Comprehensive, inspiring and practical, The Heart Of Buddha’s Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh helps us to integrate Buddhist ideas into our everyday life without becoming too encumbered with terminology. Although Thich Nhat Hanh does tend to repeat himself in subtle ways, within this book and across his other books, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching seems to integrate many of his ideas into one very coherent and practical treatise on the nature suffering as one of the most basic human conditions we spend our lives trying to accept, or possibly escape. I hope these 10 passages effectively condense the beauty of this book.
From Publishers Weekly:
Thich Nhat Hanh’s introduction begins with the Turning the Dharma Wheel Sutra, the classic tale of Buddha’s announcement in the Deer Park of his awakening. Nhat Hanh then proceeds through a series of laundry-list definitions of core Buddhist terminology: Four Noble Truths, The Noble Eightfold Path, The Three Dharma Seals, The Three Doors of Liberation, The Twelve Links of Causation, The Three Jewels, The Six Harmonies, The Five Powers, The Five Wonderful Precepts and The Four Immeasurable Minds. Despite the tedium of the list, Nhat Hanh does present Buddhism as way of thinking and a well-traveled path toward enlightenment. Buddhism, he teaches, is not only about the individual’s attainment of enlightenment but also about the community, past and present, which has fostered the possibility of an individual’s enlightenment. As an introduction to Buddhism, this is a masterful inventory of the basic accouterments of a well-furnished Buddhist life.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
In, out Deep, slow Calm, ease Smile, release Present moment, wonderful moment
Mindfulness is the energy that allows us to recognize our habit energy and prevent it from dominating us.
Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything — anger, anxiety, or possessions — we cannot be free.
The Buddha said many times, “My teaching is like a finger pointing to the moon. Do not mistake the finger for the moon.”
When we are mindful, touching deeply the present moment, the fruits are always understanding, acceptance, love, and the desire to relieve suffering and bring joy.
My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground on which I stand.
The greatest miracle is to be alive. We can put an end to our suffering just by realizing that our suffering is not worth suffering for!
After calming, the third function of shamatha is resting.
The Buddha called suffering a Holy Truth, because our suffering has the capacity of showing us the path to liberation. Embrace your suffering, and let it reveal to you the way to peace.
The first function of meditation — shamatha — is to stop. The second function of shamatha is calming.
- If you can be absolutely quiet then the heavenly heart will spontaneously manifest itself.
- Dreams are the wanderings of the spirit through all nine heavens and all nine earths.
- Whoever seeks eternal life must search for the place whence human nature and life originally sprang.
- The secret of the magic of life consists in using action in order to attain non-action.
- The primal spirit loves stillness, and the conscious spirit loves movement.
- Therefore you have only to make the light circulate: that is the deepest and most wonderful secret.
- The Golden Flower is the Elixir of Life (Chin-tan, golden pill). All changes of spiritual consciousness depend upon the heart. There is a secret charm which, although it works very accurately, is yet so fluid that it needs extreme intelligence and clarity, and the most complete absorption and tranquility.
- Only through contemplation and quietness does true intuition arise: for that the backward-flowing method is necessary.
- Only after concentrated work of a hundred days will the light be genuine, then only will it become spirit-fire. After a hundred days there develops by itself in the midst of the light a point of the true light-pole (yang). Then suddenly there develops the seed pearl. It is as if man and woman embraced and a conception took place. Then one must be quite still and wait. The circulation of the light is the epoch of fire.
- “If one cultivates one’s action while mingling with the world and is still in harmony with the light, then the round is round and the angular has angles; then he lives among men, mysterious yet visible, different and yet the same, and none can compass it; then no one notices our secret actions”. The living manner of the circulation of the light has jus this meaning: to live mingling with the world and yet in harmony with the light.
Richard Wilhelm (Editor, Translator)
When…one moves one’s hand from the chair to the table it is because one thinks… that one will receive greater pleasure. If one did not think so, one would leave one’s hand on the chair for the rest of one’s life.
Kabbalist Yehuda Ashlag
And when somebody commits suicide for the benefit of others? Wow! What is it that lets one person serenely immolate themselves , but tethers others to compulsion or addiction for a lifetime?
Laitman a Kabbalist, author and somewhat of a cult figure in the Holy Land, asserts that the life of an individual is controlled by a balance of internal and external motivators. In Kabbalist terms these forces are called the ‘Will to receive’. Laitman suggests that Mans Will is divided into 4 degrees:
- Physical desires for food, reproduction, and family;
- Power and respect, sometimes separated into two distinct groups; and
- Desire for knowledge.
