakening to the truth of our prior nature, which has never required modification or remedial attention.

Another contemporary Dzogchen Master, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, puts it this way:

“From the very beginning everything, whatever appears and exits, has never been anything other than pure perfection. There has never been a single day, a single moment when everything was not complete purity, pure perfection. It’s not that everything has to be brought to a state of purity at some point, but rather that it always was and is.”

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Indeed, the paradox of our prior freedom and inherent perfection is that, “You are all perfect the way you are, and you could use a little improvement.”  (Zen Master Suzuki Roshi).   If we examine our own life and relations, including our thoughts and behaviors, most of us might readily acknowledge that “a little improvement” would probably be a good idea.

How then to explain this paradox? A good start would be to understand that we are both human animals, with all the positive as well as negative attributes the word animal implies, and yet we are also immortal spirit, forever free, awake, and unconditionally loving. Our souls chose to inhabit human life in order to experience the kinds of adventures and challenges characteristic of the human species. By testing ourselves to see “what we are really made of”, we enhance our levels of self-awareness in our soul evolution.

As humans, we enter into the virtual reality of this 3-D realm in the same way one might engage a video game. The trick, however, is to recognize that we generally assume a kind of amnesia about our true nature for the duration of the game, in order to get the full impact of the experience. In doing so, we take the human identity to represent who and what we really are, and this mistaken identity is rarely questioned in the midst of the adventure. By fusing with the human bio-vehicle, we thus become subject to its complications, which include less than perfect qualities.

There is more to this story, however. Ultimately, we are not only not the human animal, but we are not even the soul being. In reality, we are dream characters in the Mind of Source, being lived by Source in a drama of unfathomable love. It is unfathomable, because it is beyond the human capacity to comprehend, and so is typically misunderstood and misrepresented by the religions that humans have created to provide explanations for the Mystery.

Source wants to explore Itself, in much the same way we want to explore our own breadth and depth by incarnating as humans, for example, among the countless possibilities we may and do choose. Thus, in our role as immortal souls, we afford Source the perfect vehicles for such exploration, and as such, we are in a sense co-creators of a movie entitled “Infinity”.

In any case, as dream characters, there is nothing in need of forgiveness or improvement. Just as we are, with all our seeming faults and foibles, we are perfectly fulfilling Source’s desire to know Itself, in all the possible permutations of Itself which It can manifest. Source does not need to improve or forgive us, any more than we need to enter back into last night’s dream to improve or forgive our own dream characters, once we have awoken. It was, after all, a dream. There is no judgment, no blame or punishment — only a thirst for experience, in whatever way it might happen to present itself, or in whatever form it might happen to manifest, as we enter into the compelling illusion of time and space as shards of Source’s own divine light, playing our parts perfectly.

Original post:

https://theconsciousprocess.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/the-paradox-of-inherent-perfection/   (edited for readability).

“Do we always live a life characterized by integrity and loving kindness? If not, then there is still work to do, even though, paradoxically, it is also true that there is nothing to be done. ”

I think this really sums it up. We can recognize those human qualities that argue with – and so separate us from – our oneness/nirvana/enlightened states. The skill of observing ego as well as the body sensations that tell us we are not in reality, are cues to re-center. Once you have the skill-set, I think you have the flowing choice.

What are your thoughts?

 

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