Continuation

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What you think, what you say, and what you do is your continuation – a kind of energy that will continue for a long time. When your body has disintegrated, you continue onward because of the three kinds of energy that you produce everyday. After you leave this active form of being, you acquire other forms of being, because the energy you produce will result in new forms.

It’s like a cloud. When a cloud is no longer a cloud, it is something else, like rain or snow or hail. So when you don’t see a cloud in the sky, you don’t say that it’s no longer there. It is still there in other forms. That is also true with a human being. When you are no longer in this form of body, then your action – your karma, what you produce in terms of thinking and speech and action – is your continuation. That’s why when you practice mindfulness, concentration, and insight, you can assure a good, beautiful continuation in the future.

– Thich Nhat Hanh

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Interbeing

lotus and koi
Thich Nhat Hanh is well known for coining the term “interbeing,” which refers to the interconnectedness of all things. Over the years, he has frequently used the image of a flower to explain this teaching. Sunflower, orchid, lotus – if you are mindful and concentrated, you can see that a flower is made of infinite non-flower elements. A flower is made up of not just rain but also the cloud that released the rain. It’s made up of not just soil but also the decomposed plants and animals that enrich the soil. If you remove any of the non-flower elements from the flower, the flower ceases to exist. “So the flower cannot exist alone,” Thich Nhat Hanh told me. “It has to inter-be with everything else in the cosmos.” The same is true of people. “A human being is made of non-human elements, and if you remove the non-human elements, the human being is no longer there. So a human cannot be by herself alone. She has to inter-be with everything else in the cosmos.”
“It’s like the lotus and the mud. Without the mud, you cannot grow a lotus. Without the mud of suffering, you cannot create happiness. This is why, if you touch the nature of interbeing, you don’t try to run away from suffering anymore. Instead you try to embrace your suffering. You look deeply into it to understand its nature and to lean how to make good use of suffering to produce happiness.”

– Andrea Miller interviewing Thich Nhat Hanh (from Shambhala Sun issue January 2013)

Chan Khong on Mindfulness


The key…is to practice mindfulness. “When your body and mind are not one, you do not see deeply,” she says. “You are in front of your brother, but your mind is on many other things, so you don’t really see your brother. Maybe he is having some trouble, but you don’t see it, not even when you share the same room. But mindfulness brings you there, to the present, and then you see. Train yourself all day long to bring your mind to your body and to be present with your food, your friends, your work, everything, because the more you concentrate, the deeper you will see.”

– Chan Khong (from Shambhala Sun issue May 2012)

Human


“Let your mind flow, free from attachment to your belongings, ideas, agendas, schedule, passions – your very self identity, and develop the wisdom, self-detachment, and equanimity that realizes that all things are essentially equal. Each of us is unique, but we are not especially special; we are all interconnected notes in the same cosmic symphony. We may be differently shaped clay pots, but we are all made from the same mortal clay. Develop a god’s eye view and appreciate the wisdom of clear vision.” – Lama Surya Das

Diamond Like Vision

– Lama Surya Das, Awakening the Buddha Within

“Develop a mind that clings to nothing” is a meditative maxim that comes from the Diamond Sutra, one of the wisdom scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism. The original Sanskrit name for this sutra refers to the diamond that can cut anything but cannot itself be cut. In this case, the word “diamond” refers to the keen discriminating edge of penetrating wisdom.

A large part of clear vision and diamond like wisdom is seeing everything exactly as it is with all its magical but ephemeral beauty. The wise mind understands the limits in hanging on to that which is transient and dreamlike. The awakened mind is free flowing, natural, and well rounded. It’s like Teflon – nothing sticks. On the other hand, the unawakened, ordinary mind is rigid, limited, and sticky like fly paper; the ordinary mind has corners and sharp jagged edges on which ideas get caught, hanging us up. Dualistic thinking is like Velcro; it takes two to tangle. Unitary vision is more like a crystal though which all forms of light can pass unimpeded.

