Take My Hand, We Will Walk

Take my hand.
We will walk.
We will only walk.
We will enjoy our walk,
without thinking of arriving anywhere.
Walk peacefully.
Walk happily.
Our walk is a peace walk.
Our walk is a happiness walk.

– Thich Nhat Hanh, Linji School, Thiền Buddhism.

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Buddhaghosa on Anger

“By [getting angry] you are like a man who wants to hit another and picks up a burning ember or excrement in his hand and so first burns himself or makes himself stink”

Venerable Buddhaghosa, Visuddhimagga IX-23 (written in 5th Century AD). 

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The Garden You Grow

Our intentions – noticed or unnoticed, gross or subtle – contribute either to our suffering or to our happiness

Intentions are sometimes called seeds.

The garden you grow depends on the seeds you plant and water. Long after a deed is done, the trace or momentum of the intention behind it remains as a seed, conditioning our future happiness or unhappiness.

– Gil Fronsdal, Vipassana Teacher.

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I am a Flower, I am a Mountain

Breathing in,
I see myself as a flower.
I am the freshness 
of a dewdrop.
Breathing out,
my eyes have become flowers.
Please look at me.
I am looking with the eyes of love

Breathing in,
I am a mountain,
imperturbable,
still,
alive,
vigorous.
Breathing out,
I feel solid.
The waves of emotion can never carry me away.

– Thich Nhat Hanh, Linji School, Thiền Buddhism

You are what you “eat”

“We digest and assimilate all of our thoughts and our mental states, and they become part of our conditioning. There are mental states and impulses that are terribly detrimental, and in meditation we can learn to recognize them as they arise. You could be sitting quite calmly eating your breakfast, when an impulse of hatred, or ill will, or contempt arises. Just like a scuba diver watching a bubble rise, you watch it come up. Then it may pop; or you may go along for the ride and develop it. Then it becomes more like oil on paper, and starts to suffuse your mentality, in which case you have to live with it for a while.

Judgment as an expression of wisdom is not in the business of judging the self. It is in the business of recognizing what are wholesome and unwholesome mental factors. 

When ill will arises, wise judgment recognizes it. ” Aha! I’ve heard of you! You are the worst affliction I can suffer from. You completely destroy all loving – kindness. You’re the enemy of my happiness, the enemy of my relations with other people. If I go along with you, you’ll destroy all my happiness and all my friendships and I’ll make myself a thoroughly miserable person. I recognize you” … That is wisdom and some judgment too. ” 

– Excerpt from The Four Immeasurables – B Alan Wallace. 

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The Ecstasy of Solitude

β€œThe ecstasy of solitude comes when you are not frightened to be alone.”

– J. Krishnamurti 

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Is using an Amazon Go store ‘Right Action’?

Many of you, by now, have heard of Amazon’s new Just Walk Out technology. When I first heard about it my first reaction was how futuristic and exciting it looked. My second reaction was to worry about what this meant for the future of jobs in the service industry. 
And this is only one of many things to come along to threaten jobs as we move towards more and more common use of robotics and AI in the future. The brilliant Steven Hawking wrote an article recently where he stated:

the rise of artificial intelligence is likely to extend this job destruction deep into the middle classes, with only the most caring, creative or supervisory roles remaining.

We should remember that in a free society we are free to choose many aspects of how we live our lives – what we spend our money on, what we participate in, etc. And we should also remember that this is an aspect of participating in a democracy.  More than simply one vote every x years, you have several ‘votes’ each day. Whether you spend money at local businesses or large chains is a vote for one or the other. Buying battery-farmed hen eggs is a vote for that industry to continue. Using a self service check out is a vote to move to a more automated service industry. 

It is the true ‘power of the people’, and it arguably shapes society more than any political vote ever could. 

I once heard a Dhamma teacher talk about ‘society-level kamma’ remarking that as well as individual action & result, there is also the fact that the combined actions of many people have consequences for society as a whole. The individuals of that society can be affected by the ‘bad kamma’ of the larger group. It can go some way to explaining why bad things happen to good people. 

So when we consider ‘Right Action’ should we be considering the wider impacts of our actions on society as a whole? Should we start being more aware of what we are ‘voting for’ with our wallets and actions each day?

(Image used is from Amazon Go Introduction video on YouTube.)

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Taking care of others is the same as taking care of myself

“If I am good to someone, he or she will learn goodness and, in turn, will be good to others. If I am not good, he or she will harbor hatred and resentment and will, in turn, pass it on to others. If the world is not good, I have to make more effort to be good myself.

Taking care of others is the same as taking care of myself. When I respect and serve others, I am serving all Buddhas everywhere. This is called great compassion. Compassion is a happy mental state.

When we protect ourselves through mindfulness, we are protecting others as well. When we protect other living beings through compassionate actions, we are also protecting ourselves.”

– Maha Ghosananda, Theravada Tradition

Love is a practice

‘Love is the capacity to take care, to protect, to nourish. If you are not capable of generating that kind of energy toward yourself- if you are not capable of taking care of yourself, of nourishing yourself, of protecting yourself- it is very difficult to take care of another person. In the Buddhist teaching, it’s clear that to love oneself is the foundation of the love of other people. Love is a practice. Love is truly a practice.’

– Thich Nhat Hanh, Linji School, Thiền Buddhism

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Happy New Year

Its New Year in the western calendar today. For a lot of people New year is a time of reflection, new beginnings, and resolutions. 

Giving yourself a chance to start anew is a powerful thing. Its allows you to put aside the things holding you back, and greet the present moment with whatever intentions you want.

But we should remember that we don’t need to wait for New Years Day or any other day to allow ourselves a fresh start. Each moment is a fresh start. Each moment we can re-resolve failed resolutions, forgive ourselves for mistakes, and re-dedicate ourselves to the path.

As Nyanaponika Thera said, we live in “a world where only the courage to start anew, again and again, promises success”.

So this New Year, if you find yourself failing a resolution (as we all do sometimes) don’t give up! Simply put that incident aside, learn from it, and re-resolve! That way, failure is impossible!

Happy New Year everyone!