In short when we have these desires in perfect balance the true self may operate with perfect freedom. In our primordial state we are said to be naturally balanced or unbiased, neither having habits nor opinions, nor an ego severed from Gaia, or the reality of which it is a part. How remarkable then that children learn so much, and so fast, later to become , hobbled and hateful. Matter dominates Mankinds Will because Mankinds Will is spent trying to dominate matter! We see what this does to the individual but imagine a civilization?
How does this tie with anti-Buddhism? By, ‘anti’ I mean antipodal;
Kabbalah, seems to emphasise the flow of Will [and hence people/life] through a strategic control of desired objects, sounds like capitalism no? Buddhism, perhaps, reverses this in emphasising, ‘naturalness’, waiting for the tide and following the habits of nature. The majesty of life holds together immaculately so why not sit back and enjoy?
Zen goes further, suggesting we transcend the sensory World, thus our Karmic legacy and our biased Will, all together and then act with the peaceful and detached spontaneity of childhood.
Just my take, but ad astra alas Zen!
How Will You See?
In the days of the great cathedral builders, a student of Masonic philosophy came to study under a renowned master architect. When he was departing a few years later, the master warned him: “Studying the truth speculatively is useful as a way of collecting material for books and lectures. But unless you meditate constantly your Masonic light may go out, and then how will you see that which you are studying?”
Taoism and Zen are easily confused, making a coherent comparison that respects both hard to come by, for many years I assumed they were both different shades of Buddhism. Later in life important distinctions become apparent. It is the, ‘open closedness’ that draws us Westerners to Zen, mirrored by the, ‘closed openness’ of Taoism which only later the experienced mind finds concurrent with western mysticism . Perhaps in reality they form opposite sides of the same pyramid.
Here’s the explanation:
Although Taoism influenced the development of Zen Buddhism, Zen and Taoist practices differ both in intent and technique (see below).
The intent of Zen practice is to put an end to self-centered thinking so that one can focus on genuinely helping others. Another name for this is “enlightenment.”
The intent of Taoist practices can vary, but generally they focus on personal qualities of longevity, harmony, health, or stillness.
In general, Taoist teaching does not incorporate the bodhisattva ideal of Buddhism – the commitment to ease the great suffering in the world.
Buddhism doesn’t place much emphasis on cosmological or ontological explanation. Rather, it focuses on how the mind functions to create suffering and how to transform the mind’s function so that suffering does not arise.
Taoism, on the other hand, provides a fairly comprehensive view of the natural world and humanity’s place in that world. And Taoism has developed many techniques to bring a person into greater harmony with the world. Taoism also has a large and diverse set of beliefs about immortality, deities, and creators. Most of this belief system is quite different than anything imagined in Western religion.
There are 5 types of mind training used in Zen meditation. This link gives you a description of each type of training: http://kwanumzen.org/practice/sitting.ht…
There are many types of mind and body training used in Taoist meditation, including both sitting and movement meditations.
Taoist sitting meditation often includes a combination of special breathing techniques and visualizations that produce certain energetic results.
Taoist moving meditation includes tai chi and qi gong practices to heal the bodies energy pathways and cultivate certain healthful energy states.
This link describes many of the types of meditation techniques used in Taoist practice: http://taoism.about.com/od/meditation/Me…
Here’s a quote that struck me, and perhaps you, if you too are battling with with the balance of work and life. Already a Quarter turn of the year and the ‘Great work’ (or even the lesser work) seems for me just a pinprick of light across the gulf of Space . But please bear what S.G. Vasudev has to say in mind the next time you feel Matter over Mind.
Time, as it is measured in the flow of ideas, in the tides of the imagination, or in the seasons of the mind seems to be free from tyranny. At a cursory glance so little seems to have changed; yet much has. There has been the slow, undulating motion of Artistic growth.
Ambassadors of Light
Once during medieval times, a division of soldiers was engaged in a mock battle and some of the officers found it necessary to make their headquarters in a masons’ lodge.
The Master of the lodge told his stewards: “Feed them, but only the same simple fare that we eat.”
Because they were accustomed to special treatment, this made the officers angry. One said to the stewards: “Who do you think we are? We are the king’s soldiers, willing to sacrifice our lives for our country. Why don’t you treat us accordingly?”
The Master answered sternly: “Who do you think we are? We are ambassadors of light, working to raise temples to the glory of God.”