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’s 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. They 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 changeless, absolute truth. Avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. Learn and practice nonattachment from views in order to be open to receive 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 before 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, including personal contact, visits, images, and sounds. By such means, 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 Fame, profit, 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 ideal 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.

~ •’…^ ~ •’…~ •’…^ ~ •’…^

Edited fromInterbeing: Fourteen Guidelines for Engaged Buddhism” 

We Are All Connected

I love the idea of Namasté…

              “The Divine in me recognizes and honors
                                                                                                   the Divine in you”.



There is a definition of God which has been repeated by many philosophers. God is an intelligible sphere—whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere. And the center is right where you’re sitting. And the other one is right where I’m sitting. And each of us is a manifestation of that mystery. That’s a nice mythological realization that sort of gives you a sense of who and what you are.” ~ Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

Although not everyone views Namasté this way – as a deeply spiritual acknowledgment of the soul in one,  by the soul in another – this is how I experience it.

Namasté represents a belief that:

  • The Life Force, the Divinity, the Self or the God, in me, is the same in all living things
  • That we are all made from the same One Divine Consciousness
  • According to one source I came across, a spiritual frequency is generated when two people greet each other with Namasté

    They wrote:

    When a person greets another with the feeling that “I am paying obeisance to the soul in the other”, a ring of spiritual emotion is created within him. Where there is spiritual emotion, there is Communion with God, and one is better able to access the sense of God’s presence. As a result, a ring of spiritual emotion  is created around the person who is being greeted as well. This in turn attracts a flow of the Divine Principle or God’s power. Wherever there is Divine Principle, a flow of Bliss is attracted.”   (Spiritual Research Foundation.org).

    Well, I don’t know about that – but I can sense that it may, in fact, be true…

    Namasté

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    Why Practice Mindfulness?

    Why Practice Mindfulness?

    peaceMindfulness-Based Stress Reduction pioneer Jon Kabat-Zinn shares several good reasons for us to make mindfulness part of our lives and our communities.

    The ultimate promise of mindfulness is much larger, much more profound, than simply cultivating our attentiveness. It helps us understand that our conventional view of ourselves and even what we mean by “self” is incomplete in some very important ways.

    Mindfulness helps us recognize how and why we mistake the actuality of things for some story we create. It then makes it possible for us to chart a path toward greater sanity, wellbeing, and purpose.

    “If our thinking is not balanced with awareness, we can end up deluded – Mistaking reality for some story  that we created.”

    Today, as we bring science together with meditation, we’re beginning to find new ways, in language we can all understand, to show the benefits of training oneself to become intimate with the workings of one’s own mind in a way that generates greater insight and clarity. The science is showing interesting and important health benefits of mind/body training and practices, and is now beginning to elucidate the various pathways though which mindfulness may be exerting its effects on the brain (emotion-regulation, working memory, cognitive control, attention, activation in specific somatic maps of the body, cortical thickening in specific regions) and the body (symptom reduction, greater physical well-being, immune function enhancement, epigenetic up and down regulation of activity in large numbers and classes of genes). It is also showing that meditation can bring a sense of meaning and purpose to life, based on understanding the non-separation of self and other. Given the condition we find ourselves in these days on this planet, understanding our interconnectedness is not a spiritual luxury; it’s a societal imperative.

    Even very, very smart people—and there are plenty of them around—are starting to recognize that thinking is only one of many forms of intelligence. If we don’t recognize the multiple dimensions of intelligence, we are hampering our ability to find creative solutions and outcomes for problems that don’t admit to simple-minded fixes. It’s like having a linear view in medicine that sees health care solely as fixing people up—an auto mechanic’s model of the body that doesn’t understand healing and transformation, doesn’t understand what happens when you harmonize mind and body. The element that’s missing in that mechanical understanding is awareness.

    Genuine awareness can modulate our thinking, so that we become less driven by unexamined motivations to put ourselves first, to control things to assuage our fear, to always proffer our brilliant answer. We can create an enormous amount of harm, for example, by not listening to other people who might have different views and insights. Fortunately, we have more of an opportunity these days to balance the cultivation of thinking with the cultivation of awareness. Anyone can restore some degree of balance between thinking and awareness right in this present moment, which is the only moment that any of us ever has anyway. The potential outcomes from purposefully learning to inhabit awareness and bring thought into greater balance are extremely positive and healthy for ourselves and the world at large.

    Working on our mindfulness, by ourselves and along with others, hinges on appreciating the power of awareness to balance thought. There’s nothing wrong with thinking. So much that is beautiful comes out of thinking and out of our emotions. But if our thinking is not balanced with awareness, we can end up deluded, perpetually lost in thought, and out of our minds just when we need them the most.

    Jon Kaba t-Zinn is the founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He is  the author of Coming to Our Senses: Healing the World and Ourselves through Mindfulness.   Article from Shambala Sun

     Recognizing Soul in everyday life

     We sense, intuitively, that there is a soul. 

    For me, it feels like eternal wisdom… it is the part of me that knows I am one with everything… that know’s everything is okay.

