Bhagavad-Gita : Continually, remembers Me

bhagavad-gita12-13. All the doors of the senses closed, the mind shut in into the heart, the life-force taken up out of its diffused movement into the head, the intelligence concentrated in the utterance of the sacred syllable OM and its conceptive thought in the remembrance of the supreme Godhead, he who goes forth, abandoning the body, he attains to the highest status.

14. He who continually remembers Me, thinking of none else, the Yogin, O Partha, who is in constant union with Me, finds Me easy to attain.

15. Having come to me, these great souls come not again to birth, this transient and painful condition of our mortal being; they reach the highest perfection.

16. The highest heavens of the cosmic plan are subject to a return to rebirth, but, O Kaunteya, there is no rebirth imposed on the soul that comes to Me (the Purushottama).

Bhagavad-Gita chap 8

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Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo : Virya Paramita or Effort

 

tenzin palmoContemplating viryaparamita, or the perfection of effort, leads us to the question of enthusiastic energy. Does the idea itself make you feel exhausted? We never can accomplish anything if we don’t really try, if we don’t have some ongoing perseverance. On the spiritual path, the two qualities most needed are patience and perseverance. For instance, many people who want to meditate do sit down but after only two or three sessions they say, “Oh, I can’t meditate. Too many thoughts.” And they give up. Nothing worthwhile was ever accomplished without diligence, without perseverance, without effort. When they train for the Olympics, athletes are completely one-pointed. They change their diet and give up smoking and alcohol. They get up early; they go to bed early. They train the whole day long. Everything else is sacri­ficed. And for what? To get a medal.

In Buddhism, laziness is described as being of three types. First, there is the laziness that says, “Yes, I like going to the Dharma center, I like medi­tating, but there is a really good movie on television, so sorry.” It is the kind of laziness in which we have lots of enthusiasm for something that we really want to do, but when it comes to meditation or any kind of serious Dharma reading, suddenly we find ourselves saying, “Oh goodness, I am so tired. I’ll do my practice later when I have time.” It is the kind of laziness in which we remember what a late night we had the night before, and that’s the end of that. We all suffer from this gross kind of laziness, which is easy to recognize.

The second kind of laziness is the laziness that comes when we are unable to practice because we feel so unworthy. The conviction that everyone else but me can practice and meditate and get realizations—”I can’t because I always fail at everything; I did try to meditate but I couldn’t do it because I have too many thoughts”—that is laziness. The sense that we can’t do the practice because of this or that is not regarded as humility but rather as gross laziness. We are shirking. We all have buddha nature; all we have to do is to discover it. Therefore, it is not a question of being higher or lower or unworthy. Unworthy of what? We all have the potential of being enlightened; we all have this human birth; we all have some intelligence.

The third kind of laziness refers to being so busy with mundane activities, even Dharma activities, that we have no time for inner cultivation. Whatever excuse we make to ourselves does not matter. If we find ourselves filling up our days with things to do week after week, month after month, year after year, we never have time to go inside. Even if we are like rodents on a wheel, that is still laziness. We are avoiding the real task. Our task here is first to realize our innate Buddha nature, and anything which takes us away from that is just avoidance.

Into the Heart of Life

 

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To those who have meditated much

Yama_tibet“To those who have meditated much, the real Truth dawned as soon as the body and consciousness-principle part. The acquiring of experience while living is important : they who have (then) recognized (the true nature of their own being), and thus have had some experience, obtain great power during the Bardo of the Moment of Death, when the Clear Light dawneth.”

“Now, if thou art to hold fast to the real Truth, thou must allow thy mind to rest undistractedly in the nothing-to-do, nothing-to-hold condition of the unobscured, primordial, bright, void state of thy intellect, to which thou hast been introduced by thy guru.”

