Not identifying with self centered thoughts

Venerable Thubten Chodron talks about the proper way to look at the disadvantages of self centeredness

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Transforming obstacles

In an interesting letter to a student, Lama Zopa Rinpoche talks about transforming obstacles. He mentions:

The basic thing is “Subdue one’s own mind: This is the teaching of the Buddha.” From that comes every happiness—the happiness of today and of the next life, freedom from samsara and the peerless happiness of enlightenment. Everything comes from our mind. Therefore, it’s totally up to us. We always have to use our mind in a way that is positive because it’s the cause of all our happiness. Not in a negative way, which is the cause of all our suffering. We don’t like suffering, so we have to abandon that mind. Subduing the mind, that is what is called Dharma practice. What I’ve explained is not only what the Buddha said; if we check, it is according to our own experience.

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Being in real retreat

In this interesting reply to an old student, Lama Zopa explains the meaning of being in retreat.

You have to understand that the real retreat is not being in a cave in a remote place. The real retreat is keeping the mind in the right place, taking care of the mind. The mind has to be in retreat, not the body. You have to understand this; maybe you are forgetting this.

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Being Kind to Difficult People

In this interesting article, Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche talks about how to deal with difficult people. He mentions:

We have so many concepts about others, and sometimes even before we know that person, we’ve already given them this label: “Difficult.” It’s like a big tag they’re wearing whenever we see them. So I think what’s obstructing us from dealing with them is our prejudgments and preconceptions about who they are. We have so many thoughts about them even before we get to know them. In a sense, this may make you less able to deal with a “difficult” person. And actually, if you take a closer look, it may turn out that the difficult person is you.

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Creating peace through interdependence in a spiritual community

In this interesting transcript of a talk that Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche gave, he mentions how our increasing use of technology often alienates ourselves from one another. This however can be countered by being in a spiritual community, where one can foster inner peace. He mentions:

The prevalence of technology in modern society presents us with a dilemma: the more dependent we become, the greater the chances that we begin to see technology as a sort of savior, as something that will become our ultimate friend, our source of joy and comfort. Our love affair with technology increases day by day, and we rely on it far beyond its original, practical application; it’s place in our lives is at this point beyond our control. At this moment, human society is at risk of losing its moral and ethical basis as we work less and less with one another as fellow human beings.

Unless something changes dramatically in this co-dependence between people and technology, the isolation between fellow human beings will only increase further and further; there is no way around it. Only in small pockets of communities built around alternative lifestyles, which offer an opportunity to relate to one another in a different way, would this occur less.

There are the Amish, for example, who follow an 18th or 17th century lifestyle, which I am sure protects their minds. But for how long will they be able to remain like that? They are on the verge of losing their lifestyle and I am sure they feel incredibly threatened.

In alternative communities in general, however much they do offer a different way of life, there will always be the initial foundation of egotism as well and the never-ending problems that arise from that.

Only in the case of the Sangha, which we define as a noble community of people who base their mind on the way of life on the Dharma, could this isolation not occur. But even in a Sangha, we have actually to fulfill the potential of living life according to the Dharma if we are to avoid the pitfalls of technological culture and egotism; it does not happen on its own. To achieve this takes a process.

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Illness and Death as Natural

Here is an interesting excerpt from a teaching that Lama Yeshe gave about seeing death as natural, which allows one to relax. He mentions:

So check up now. Wisdom is unemotional in nature. Fear of illness, impermanence and death is emotional; that’s why you cry. That’s why you can’t sleep. You think, “I’m going to die tomorrow,” and your stupid, relative emotions pump you up and push you so that you can’t sleep. True understanding wisdom sees illness and death as natural, so there’s no emotional nervousness upon hearing about impermanence and death.

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