    It is calm, By Michael Pravin from Chennai, India - Surya Namaskar, ccommons.wiki:index.php?curid=41696116

    radiating,

    loving,

    peaceful.

    This inner awareness has guided me – when I remember to tap into it.

    Pause a moment to  examine how you experience soul… have you found a way to tap into it?

     

    Try This for a Mindfulness Moment


    Tree Tunnel, Sena de Luna, Spain

    Imagine walking this path…      What fills your senses?

       What do you See?     Smell?

       What do you Feel?    Hear?

    I see green, pink, red and purple.  🎨   I see a beckoning future…  I see shadow and light.
    I smell the earth,  water and a  sweet aroma…  🌺💧
    I feel the breeze  and  the sun  on my skin…
    I hear the rustling of leaves  and the  sound of birds…
    🎶 🎵

    Being in the present moment, tuned into your senses, can wipe your stress away… Meditation with pleasant imagery can do the same.

     

     

    One Trick to Learn To Relax

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    Here’s a  visualization I use in relaxation meditation exercises:

    Inhale … as the ocean  rushes out to sea…

    Exhale … as the water topples over, creating a wave…

    See the regular rise … and fall … of the ocean’s water.

    This beautiful rhythm reminds me of the breath of Life.

    Can you feel it?

    Mindlessness Versus Mindfulness

    Ellen Langer and mindfulness

    Ellen Langer studies the Science of Mindlessness and Mindfulness. She asserts that the idea of being in the moment doesn’t feel very instructional because when we are not in the moment we don’t notice. Same with the idea of being present.

    Instead, Ellen suggests “noticing.”

    As children we have a very instinctual, natural way of noticing things and people. Then they begin to teach us that these things are called names and then they give us their opinions about them which we take as being the facts, or the truth.

    Our Experience of Everything is Formed by the Words and Ideas We Attach to Them

    Dr. Langer’s take on mindfulness has never involved contemplation or meditation or yoga. It comes straight out of her provocative, unconventional studies, which have been suggesting for decades what neuroscience is pointing at now: our experience of everything is formed by the words and ideas we attach to them. What makes a vacation a vacation is not only a change of scenery — but the fact that we let go of the mindless everyday illusion that we are we need to be in control. Ellen Langer has shown it’s possible to become physiologically younger through a changed frame of mind; and to find joy in what was experienced as drudgery by renaming it as play.

    But if you go home tonight and pretend you don’t know anything, no words, no concepts, you will experience a new level of being alive! My husband and I did this for fun the other day. We looked at our houseplants with as few concepts as we could muster. Suddenly the various colors (of green) became vivid. The textures were also alive.  The light danced on the leaves, revealing various twists and bends, shine and mute-tones. It was amazing.

    As we evolve, we eventually have the wisdom that there are different ways of looking at things yet our personal way of looking at things remains somewhat constant. When we become aware that there are different ways of looking at things, she calls it “awareness of uncertainty.”

    Awareness of Uncertainty

    Ellen suggests that we look at uncertainty in two ways – there is personal uncertainty and universal uncertainty.  

    Personal uncertainty is “I don’t know – maybe you know” or “I don’t know and I’m gonna pretend I know.”  These are ways of organizing and stabilizing the universe.

    Universal uncertainty is “I don’t know you and you don’t know me. In fact in some ways we can’t ever know.” 

    From a place of universal uncertainty the conversation proceeds very differently. For example if you do something and I look at it in a kind of a mindless way I’m going to resort to my personal uncertainty and I’m going to think that I know your motives and make all kinds of conclusions about why you did what you did and whether not it meets my approval.

    From the universal perspective I can’t know what you did or why you did it, but I can know that, for you, given your life, it makes sense for you, from your perspective. From here ask yourself “why would a reasonable, logical person do such a thing?”

    Ellen Langer is a social psychologist who some have dubbed “the mother of mindfulness.” But she defines mindfulness with counterintuitive simplicity: the simple act of actively noticing things — with a result of increased health, competence, and happiness. Her take on mindfulness has never involved contemplation or meditation or yoga. It comes straight out of her provocative, unconventional studies, which have been suggesting for decades what neuroscience is pointing at now: our experience of everything is formed by the words and ideas we attach to them. What makes a vacation a vacation is not only a change of scenery — but the fact that we let go of the mindless everyday illusion that we are we need to be in control. Ellen Langer has shown it’s possible to become physiologically younger through a changed frame of mind; and to find joy in what was experienced as drudgery by renaming it as play.

    DR. LANGER: I don’t think you can make a decision that I’m going to be present. What does that mean? People who tell you to meditate assume that over time,  you will become “present”.

    But if you’re actively noticing things, you’re going to go home tonight and if you live with somebody, notice five new things about that person. Be very specific. What will happen is the person will start to come alive for you again. And that will improve the relationship.

    Article Sources:

    Mindlessness and Mindfulness – On Being with Ellen Langer

    Ellen Langer and Mindfulness -Harvard

    Books by Ellen Langer