The Tibetan Book of the Dead

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Edward Salim Michael : Practice of spiritual exercises

An earnest seeker should be deeply concerned each time he is confronted with his rebellious mind, with its lazy habits, instability, attachments, elusiveness, and slovenly ways of working. These he will have to study and try intelligently to contend with, both during his meditation and when he is engaged in doing his various spiritual exercises in outer life. He will certainly feel the great need to find means of some sort by which he can struggle to control his disobedient mind and obtain a little freedom from its incessant and meaningless wanderings, at least during the moments when he wants to concentrate on his spiritual practices.

concours-de-danse-classique-73833

            Just as a dancer cannot restrict himself to practicing one body movement only and hope to reach a certain standard in himself from which he can express sublime artistic sentiments, so, and to an even greater extent, a seeker needs to practice different spiritual exercises to match the different difficulties and problems he encounters in himself and the outside world—exercises that are essential to him to help him in this mysterious inner journey until he finally arrives at the discovery of his true being, that which is Divine in him. He has to be equipped with every possible means to sustain him

The Law of Attention, chapter 38

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Brother Lawrence : I feel joys so continual and so great

If we were well accustomed to the exercise of the presence of God, all bodily diseases would be much alleviated thereby. God often permits that whe should suffer a little to purify our souls and oblige us to continue with Him.

priere oratoire

Take courage; offer Him your pains incessantly; pray to Him for strength to endure them. Above all, get a habit of entertaining yourself often with God, and forget Him the least you can. Adore Him in your infirmities, offer yourself to Him from time to time, and in the height of your sufferings beseech Him humbly and affectionately (as a child his father) to make you conformable to His holy will. I shall endeavor to assist you with my poor prayers.

God has many ways of drawing us to Himself. He sometimes hides Himself from us; but faith alone, which will not fail us in time of need, ought to be our support, and the foundation of our confidence, which must be all in God.

I know not how God will dispose of me. I am always happy. All the world suffer; and I, who deserve the severest discipline, feel joys so continual and so great that I can scarce contain them.

I would willingly ask of God a part of your sufferings, but that I know my weakness, which is so great that if He left me one moment to myself I should be the most wretched man alive. And yet I know not how He can leave me alone, because faith gives me as strong a conviction as sense can do that He never forsakes us until we have first forsaken Him. Let us fear to leave Him. Let us be always with Him. Let us live and die in His presence. Do you pray for me as I for you.

I am,  Yours, etc.

Brother Lawrence (Practice of the Presence of God -  Twelfth Letter to a nun)

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Is Enlightenment just a myth ? Approaches to Enlightenment

On a meditation retreat several years ago, late one evening after the Dharma talk, a woman raised her hand and asked one last question: “Is enlightenment just a myth?” When we teachers went back to our evening meeting, we asked each other this question. We exchanged stories about the creative freedom of Ajahn Chah, the enormous field of metta around Dipa Ma, the joyous laughter of Poonja, and of our own awakenings. Of course there is enlightenment.

But the word enlightenment is used in different ways, and that can be confusing. Is Zen, Tibetan, Hindu or Theravada enlightenment the same? What is the difference between an enlightenment experience and full enlightenment? What do enlightened people look like?

 

angkor-wat-432a

APPROACHES TO ENLIGHTENMENT

Early on in my practice in Asia, I was forced to deal with these questions quite directly. My teachers, Ajahn Chah in Thailand and Mahasi Sayadaw in Burma, were both considered among the most enlightened masters of Theravada Buddhism. While they both described the goal of practice as free-dom from greed, hatred and delusion, they didn’t agree about how to attain enlightenment, nor how it is experienced. I started my monastic training practicing in community with Ajahn Chah. Then I went to study in a monastery of Mahasi Sayadaw, where the path of liberation focuses entirely on long silent meditation retreats.

