Hatred Is Never Appeased By Hatred

Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world.
By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased.
This is a law eternal.

– Dhammapada, verse 5.

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From Striving Comes Wisdom

From striving comes wisdom;
from not, wisdom’s end.

Knowing these two courses
— development and decline —

conduct yourself
so that wisdom will grow.

– Verse from the Dhammapada.

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It Will Pass

In Buddhism we often talk about impermanence; ‘anicca’ in Pali. We sometimes joke that it’s both the good news and the bad news.

There’s a story that really encapsulates this sentiment for me. It’s an old Zen story, I believe, and it goes a little something like this:

A student went to his meditation teacher and said, “My meditation is horrible! I feel so distracted, or my legs ache, or I’m constantly falling asleep. It’s just horrible!”

“It will pass,” the teacher said matter-of-factly.

A week later, the student came back to his teacher, and said, “My meditation is wonderful! I feel so aware, so peaceful, so alive! It’s just wonderful!”

“It will pass,” the teacher replied matter-of-factly.

It’s a funny little story, but the Teacher is absolutely correct, and not just about meditation. 

Impermanence – the bad news:

Everything you love and hold dear will be gone eventually, and the only things we truly own are our deeds (kamma). 

We don’t like to think about losing the people and objects we love, but to think we will have them forever is folly and will lead to greater shock and suffering when the loss comes. 

In my experience, remembering impermanence helps loosen our grip on our attachments. This is the silver lining around the bad news – we can learn ways to accept this truth, and this can be a step towards happiness. It can also lead us to avoid taking the people and things we love for granted, and love them for them not for us – to nurture them and not stifle them. 

Impermanence – the good news:

The good news is that the same applies to the things you dislike. A lot of stress comes from aversion to things we do not like – feeling ill, going for a job interview. But those things pass. 

Equally, states of mind that come from craving are just temporary, but subtly the mind can think these things are permanent. It sounds silly, but if you watch the mind you can see it works this way sometimes – like an infant. 

For example you want a second slice of cake, but you know you shouldn’t have more cake. The craving for the cake is subtle suffering but it will pass. So if it will pass what’s the big deal? Wait it out. But the mind doesn’t operate this way without mindful intervention. It’s in turmoil about the cake and as far as it is concerned the turmoil will never end unless it gets the cake!

Remembering impermanence helps us to accept that the negative states of mind will pass, and we don’t have to act unskilfully in order feel at ease again. Do it enough times and the mind realises this too. That, in turn, helps to keep the mind from the habit of holding onto aversion and turning it into attachment. At least, that’s what I’ve found over the years!

So it’s a quaint little story at first glance, but it’s pointing out a deep truth. Accepting that things change, sometimes not in the way we want, is an important part of operating a mature state of mind and helping the ‘infant’ grow up. 

Take care!

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Buddha’s discourse on love

He or she who wants to attain peace should practice being upright, humble, and capable of using loving speech. He or she will know how to live simply and happily, with senses calmed, without being covetous and carried away by the emotions of the majority. Let him or her not do anything that will be disapproved of by the wise.

And this is what he or she contemplates: 

“May everyone be happy and safe, and may their hearts be filled with joy.”

“May all living beings live in security and in peace—beings who are frail or strong, tall or short, big or small, visible or not visible, near or faraway, already born, or yet to be born. May all of them dwell in perfect tranquility.”

“Let no one do harm to anyone. Let no one put the life of anyone in danger. Let no one, out of anger or ill will, wish anyone any harm.”

“Just as a mother loves and protects her only child at the risk of her own life, we should cultivate boundless love to offer to all living beings in the entire cosmos. We should let our boundless love pervade the whole universe, above, below, and across. Our love will know no obstacles. Our heart will be absolutely free from hatred and enmity. Whether standing or walking, sitting or lying, as long as we are awake, we should maintain this mindfulness of love in our own heart. This is the noblest way of living.

“Free from wrong views, greed, and sensual desires, living in beauty and realizing Perfect Understanding, those who practice boundless love will certainly transcend birth and death.”

– Metta Sutta, Sutta Nipata. 

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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

Aware in time

When Luang Pu was undergoing treatment at Chulalongkorn Hospital in Bangkok, large numbers of people came to pay their respects and listen to his Dhamma. Mr. Bamrungsak Kongsuk was among those who were interested in the practice of meditation. He was a student of Ajaan Sanawng of Wat Sanghadana in Nonthaburi province, one of the strict meditation centers of our day and time.

He broached the topic of the practice of the Dhamma by asking, “Luang Pu, how does one cut off anger?”

Luang Pu answered,

“There’s nobody who cuts it off. There’s only being aware of it in time. When you’re aware of it in time, it disappears on its own.”

No matter how much you think, you won’t know.

No matter how much you think, you won’t know. Only when you stop thinking will you know. But still, you have to depend on thinking so as to know.
– Ajaan Dune Atulo, Thai Forest Tradition.