Awareness in empty space ~ Alan Wallace

Imagine yourself as a child lying on your back, gazing up into a cloudless sky, and blowing soap bubbles through a plastic ring. As a bubble drifts up into the sky, you watch it rise, and this brings your attention to the sky. While you are looking at the bubble, it pops, and you keep your attention right where the bubble had been. Your awareness now lies in empty space.

Indications of excellent and poor gurus ~ Longchenpa

Six things are taught to be indications of excellent gurus:

If those who rely on gurus are inspired and turn toward the dharma, this is an indication that, through spiritual accomplishment, these gurus have amassed clouds of blessings.

If gurus encourage students to practice and their students in turn display many positive qualities, this is an indication that these are gurus who transmit the great instructions of the profound oral lineages.

If gurus are not jealous of others to whom they might lose their retinues or possessions, this is an indication that mundane attitudes of ownership and personal ambition have fallen away from them.

If gurus know how to involve anyone at any level of understanding on the spiritual path, this is an indication that they have innate compassion and skill in benefiting beings.

If gurus are able to greatly benefit those who suffer, this is an indication that they have trained in compassion and developed immeasurable bodhichitta.

If gurus have spacious and contented minds and are free of ordinary concerns, this is an indication that they have indwelling confidence that comes from realizing the way things actually are. Seek out and rely on such qualified gurus.

There are six ways in which students are contaminated by the faults of poor teachers:

Students who rely on poor mentors are tainted by fixation on the extremes of naive affirmation and nihilistic denial because of their teachers’ dubious belief systems.

They are led to commit harmful, negative actions because of their teachers’ improper conduct.

They become increasingly quarrelsome and mean-spirited because of their teachers’ signs of inferior spiritual attainment.

They indulge in their confused perceptions and habit patterns because of the poor meditation they are taught.

They are obsessed with mundane affairs because of the questionable spiritual methods in which they train.

They fall into lower realms of samsara because of the inferior goals they are taught to seek.

Therefore, for those who have faith and seek the path to liberation, a poor teacher is the greatest obstacle caused by maras. So identify such teachers and avoid them at all costs.

The enlightened qualities of the five Buddha families ~ Thrangu Rinpoche

The essential nature of a bodhisattva or a Buddha is that he or she embodies the enlightened qualities of the five Buddha families, which pervade every living being without exception, including ourselves. To achieve the realization of these five Buddha families it is necessary to abandon the five afflictions of attachment, anger, ignorance, pride, and envy. When these disturbing emotions are purified, the five wisdoms shine forth. Realization of the five wisdoms is the realization of the five dhyani Buddhas.

Actions arising from anger ~ Padampa Sangye

You don’t understand that a moment’s action arising from anger is worse than a hundred actions arising from desire.

Like a cloud passing through the sky ~ Joseph Goldstein

An emotion is like a cloud passing through the sky. Sometimes it is fear or anger, sometimes it is happiness or love, sometimes it is compassion. But none of them ultimately constitute a self. They are just what they are, each manifesting its own quality. With this understanding, we can cultivate the emotions that seem helpful and simply let the others be, without aversion, without suppression, without identification.

The air we breathe ~ 17th Karmapa

Turning our attention to the most basic condition for our life on this planet — the air we breathe — we see that we cannot be separated from our physical environment. Even if we could manage for some time without food or clothing, we cannot survive more than a few minutes without oxygen. A vast number of conditions need to come together to yield the uninterrupted supply of oxygen that is indispensable to keep us alive, yet we ourselves make no conscious effort to bring those conditions about. Contemplating this basic fact can spark a sense of wonder and gratitude toward the planet itself.

The solutions have to be progressive ~ Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

The Buddha advised that the practice of the Vinaya has to be progressive, adapting to time and place. Over time, the nature of emotions, hang-ups, reference points, and neuroses have adjusted because of changing culture; therefore, the solutions have to be progressive.

One can be progressive and still traditional. The guru should not insist that students visualize the offering goddesses in the cartoonish Tibetan thangka style; if a student wishes to visualize something more akin to Billie Holiday, that should be fine — it doesn’t alter the practice. Likewise, if the student wishes to add a few items to the mandala plate, like headphones and false eyelashes, the guru should rejoice.

The three aspects of diligence ~ Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Diligence has three aspects. The first, called armor-like diligence, is to develop a joyous courage and fortitude which you wear like armor against discouragement. The second is diligence in action, which is to set about accumulating merit through the practice of the six paramitas without delay or procrastination. The third is diligence that cannot be stopped, an insatiable and unremitting energy to work for the sake of others. Diligence should permeate the practice of the other paramitas, and invigorate them all.