My Morning Meditation

I have been asked a few times if I have a morning meditation, and if so, would I share it. I do, and I will.

Imagine that you are standing alone on a warm mountain side, high up, above the tree line. Your bare feet are nestled in the cool mossy earth, energy from the mountain pulses into your being. Your hands move easily up to your sides as a warm breeze blows up the vast mountain range, and your can smell the water from the river below, sweet and fresh.

Your mind, your consciousness, your very being explodes out into the rest of reality in a moment. As if an unseen yet blinding light, and unheard, yet deafening sound exploded out from you and all beings everywhere were instantly linked to you in one true moment of understanding, love, and compassion.

Allow that moment to last forever.

It’s Simple Really, Animals Are Not Food

On January 3, 2007, the leader of the Karma Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, made a strong statement against eating meat within his monasteries and centers around the world. These rules went into immediate effect that date:

  1. No meat is to be prepared in the kitchen of any Kagyu Monastery or Center.
  2. No one is to be involved in the business of buying and selling meat — for all of his students this practice must stop.
  3. There is to be no killing of animals on Kagyu premises.
  4. Karmapa is aware of monks in robes going to buy meat and does not want to see this ever again.

Below is a very well done video of the above rules that the Karmapa has laid out. Note: This video is important, but not for the feint of heart, nor for children.

I started thinking about vegetarianism a few years ago, but I was misinformed by the American medical and food industries. One book I read brought me a long way on the road to a meat free diet though, Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, I highly recommend it. I have educated myself, and with the help of some good friends, I am getting better and better at eating a solely vegetarian diet. This is not an easy task in America. This is the land of the fast food burger, pepperoni pizzas and even our American past time, baseball, demands you enjoy a hot dog or two.

December 28th, 2007, that was the date that I said, I can do this, to eating vegetarian. Yes, I have cheated a few times since then, but in large part I have been meat free. Beans have become my friends, though those around me may counter that comment. Salads are now a mainstay of my lunch and dinner. They have even become a breakfast option for me, and I like it too. Fruits and veggies were always high on my list, now they are simply the largest part of that list, along with grains, rice and other staples. Have I mentioned how much I love fresh tofu yet? Not the stuff you get in Wal-Mart or the local grocer either. Nope, I love the stuff you get in your city’s Asian district. Hey, I live in Oklahoma City, if I can find fresh tofu surely you can too.

Let me speak for a moment about vegetarianism from the Buddhist standpoint. The Buddha said, among other things, that we should give up evil actions. I view the killing of animals as an act of aggression against a sentient being. Every action produces karma, good or bad, without consideration as to our intentions or the outcome. Eating the meat is no different from being the person who slaughtered the animal for you to eat that flesh. To think otherwise is an illusion. Being a person on the path to Enlightenment, foloowing the Dharma, means I listen and try fervently to follow the Buddha and those in his lineage, such as H.H. 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, Orgyen Trinle Dorje.

I feel better physically when I am meat and dairy free too. I used to eat lunch or dinner and feel bloated and lethargic, not anymore. Here are some links you might find helpful.

  • Vegetarian books I can personally recommend are found here
  • Vegetarian cook books in general can be found here
  • Shabkar.org is an excellent site devoted to vegetarianism for Buddhists

I know this is a big step for anyone, let alone an American, so just think about it. Be mindful of your actions, show compassion and educate yourself.

113 Thoughts from the Buddha

Wonderlane’s Buddha1. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.

2. He is able who thinks he is able.

3. Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.

4. All that we are is the result of what we have thought.

5. A man should first direct himself in the way he should go. Only then should he instruct others.

6. Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.

7. Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.

8. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, We make our world.

9. Born out of concern for all beings.

10. All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.

11. There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth…not going all the way, and not starting.

12. Let yourself be open and life will be easier. A spoon of salt in a glass of water makes the water undrinkable. A spoon of salt in a lake is almost unnoticed.

13. He who loves 50 people has 50 woes; he who loves no one has no woes.

14. If a man’s mind becomes pure, his surroundings will also become pure.

15. To be idle is a short road to death and to be diligent is a way of life; foolish people are idle, wise people are diligent.

16. Ye must leave righteous ways behind, not to speak of unrighteous ways.

17. There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.

18. They are not following dharma who resort to violence to achieve their purpose. But those who lead others through nonviolent means, knowing right and wrong, may be called guardians of the dharma.

19. Those who really seek the path to Enlightenment dictate terms to their mind. Then they proceed with strong determination.

20. There is, Oh Monks, a not-born, a not-become, a not-made, a not-compounded. Monks, if that unborn, not-become, not-made, not-compounded were not, there would be no escape from this here that is born, become, made and compounded.

21. There has to be evil so that good can prove its purity above it.

22. To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one’s own in the midst of abundance.

23. We are formed and molded by our thoughts. Those whose minds are shaped by selfless thoughts give joy when they speak or act. Joy follows them like a shadow that never leaves them.

