Wednesday, February 1, 2017

From ‘Buddha or Bust. In Search of Truth, Meaning, Happiness and the Man who found them all’ by Perry Garfinkel

You can’t ever get everything you want. It is impossible and you will never fully succeed. Luckily, there is another option; you can learn to control your mind, to stop outside of this endless cycle of desire and aversion. You can learn not to want what you want, to recognize desires but not be controlled by them.
-          The Buddha

“…..first you must learn what the Buddha learned, to still the mind. Then you don’t take action; action takes you.”

Buddhism has the characteristics of what would be expected in a cosmic religion for the future: it transcends a personal God, avoids dogmas and theology; it covers both the natural and spiritual, and it is based on a religious sense aspiring from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description. If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism.
-          Albert Einstein, in Albert Einstein: The Human Side

Attaching electrodes to the foreheads of Tibetan Buddhist lamas while they were meditating, researchers found that the activity stimulated in several regions of their left prefrontal cortexes – an area of the brain just behind the forehead that recent research had associated with positive emotion – was especially high. That is, he proved neurologically that meditation could indeed make you happier.

Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.
-          The Buddha

[Buddha] ….Discrepancies about many facts of his life are the rule, not the exception, including even when and where he was born. Years of his life are unaccounted for. The earliest recorded evidence of him, his talks or his teachings postdate his life by 500 years. We cannot accurately chart his itinerary. We have no idea whatsoever how he may have looked, and know even less what his personality was like.

The Buddha did not intend his ideas to become a religion; in fact, he discouraged following any path or anyone’s advice without testing it personally. His dying words, as its told, were “Work out your own salvation; do not depend on others.”

….Buddhism … of the major religions of Asia. Today, with 379 million followers …..All this from an inquiring mind that simply wanted to know:
“Who am I?”
“Why am I here?”
“How can I find happiness”

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha.
(Gone, gone, gone all the way over, everyone gone to the other shore, enlightenment. “Hallelujah!”)
-          The Buddha, from the Heart Sutra, also called the Prajnaparamita Sutra

….the Hindu word darsana, which “literally means ‘seeing’ or ‘viewing’ but also carries a more profound concept of essentially identifying with the events that one ‘sees.’”
The idea is much more than just witnessing or observing an important event in the sense that one who experiences darsana of an event becomes part of it and the merit or other benefits that might be gained by the principal participants are also gained to a lesser degree by the observer. ….In Buddhism, even beings in the most unfortunate of births can accrue merit simply being present and observing events surrounding the teachings of the Dharma.

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else: you are the one who gets burned.
-          The Buddha

Hermann Hesse had written some lines about suffering …. “You know quite well, deep within you, that there is only a single magic, a single power, a single salvation …..and that is called loving. Well, then, love your suffering. Do not resist it, do not flee from it. It is your aversion that hurts, nothing else.”

You cannot travel on the path until you become the path itself.
-          The Buddha

….he spoke… in that wonderfully singsongy but often incomprehensible Indian English ……in Asia the reverence people show for this man [Buddha] doesn’t necessarily have to do with religion or theology. To him, and many other Hindu Indians, the Buddha is more a historically significant figure, sometimes a Hindu deity, sometimes a human being whose ideas, values and actions deserve the highest respect, like a really good role model.
Buddhism is called the ecological religion, he said, citing the Buddha’s words: “Like a bee gathering nectar, a human is required to make appropriate use of nature so that the continuity of a beneficial pattern of man/nature relationship is not threatened. Ask a householder to accumulate wealth in ways similar to the one adopted by a bee in collecting nectar to turn into sweet honey without harming either the fragrance or the beauty of the flower.”
Mr.Safaya added, “I cannot today imagine any better definition of sustainable development than this clear statement.”

Those who are suffering from some form of insanity cling to their own phantom Ego, and those who have an exaggerated idea of their own Egos are partially insane. Nirvana is for the sober scientific analytical student, who discarding all forms of theological metaphysics, priestly ceremonies and nihilistic ideas, exerts strenuously to lead an active life avoiding evil, doing good and purifying the heart.
-          Anagarika Dharmapala

All tremble at violence; all fear death. Seeing others as being like yourself, do not kill or cause others to kill
-          The Buddha, The Dhammapada

……..Sri Lanka ……palms gently bowing with the winds. In stark contrast to the teeming intensity of India, it immediately evoked memories of tranquil tropical isles of my past and I naturally relaxed.

As long as there are monastics who delight in living in the forest, at the foot of trees, the way of the Awakened One will not decline.”
-          The Buddha, “Digha Nikaya II”

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.
-          Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

…..Thailand …..a country where 94 percent of the 64 million people are Buddhist, a country so committed to Buddhism that by order of the national constitution, the king is required to be Buddhistt.