In the Mahasi system, you sit and walk for weeks in the retreat context and continuously note the arising of breath, thought, feelings and sensations over and over until the mindfulness is so refined there is nothing but instantaneous arising and passing. You pass through stages of luminosity, joy, fear and the dissolution of all you took to be solid. The mind becomes unmoving, resting in a place of stillness and equanimity, transparent to all experience, thoughts and fears, longings and love. Out of this there comes a dropping away of identity with anything in this world, an opening to the unconditioned beyond mind and body; you enter into the stream of liberation. As taught by Mahasi Sayadaw, this first taste of stream-entry to enlightenment requires purification and strong concentration leading to an experience of cessation that begins to uproot greed, hatred and delusion.

When I returned to practice in Ajahn Chah’s community following more than a year of silent Mahasi retreat, I recounted all of these experiences—dissolving my body into light, profound insights into emptiness, hours of vast stillness and freedom. Ajahn Chah understood and appreciated them from his own deep wisdom. Then he smiled and said, “Well, something else to let go of.” His approach to enlightenment was not based on having any particular meditation experience, no matter how profound. As Ajahn Chah described them, meditative states are not important in themselves. Meditation is a way to quiet the mind so you can practice all day long wherever you are; see when there is grasping or aversion, clinging or suffering; and then let it go. What’s left is enlightenment, always found here and now, a release of identification with the changing conditions of the world, a resting in awareness. This involves a simple yet profound shift of identity from the myriad, ever-changing conditioned states to the unconditioned consciousness—the awareness which knows them all. In Ajahn Chah’s approach, release from entanglement in greed, hatred and delusion does not happen through retreat, concentration and cessation but from this profound shift in identity.

How can we understand these seemingly different approaches to enlightenment? The Buddhist texts contain some of the same contrasting descriptions. In many texts, nirvana is described in the language of negation, and as in the approach taught by Mahasi Sayadaw, enlightenment is presented as the end of suffering through the putting out of the fires of craving, the uprooting of all forms of clinging. The elimination of suffering is practiced by purification and concentration, by confronting the forces of greed and hate and overcoming them. When the Buddha was asked, “Do you teach annihilation? Is nirvana the end of things as we know them?” he responded, “I teach only one form of annihilation: the extinction of greed, the extinction of hatred, the extinction of delusion. This I call nirvana.”

There is in the texts, as well, a more positive way of understanding enlightenment. Here nirvana is described as the highest happiness; as peace, freedom, purity, stillness; and as the unconditioned, the timeless, the undying. In this understanding, as in Ajahn Chah’s approach, liberation comes through a shift of identity—a release from attachment to the changing conditions of the world, a resting in consciousness itself, the deathless.

In this understanding, liberation is a shift of identity from taking anything as “self.” Asked, “How is it that one is not to be seen by the king of death?” the Buddha responded, “For one who takes nothing whatsoever as I or me or mine, such a one is freed from the snares of the king of death.” In just this way, Ajahn Chah instructed us to rest in awareness and not identify with any experience as I or mine.

Jack Kornfield -  Inquirind Mind 2010

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Gospel of Thomas : When you come to know yourselves, then you will be known

(3) Jesus says:

oiseaux_ciel(1) “If those who lead you say to you: ‘Look, the kingdom is in the sky!’

then the birds of the sky will precede you.

(2) If they say to you: ‘It is in the sea,’

then the fishes will precede you.

(3) Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and outside of you.”

(4) “When you come to know yourselves, then you will be known,

and you will realize that you are the children of the living Father.

(5) But if you do not come to know yourselves, then you exist in poverty, and you are poverty.”

Gospel of Thomas

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Zen Buddhism In search of Self

Corean Zen

 

 

 

 

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Ramana Maharshi : annihilation of the mind

Can someone become a high officer by merely once seeing such an officer ? He may become one if he strives and equips himself for the position. Similarly, can the ego, which is in bondage as the mind, become the divine  Self, simply because it has once glimpsed that it is the Self ?

ramana

Is this not impossible without the destruction of the mind ?  

Can a beggar become a king by merely visiting a king and declaring  himself  one ?  

