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Showing posts from May, 2013

Rare and Precious Joy

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When I talk to people about how much they experience joy, most say, “Not so much.” Joy is not a frequent visitor, and when it does appear, it’s fleeting.
Joy arises when we are open to both the beauty and suffering inherent in living. Like a great sky that includes all different types of weather, joy is an expansive quality of presence. It says “Yes to life, no matter what!”  Yet it’s infrequency lets us know our more habitual posture: resisting what’s happening, saying “No” to the life that is here and now.  We tend to override our innate capacity for joy with our incessant inner dialogue, our chronic attempts to avoid unpleasantness and to hold on to pleasure. Rather than joy in the present moment, we are trying to get somewhere else, to experience something that is better, different.
The great French writer, André Gide, said: “Know that joy is rarer, more difficult and more beautiful than sadness. Once you make this all-important discovery, you must embrace joy as a moral obligati…

Compassion

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This is one of my favorite little stories:
One afternoon, a tired-looking dog wandered into my yard and followed me through the door into the house. He went down the hall, lay down on the couch and slept there for an hour.
Since my dogs didn’t seem to mind his presence, and he seemed like a good dog, I was okay with him being there, so I let him nap.  An hour later he went to the door motioned for me to let him out and off he went.
The next day, much to my surprise, he was back.  He resumed his position on the couch and slept for another hour.
This continued for several weeks. Finally, curious, I pinned a note to his collar, and on that note I wrote, “Every afternoon your dog comes to my house for a nap. I don’t mind, but I want to make sure it’s okay with you.”
The next day he arrived with a different note pinned to his collar. “He lives in a home with three children in it.  He’s trying to catch up on his sleep. May I come with him tomorrow?”
While lighthearted, this points toward the mood…

A Heart That Is Ready for Anything

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When the Buddha was dying, he gave a final message to his beloved attendant Ananda, and to generations to come: “Be a lamp unto yourself, be a refuge to yourself. Take yourself to no external refuge.”
In his last words, the Buddha was urging us to see this truth: although you may search the world over trying to find it, your ultimate refuge is none other than your own being.
There’s a bright light of awareness that shines through each of us and guides us home, and we’re never separated from this luminous awareness, any more than waves are separated from ocean. Even when we feel most ashamed or lonely, reactive or confused, we’re never actually apart from the awakened state of our heart-mind.
This is a powerful and beautiful teaching. The Buddha was essentially saying: I’m not the only one with this light; all ordinary humans have this essential wakefulness, too. In fact, this open, loving awareness is our deepest nature. We don’t need to get somewhere or change ourselves: our true refu…

It's not what's happening...it's how you respond

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One of my favorite stories took place a number of decades ago when the English had colonized India and they wanted to set up a golf course in Calcutta. Besides the fact that the English shouldn’t have been there in the first place, the golf course was not a particularly good idea. The biggest challenge was that the area was populated with monkeys.
The monkeys apparently were interested in golf too, and their way of joining the game was to go onto the course and take the balls that the golfers were hitting and toss them around in all directions. Of course the golfers didn’t like this at all, so they tried to control the monkeys. First they built high fences around the fairway; they went to a lot of trouble to do this. Now, monkeys climb…so, they would climb over the fences and onto the course . . . that solution just didn’t work at all.
The next thing they tried was to lure them away from the course. I don’t know how they tried to lure them—maybe waving bananas or something—but for ev…