Working together

I am convinced that only through working together can we win the disagreements and misunderstandings that lead to war. I am equally convinced that some countries like my own will never be at peace until they can see how much money they gain from being at peace. I believe all suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their happiness or satisfaction. Yet true happiness comes from a sense of inner peace and contentment, which in turn must be achieved through the cultivation of altruism, of love and compassion and elimination of ignorance, selfishness and greed.

  • The problems we face today, violent conflicts, destruction of nature, poverty, hunger, and so on, are human-created problems which can be resolved through human effort, understanding and the development of a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood. We need to cultivate a universal responsibility for one another and the planet we share. Although I have found my own Buddhist religion helpful in generating love and compassion, even for those we consider our enemies, I am convinced that everyone can develop a good heart and a sense of universal responsibility with or without religion.–Dalai Lama

Being present

This quote came in today’s mail and it really resonates for me.

Being present does not mean getting rid of emotions in order to stay calm. It is the ability to stay calm within the emotional world we inhabit. Emotions have real value. At the same time, we can avoid falling prey to their traps. Emotions are like storms blowing across a mountain. Even when those storms are roaring, the mountain holds still. Sometimes the mountain benefits as old deposits of dirt are blown away and the air is cleared. Sometimes the mountain suffers as the wind and water beat away at it and begin to break it down. But in either case, the mountain just sits there with presence and dignity.

–Judith Lief, Making Friends with Death: A Buddhist Guide to Encountering Mortality

(Shambhala 2001), 156

Non-violence or non-existence

Today I came across a story of healing for a Vietnam war veteran who was so traumatized by that experience that he still bore the scars thirty years after the fact. I sent that story on to some friends today. I read the entire book three Christmases ago. Now, we learn that our president wants to start another war. He’s saying the that we need to bring peace through bombs and bullets. Its just pure bull. Continue reading “Non-violence or non-existence”

Never the same

We are always at the beginning. It is always the very first time. Truly, there are no repetitions. When I play the piano, I often come to a repeat sign. Can that passage be repeated? If I am teaching a piano student and we see a repeat sign, I tell the student that there are no repeats. We return to the beginning of a certain passage, but it’s never the same. It’s always fresh. Someone asked me, “Don’t you get tired of answering the same questions day after day—what is Zen, how do we practice?” Never! It’s never the same question, because it’s always coming from a different person, in a different moment; and each person asks the question from his or her own state of mind. The words may sound alike, but each time they are coming from somewhere unique.

–Maurine Stuart, Subtle Sound, ed. Roko Sherry Chayat (Shambhala, 1996), 16