24. We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.

25. Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.

26. The world, indeed, is like a dream and the treasures of the world are an alluring mirage! Like the apparent distances in a picture, things have no reality in themselves, but they are like heat haze.

27. When one has the feeling of dislike for evil, when one feels tranquil, one finds pleasure in listening to good teachings; when one has these feelings and appreciates them, one is free of fear.

28. A wise man, recognizing that the world is but an illusion, does not act as if it is real, so he escapes the suffering.

29. As irrigators lead water where they want, as archers make their arrows straight, as carpenters carve wood, the wise shape their minds.

30. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher.

31. Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely.

32. Whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be kind, conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings…that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.

33. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher.

34. A family is a place where minds come in contact with one another. If these minds love one another the home will be as beautiful as a flower garden. But if these minds get out of harmony with one another it is like a storm that plays havoc with the garden.

35. Therefore, be ye lamps unto yourselves, be a refuge to yourselves. Hold fast to Truth as a lamp; hold fast to the truth as a refuge. Look not for a refuge in anyone beside yourselves. And those, who shall be a lamp unto themselves, shall betake themselves to no external refuge, but holding fast to the Truth as their lamp, and holding fast to the Truth as their refuge, they shall reach the topmost height.

36. We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.

37. Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.

38. Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.

39. A good friend who points out mistakes and imperfections and rebukes evil is to be respected as if he reveals a secret of hidden treasure.

40. A jug fills drop by drop.

41. An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild beast may wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your mind.

42. Anger will never disappear so long as thoughts of resentment are cherished in the mind. Anger will disappear just as soon as thoughts of resentment are forgotten.

43. Meditation brings wisdom; lack of mediation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what hold you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.

44. Decay is inherent in all compounded things. Strive on with diligence.

45. The Buddhas do but tell the way; it is for you to swelter at the task.

46. Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.

47. Do not overrate what you have received, nor envy others. He who envies others does not obtain peace of mind.

48. Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes.

49. Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.

50. If a man possesses a repentant spirit his sins will disappear, but if he has an unrepentant spirit his sins will continue and condemn him for their sake forever.

51. Friendship is the only cure for hatred, the only guarantee of peace.

52. It is a man’s own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways.

53. Everything is changeable, everything appears and disappears; there is no blissful peace until one passes beyond the agony of life and death.

54. On life’s journey faith is nourishment, virtuous deeds are a shelter, wisdom is the light by day and right mindfulness is the protection by night. If a man lives a pure life, nothing can destroy him.

55. Our theories of the eternal are as valuable as are those which a chick which has not broken its way through its shell might form of the outside world.

56. Be a lamp unto yourself. Work out your liberation with diligence.

57. Those who by form did see me and those who followed me by voice. Wrong the efforts they engaged in, those people will not see me.

58. Life at home is cramped and dirty, it is difficult to live a spiritual life completely, perfect and pure in all its parts while cabined.

59. Life is suffering.

60. Make a proper investigation first. Proper investigation is good for a well-known person like yourself.

61. My doctrine is not a doctrine but just a vision. I have not given you any set rules; I have not given you a system.

62. Not one or two, Subhuti, not one or two, but all the beings – men, women, animals, birds, trees, rocks. All the beings in the world. One should create such a determination that `I will lead all of them into nirvana’.

63. Reverence, humility, contentment, gratitude and hearing the good Dharma, this is the best good luck

64. Seeking but not finding the house builder I traveled through life after life. How painful is repeated birth! House-builders, you have now been seen. You will not build the house again.

65. Someone who has set out in the vehicle of a Bodhisattva should decide that `I must lead all the beings to nirvana, into that realm of nirvana which leaves nothing behind’. What is this realm of nirvana which leaves nothing behind?

66. The example of the raft shows dharmas should be treated as provisional, as means to an end. The same holds good of emptiness too, the negation of dharmas. This corollary has elsewhere been illustrated by the simile of medicine which can heal any illness because its further use would only make one ill again.

67. The greatest gift is to give people your enlightenment, to share it. It has to be the greatest.

68. There is an unborn, a not-become, a not-made, a not-compounded. There cannot be any escape from what is born, become compounded. But since there is this unborn, not become, not-made, not-compounded, therefore is there made known an escape from what is born, become, made and compounded.

69. Everything changes, nothing remains without change.

70. It is within this fathoms-long carcass, with its mind and its notions; that I declare there is the world, the origin of the world, the cessation of the world and the path leading to the cessation of the world.

71. To keep the body in good health is a duty, for otherwise we shall not be able to trim the lamp of wisdom, and keep our mind strong and clear. Water surrounds the lotus flower, but does not wet its petals.

72. To refrain from evil and from strong drink and to be always, steadfast in virtue; this is the good luck.

73. To support mother and father, to cherish wife and child and to have a simple livelihood; this is the good luck.

74. Wherever there is possession of marks, there is fraud; wherever there is no-possession of no-marks, there is no fraud. Hence the Tathagata is to be seen from no-marks as marks.

