The Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind
Precious Human Birth
- Having received this precious gift, what will you do with it?
- What is your highest human purpose?
- What more can you do with your life?
- Can we move beyond self-concern and begin to deepen our relationship with life and one another?
Chiggala Sutta: The Hole
"Monks, suppose that this great earth were totally covered with water, and a man were to toss a yoke with a single hole there. A wind from the east would push it west, a wind from the west would push it east. A wind from the north would push it south, a wind from the south would push it north. And suppose a blind sea-turtle were there. It would come to the surface once every one hundred years. Now what do you think: would that blind sea-turtle, coming to the surface once every one hundred years, stick his neck into the yoke with a single hole?"
"It would be a sheer coincidence, lord, that the blind sea-turtle, coming to the surface once every one hundred years, would stick his neck into the yoke with a single hole."
"It's likewise a sheer coincidence that one obtains the human state. It's likewise a sheer coincidence that a Tathagata, worthy & rightly self-awakened, arises in the world. It's likewise a sheer coincidence that a doctrine & discipline expounded by a Tathagata appears in the world. Now, this human state has been obtained. A Tathagata, worthy & rightly self-awakened, has arisen in the world. A doctrine & discipline expounded by a Tathagata appears in the world.
"Therefore your duty is the contemplation, 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress.' Your duty is the contemplation, 'This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.'"
Everyday, think as you wake up
Today I am fortunate to have woken up,
I am alive,
I have a precious human life,
I am not going to waste it,
I am going to use all my energies to develop myself.
To expand my heart out to others,
To achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings,
I am going to have kind thoughts towards others,
I am not going to get angry, or think badly about others.
I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”
~ H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama
Impermanence & the Inevitability of Death
What do I tend to hold on to?
What do I fear letting go of?
What prevents me from allowing life to simply happen?
Have I accepted my own death?
This body, bhikkhus, is perishable, consciousness is of a nature to dissolve, and all objects of clinging are impermanent, suffering and subject to change.
Impermanence is chosen as a worthy object of meditation in Buddhism because, although we may understand it intellectually, we mostly do not behave as though we have integrated this awareness. A combination of analysis and concentration on this topic brings the insight to life so that we appreciate the preciousness of every moment of our experience.
-The Dalai Lama
If we are not empty, we become a block of matter.
We cannot breathe, we cannot think.
To be empty means to be alive, to breathe in and to breathe out. We cannot be alive if we are not empty.
Emptiness is impermanence, it is change.
We should not complain about impermanence,
because without impermanence, nothing is possible.
-Thich Nhat Hanh
“Life and death are of supreme importance. Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost. Each of us should strive to awaken. Awaken! Take heed, do not squander your life.”
- Dōgen -
Karma or The Awesome and Indelible Power of Our Actions
How am I living?
Where do I commonly place my attention?
What do I practice most frequently?
What kind of actions do I take in the world?
Am I a force for good in the world or am I just another person doing nothing to help and therefore making things worse?
"Do not think a small sin will not return in your future lives.
Just as falling drops of water will fill a large container,
The little sins that steadfast accumulate will completely overwhelm you. Do not think a small virtue will not return in your future lives.
Just as falling drops of water will fill a large container,
The little virtues that steadfast accumulate will completely overwhelm you.”
- Buddha -
“The future enters into us, in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens.”
- Rilke -
“...every moment of our lives up to this moment, in which you are holding this book [looking at your computer], with whatever degree of seriousness of intention you have been able to muster — every moment so far in our lives, we fave been affecting the world in some subtle yet real way; every moment, we have been participating in creating the world that now exists for ourselves and others. Everything in our live is important. Everything matter. There are no trivial throwaway moments.”
- Norman Fischer -
Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
- Unknown source -
What if our religion was each other?
If our practice was our life?
If prayer was our words?
What if the Temple was the Earth?
If forests were our church?
If holy water—the rivers, lakes and oceans?
What if meditation was our relationships?
If the Teacher was life?
If wisdom was self-knowledge?
If love was the center of our being?
- Ganga White -
The Defects of Samsara/The Inescapability of Suffering
Can you think of any times in your life where suffering brought about opportunity?
In what ways do you avoid suffering?
What do I most fear about confronting my own suffering?
How could I more deeply connect with the suffering of others?
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
- Lynn Ungar 3/11/20 -
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
- Rumi -