Hope and Fear

Friday, October 2nd, 2015
Bastille Vault, Canal St Martin, Paris. September 2015. Photo: MBuffett
Bastille Vault, Canal St Martin, Paris. September 2015. Photo: MBuffett

“One of the classic Buddhist teachings on hope and fear concerns what are known as the eight worldly dharmas. These are four pairs of opposites–four things that we like and become attached to and four things that we don’t like and try to avoid. The basic message is that when we are caught up in the eight worldly dharmas, we suffer.

First, we like pleasure; we are attached to it. Conversely, we don’t like pain. Second, we like and are attached to praise. We try to avoid criticism and blame. Third, we like and are attached to fame. We dislike and try to avoid disgrace. Finally, we are attached to gain, to getting what we want. We don’t like losing what we have.
According to this very simple teaching, becoming immersed in these four pairs of opposites – pleasure and pain, praise and blame, fame and disgrace, and gain and loss – is what keeps us stuck in the pain of samsara.
We might feel that somehow we should try to eradicate these feelings of pleasure and pain, gain and loss, praise and blame, fame and disgrace. A more practical approach is to get to know them intimately, see how they hook us, see how they color our perception of reality, see how they aren’t all that solid. Then the eight worldly dharmas  become the means for growing wiser as well as kinder and more content.”
-from Comfortable With Uncertainty, by Pema Chodron

Meditation and the Mind. Keep it Simple.

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015
Simple. Single. Focus. Everyday. New Orleans, September 2015
Meditation. Single Pointed Focus. Ordinary. Everyday. Everywhere. New Orleans, September 2015

“The Buddha taught that the mind is wild and the human experience is full of unpredictability and paradox, joys and sorrows, successes and failures. But through good meditation techniques, a simple attitude, and unconditional friendliness toward ourselves, we can work toward taming the one thing that causes our suffering: the mind.”

-from the Pema Chodron Foundation Newsletter

Bodichitta: The Heart of Everyday Life

Monday, August 24th, 2015
I-10 East, New Orleans to Mobile. August 2015. Photo: MBuffett
I-10 East, New Orleans to Mobile. August 2015. Photo: MBuffett

Even ordinary people like us with hang-ups and confusion have this mind of enlightenment called bodhichitta. An analogy for bodhichitta  is the rawness of a broken heart. This is our link with all those who have ever loved. This genuine heart of sadness can teach us great compassion. It can humble us when we are arrogant and soften us when we are unkind. It awakens us when we prefer to sleep and pierces through our indifference. This continual ache of the heart broken open is a blessing that when accepted fully can be shared with all.

The openness and warmth of bodhichitta is in fact our true nature and condition. Even when our neurosis feels far more basic than our wisdom, even when we’re feeling most confused and hopeless, bodhichitta – like the open sky – is always here, undiminished by the clouds that temporarily cover it.
-from Comfortable With Uncertainty by Pema Chodron

be happy. becOMe this mOMent

Monday, August 17th, 2015
River Road Train Tracks, New Orleans, August 2015. Photo: MBuffett
River Road Train Tracks, New Orleans, August 2015. Photo: MBuffett

Being able to stop and be aware of the present moment is part of the definition of happiness. It is not possible to be happy in the future. This is not a matter of belief; this is a matter of experience.

- from Silence by Thich Nhat Hanh

Make Like A Bird

Sunday, July 26th, 2015
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Eka Pada Koundinyasana II (One-Legged Arm Balance Pose). New Orleans, July 2015. Photo: BKane and MBuffett

The Yogi conquers the body by the practice of asanas (postures) and makes it a fit vehicle for the spirit. (S)He knows that it is a necessary vehicle for the spirit. A soul without a body is like a bird deprived of its power to fly.

-from Light On Yoga by BKS Iyengar

Solitude: You Don’t Have To Go To The Forest

Thursday, July 16th, 2015
Key West, March 2015. Photo: MBuffett
Key West, March 2015. Photo: MBuffett

Solitude. When people hear the phrase “the island of self,” they often think it means they have to live alone and have to shut people and everything else out of their life. But this practice, this kind of “living alone,” doesn’t mean there’s no one around you. It only means that you are established firmly in the here and now; you are aware of everything that is happening in the present moment… To practice solitude is to practice being in this singular moment, not caught in the past, not carried away by the future,  and most of all, not carried away by the crowd. You don’t have to go to the forest. You can live with people, you can go to the grocery store, you can walk with others – and you can still enjoy silence and solitude. In today’s society, with so many things around you clamoring for your attention and your reaction, the inner solitude is something you have to learn…  You can dwell safely and solidly in your own island… It is because you are comfortable in solitude that you can be in communion with the world. I feel connected to you because I am fully myself. It’s simple: to really relate to the world, you have to first go back and relate to yourself.

-from Silence by Thich Nhat Hanh

Aspiration: Lighten Up, Do Something Different

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015
FLOATING GLOBES, Pubic House, Chicago, July 2015. Photo:MBuffett
FLOATING GLOBES, Public House, Chicago, July 2015. Photo: MBuffett

Being able to lighten up is the key to feeling at home with your body, mind, and emotions, to feeling worthy to live on this planet.… This earnestness, this seriousness about everything in our lives – this goal-oriented we-are-going-to-do-it-or-else attitude, is the world’s greatest killjoy… When your aspiration is to lighten up, you begin to have a sense of humor. Your serious state of mind keeps getting popped. In addition to a sense of humor, a basic support for a joyful mind is curiosity, paying attention, taking an interest in the world around you.… Curiosity encourages cheering up. So does simply remembering to do something different… Anything out of the ordinary will help. You can go to the window and look at the sky, you can splash cold water on your face, you can sing in the shower, you can go jogging – anything that’s against your usual pattern. That’s how things start to lighten up.

-from Comfortable With Uncertainty by Pema Chodron

The Space To Realize Dreams

Monday, July 13th, 2015
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DREAM STATE, New Orleans, February 2015. Photo: MBuffett

Sometimes we hitch ourselves to large but essentially empty dreams, maybe because we are so busy just getting through the day that we don’t believe we can actually live according to our deepest, most genuine desires. But the truth is that right here in our daily life, every breath and every step can become a concrete part of making our true dreams happen…. If you feel that your dreams aren’t coming true, you might think you need to do more, or to think and strategize more. In fact, what you might need is less – less noise coming to you from both inside and outside – so that you have the space for your heart’s truest intention to germinate and flourish.

-from Silence by Thich Nhat Hanh

Awakening Is A Choice

Saturday, July 11th, 2015
Chonor House, McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala India, March 2012. Photo: MBuffett
Chonor House, McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala India, March 2012. Photo: MBuffett

Breathing in, breathing out, feeling resentful, feeling happy, being able to drop it, not being able to drop it, eating our food, brushing our teeth, walking, sitting – whatever we’re doing could be done with one intention. That intention is that we want to wake up, we want to ripen our compassion, and we want to ripen our ability to let go, we want to realize our connection with all beings. Everything in our lives has the potential to wake us up or to put us to sleep. Allowing it to awaken us is up to us. 

-from Comfortable With Uncertainty by Pema Chodron