Similarly, unless  the  bond   of   the mind is cut asunder by prolonged and unbroken meditation, ‘ I’ am the Self, the Absolute,’ it is impossible to attain the transcendental  State of Bliss,  which is identical with  the annihilation of the mind.

Ramana Maharshi (Teachings of Ramana Maharshi)

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Edward Salim Michael : a secret memory of the repetitions of his life

As in a game of chess, the dying person sees at that fateful moment how every one of his actions unleashed a chain of events that made his life what it was as well as the turn it took, whether fruitful or sterile; he also sees in what manner and to what extent he was responsible for it all.

 

miroir

The hidden motives that had been behind everything he said and did, the effect that his actions had on his surroundings, the damage done to others in satisfying his desires, and the lost opportunity to do something worthwhile with the gift of his life will all become clear to him at that momentous second. If his life and energies were not spent in the quest for enlightenment and spiritual unfolding, he will be seized with a profound feeling of remorse. He may well wish he had lived and acted differently—but it will then be, of course, too late.

 
Just as sleep can be a welcome friend and the necessary means to a sometimes much-needed rest and recuperation from all the turmoil, worries, and cares of the previous day, so it is with the last stages of death. The deceased person’s past life becomes little by little very distant and hazy—in the same way as the memory of the very early years of one’s existence on Earth becomes indistinct as one grows into an adult—until at last it is buried in the catacombs of his unconscious, with all the manifold experiences and different tendencies he has accumulated through the repetition of certain actions and what his main interest in life was, all of which await to sprout again in the future, in one manner or another, for good or for bad.

 
Cyclic recurrence is indispensable in the Universe for the human being to gather the necessary experience he needs to his understanding of things and especially of life itself. If there were only one day and one night in the whole Universe, after which this day and this night would disappear forever into total nothingness, one would suffer a sort of strange psychological death, making it impossible for one to comprehend what day and night are. It would—in a very particular way—not even be possible to realize that they had had any existence, let alone to try to conceive the least notion of their significance.
It is the perpetual renewal of the four seasons, or the continual return of the day and night, that gives them their sense, thus enabling the human being—albeit at the limit of his present understanding—to perceive the Cosmos and Creation in a certain light that would otherwise be impossible for him. Through these incessant repetitions, an opportunity is afforded him to discover important facts concerning the laws that govern the Cosmos—discoveries through which he may one day understand the hidden mysteries behind the Universe and his life on an altogether higher level.

 
Had there not been in the human being, concealed somewhere in the innermost depths of his consciousness, a secret memory of the repetitions of his life, with a vast wealth of varied experiences already stored in the recesses of his being, he would not have been able to turn his thoughts to the more lofty questions of the Universe, its enigmatic laws and hidden meaning. Equally, it would not have been possible for him to discover and accomplish the remarkable things that he did in so many different fields as, for example, in the arts, where the sublime and sometimes astonishingly complex yet wonderfully logical music that some unusual beings have been capable of creating in a seemingly miraculous way leaves the listener utterly speechless and plunged into profound wonderment, as much at the extraordinary mathematical truth it seems to impart as the exalted sentiment it so mysteriously arouses in him.

 
If there were only one life for the human being—without the hidden knowledge already in him of its possible recurrence, or at least continuity in some other form—and his existence really stopped forever after his physical death, he would spend his unique life in a state, so to speak, of curious mental obscurity as to the purpose and meaning of his sojourn on Earth, with little or no incentive in him for wanting to live and for wanting to learn anything. Moreover, when he died everything—including whatever knowledge he might have acquired during his single existence—would mysteriously die with him, vanishing forever in an invisible land of total oblivion. All the experiences he so painfully gathered in his one solitary life would have been for nothing. For there would no longer be the possibility of putting into practice the harsh lessons learned from them, both in the service of the Divine and for his own inner growth and spiritual unfolding.

The Law of Attention chap 26

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