In life this is played out when we find it difficult to shake off our thoughts or worries, as well as unable to get off our fixed positions and entrenched opinions. Even insignificant emotional memories don’t roll off; instead they get attached and stuck; sometimes they fester and rot in place. The unawakened mind tries to grasp and hold on to emotions and things, which by their very nature are fleeting; it’s like trying to grasp water between your hands.

If we understand that the cause of suffering and dissatisfaction is attachment, then it’s obvious that the remedy is simply letting go. This is an absolutely essential ingredient in the Buddhist recipe for wisdom and enlightenment. Why are we afraid to let go and let the natural mind just be as it is, radiant, free, and aware? Why do we hold on to the past and resist the fresh current of newness? Neurotic behavior is sometimes defined as a frozen pattern. It’s very therapeutic to thaw our frozen patterns and develop spontaneity and awareness of “what is” and the joy of the present moment. If you cling to nothing, you can handle anything. This is wisdom. Try to grasp this but lightly.

Let your mind flow, free from attachment to your belongings, ideas, agendas, schedule, passions – your very self identity, and develop the wisdom, self-detachment, and equanimity that realizes that all things are essentially equal. Each of us is unique, but we are not especially special; we are all interconnected notes in the same cosmic symphony. We may be differently shaped clay pots, but we are all made from the same mortal clay. Develop a god’s eye view and appreciate the wisdom of clear vision.

Revenge

Poem by Taha Muhammad Ali

At times … I wish
I could meet in a duel
the man who killed my father
and razed our home,
expelling me
into
a narrow country.
And if he killed me,
I’d rest at last,
and if I were ready—
I would take my revenge!

*

But if it came to light,
when my rival appeared,
that he had a mother
waiting for him,
or a father who’d put
his right hand over
the heart’s place in his chest
whenever his son was late
even by just a quarter-hour
for a meeting they’d set—
then I would not kill him,
even if I could.

*

Likewise … I
would not murder him
if it were soon made clear
that he had a brother or sisters
who loved him and constantly longed to see him.
Or if he had a wife to greet him
and children who
couldn’t bear his absence
and whom his gifts would thrill.
Or if he had
friends or companions,
neighbors he knew
or allies from prison
or a hospital room,
or classmates from his school …
asking about him
and sending him regards.

*

But if he turned
out to be on his own—
cut off like a branch from a tree—
without a mother or father,
with neither a brother nor sister,
wifeless, without a child,
and without kin or neighbors or friends,
colleagues or companions,
then I’d add not a thing to his pain
within that aloneness—
not the torment of death,
and not the sorrow of passing away.
Instead I’d be content
to ignore him when I passed him by
on the street—as I
convinced myself
that paying him no attention
in itself was a kind of revenge.

Gossip

From the movie “Doubt”

A woman was gossiping with a friend about a man she hardly knew – I know none of you have ever done this – that night she had a dream. A great hand appeared over her and pointed down at her. She was immediately seized with an overwhelming sense of guilt. The next day she went to confession. She got the old parish priest, Father O’Rourke, and she told him the whole thing.

‘Is gossiping a sin?’ she asked the old man. ‘Was that the hand of God Almighty pointing a finger at me? Should I be asking your absolution? Father, tell me, have I done something wrong?’

‘Yes!’ Father O’Rourke answered her. ‘Yes, you ignorant, badly broughtup female! You have borne false witness against your neighbor, you have played fast and loose with his reputation, and you should be heartily ashamed!’

So the woman said she was sorry and asked for forgiveness.

‘Not so fast!’ says O’Rourke. ‘I want you to go home, take a pillow up on your roof, cut it open with a knife, and return here to me!’

So the woman went home, took a pillow off her bed, a knife from the drawer, went up the fire escape to the roof, and stabbed the pillow. Then she went back to the old parish priest as instructed.

‘Did you gut the pillow with the knife?’ he says.

‘Yes, Father.’

‘And what was the result?’

‘Feathers,’ she said.

‘Feathers?’ he repeated.

‘Feathers everywhere, Father!’

‘Now I want you to go back and gather up every last feather that flew out on the wind!’

‘Well,’ she said, ‘it can’t be done. I don’t know where they went. The wind took them all over.’

‘And that,’ said Father O’Rourke, ‘is GOSSIP!