……..all of Bangkok – a city strangled by traffic, suffering from noise and air pollution and appearing eternally under construction – reeked of commercialism

…..I wanted to meet with only two or three people at once, but that is not easy in Asia. Asians are used to being in larger groups.

……Thailand ……Since the end of World War II, the percentage of area covered by forest has dropped from 70 to about 25…..

The softest things in the world overcome the hardest things in the world. Through this I know the advantage of taking no action
-          Lao-Tzu

Eating is entertainment to the Chinese, and they go at it with a gusto unparalleled even in San Francisco, a city of foodies……

Buddhism reached the height of its popularity in China during the Sui and T’ang dynasties (581-907). However, in 845 CE Emperor Wuzong, under the influence of Taoist and Confucian advisers, began to persecute all foreign religions, including Buddhism. According to records of the time, some 4,600 Buddhist monasteries were annihilated, massive amounts of priceless artwork were destroyed and about 260,000 monks and nuns were forced to return to lay life. Buddhism never completely returned.

Late imperial China – covering the period from the Sung dynasty (960-1279) until the end of the Ch’ing dynasty (1644-1912) – continued the period of Buddhism’s decline. Though its influence on Chinese culture was pervasive, as seen in art and literature, it was receding as an intellectual endeavor. “The shift of the Chinese elite’s interest away from Buddhism and toward Confucianism, as formulated by its great systematizer Zhu Xi (1130-1200), was official state orthodoxy during the 14th century,” ……….

She had….a robust laugh, unusual for Asian women, who usually cover their mouths when they laugh delicately.

You should not lose your self-sufficient state of mind. This does not mean a closed mind, but actually an empty mind and a ready mind. If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.
-          Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

Like a beautiful flower, full of colour, but without scent, are the fine but fruitless words of him who does not act accordingly. But, like a beautiful flower, full of colour and full of scent, are the fine and fruitful words of him who acts accordingly.
-          The Buddha, The Dhammapada

The Japanese are not comfortable with the world of feelings, not comfortable with the words “I,” “me” or “my.”

Students of Zen call it the “aha moment,” when ideas align in such a way that you “get it,” whatever the “it” of the moment is. This epiphany often occurs when one’s rational mind gives up trying to decipher the indecipherable and goes tilt. Aha, Truth!

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.
-          The Buddha

…..a fairly significant percentage of American Buddhists – I have read as many as 30 percent – are of Jewish background (Jews comprise about 2.5 percent of the American population) …….Both Jews and Buddhists, who share a tendency toward answering a question with another question, would inquire, why not?
Jews are intellectual. Buddhism is the philosophy of mind. Jews have been subjected to persecution since the founding of the religion. Buddhism acknowledges that suffering is a part of life and offers a system of alleviating the pains associated with it. Buddhists chant “Om.” Jews chant “Oy.” Jews are analytical. Talmudic study requires the most detailed scrutiny of Jewish scriptures, right down to a numerological interpretation of each letter of each word. Freud, a Jew, developed a system of studying the mind called psychoanalysis. Buddhism is nothing if not analytical …….

Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering – and its all over much too soon
-          Woody Allen

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned.
-          The Buddha

True greatness consists in the use of a powerful understanding to enlighten oneself and others.
-          Voltaire

The hope of all men, in the last analysis, is simply for peace of mind.
-          Dalai Lama

It’s hard to find a noble person such a person is not born everywhere. When such a wise one is born, the family flourishes in happiness.
-          The Buddha, The Dhammapada

If you have met a Tibetan person in Boulder or Seattle or Boston, you are often struck by how easily they laugh, how radiant their faces are, how their eyes seem to dance and how, in the older ones, they exude some knowledge for which you and I will never find the Web site. They seem unburdened of, and not bothered by, the incessant white noise Westerners call their minds.

The one rule, which seems to be appropriate upon meeting any Buddhist priest of any rank throughout Asia, is “Look but don’t touch.”

……Dalai Lama ……He has told me that he does not proselytize Buddhism, that he rather promotes “human values.” Nonetheless, without ever intending to, he is Buddhism’s best advertising agency.

Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.
-          Zen Buddhist proverb

For someone at the journey’s end, freed from sorrow, liberated in all ways, released from all bonds, no fever exists.
-          The Buddha, The Dhammapada

In my end is my beginning.
-          T. S. Eliot

“You don't have a pot to piss in” [doesn't have anything of value; very poor]

“A dog can only be a dog.”
-          Hoitsu Suzuki

“The reality is …”
-          Dalai Lama

“What is good? What is bad?”
-          Eido Shimano

“Impermanence, impermanence, impermanence …”
-          Satya Narayan Goenka

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