75. Why since I am myself subject to birth, ageing, disease, death, sorrows and defilement, do I seek after what is also subject to these things? Suppose, being myself subject these things, seeking danger in them, I were to seek the unborn, unageing, undiseased, deathless, sorrowless, undefiled supreme surcease of bondage, the extinction of all these troubles?

76. Work out you own salvation. Do not depend on others.

77. Because not even the least dharma is there found or got at. Therefore is it called ‘utmost, right and perfect enlightenment’. Self-identical is that dharma and nothing is therein at variance. Therefore is it called `utmost, right and perfect enlightenment is fully known as the totality of all the wholesome dharmas

78. Again a different meaning has to be understood.

79. For all mortals, birth is suffering, ageing is suffering, sickness is suffering.

80. No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.

81. One should do what one teaches others to do; if one would train others, one should be well controlled oneself. Difficult, indeed, is self-control.

82. All tremble at punishment. Life is dear to all. Put yourself in the place of others; kill none nor have another killed.

83. Thirst for existence, O monks, has a specific condition, it is nourished by something, it also does not go without support. And what is that nourishment? It is ignorance.

84. And again, Subhuti, suppose a woman or a man were to renounce all their belongings as many times as there are grains of sand in the river Ganges ; and suppose that someone else, after taking from this discourse on dharma but one stanza of four lines, would demonstrates it to others. Then this latter on the strength of that would beget a greater heap of merit, immeasurable and incalculable.

85. Good men and bad men differ radically. Bad men never appreciate kindness shown them, but wise men appreciate and are grateful. Wise men try to express their appreciation and gratitude by some return of kindness, not only to their benefactor, but to everyone else.

86. Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.

87. Inward calm cannot be maintained unless physical strength is constantly and intelligently replenished.

88. It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.

89. Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.

90. The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.

91. The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you freed.

92. Through zeal, knowledge is gotten; through lack of zeal, knowledge is lost; let a man who knows the double path of gain and loss thus place himself that knowledge may grow.

93. To conquer oneself is a greater victory than to conquer thousands in a battle.

94. To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.

95. You should respect each other and refrain from disputes; you should not, like water and oil, repel each other, but should, like milk and water, mingle together.

96. Known they are, Subhuti, to the Tathagata through his Buddha-coginition. Seen they are, Subhuti, by the Tathagata with his Buddha-eye, fully known, Subhuti, they are to the Tathagata.

97. What is the noble truth of suffering? Birth is suffering, ageing is suffering and sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief and despair are suffering.

98. Keeping away from all evil deeds, cultivation of life by doing good deeds and purification of mind from mental impurities.

99. Because a Bodhisattva who gives a gift should not be supported by a thing, nor should he be supported anywhere.The great being should give gifts in such a way that he is not supported by the notion of a sign and why ? Because the heap of merit of that bodhi-being, who unsupported gives a gift, is not easy to measure

100. Being deeply learned and skilled, being well trained and using well spoken words; this is good luck.

101. Being generous, just helping one’s relatives and being blameless in one’s actions; this is the best good luck.

102. Beings are owners of their action, heirs of their action.

103. But, to take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, and to see with real understanding the four noble truths

104. Deny the passport, throw it away and make a great decision that you will not leave this shore until and unless you have liberated all the human beings.

104. Do not speak thus, Subhuti! Yes, even then there will be of beings who, when these words of the sutra are being taught, will understand their truth. For even at that time, Subhuti, there will be Bodhisattvas. And these Bodhisattvas, Subhuti, will not be such as have honored only one single Buddha, nor such as have planted their roots of merit under one single Buddha.

105. From the Dharma should one see the Buddhas, from the dharma-bodies come their guidance. Yet Dharma’s true nature cannot be discerned and no one can be conscious of it as an object.

106. I am the miracle.

107. Inflamed by greed, incensed by hate, confused by delusion, overcome by them, obsessed by mind, a man chooses for his own affliction, for others’ affliction, for the affliction of both and experiences pain and grief

108. It is to see the faults of others, but difficult to see once own faults. One shows the faults of others like chaff winnowed in the wind, but one conceals one’s own faults as a cunning gambler conceals his dice.

109. Overcome the angry by non-anger; overcome the wicked by goodness; overcome the miser by generosity; overcome the liar by truth.

110. As a lotus flower is born in water, grows in water and rises out of water to stand above it unsoiled, so I, born in the world, raised in the world having overcome the world, live unsoiled by the world

111. On a long journey of human life, faith is the best of companions; it is the best refreshment on the journey; and it is the greatest property.

112. This indeed is a safe refuge, it is the refuge supreme. It is the refuge whereby one is freed from all suffering.

113. Thoughts give joy when they speak or act. Joy follows them like a shadow that never leaves them.