This variety of desirous and hateful thoughts
that strands us in the ocean of cyclic existence
once realized to be without intrinsic nature,
makes everything a golden land, child.
If you meditate on the illusion-like nature
of illusion-like phenomena,
actual illusion-like buddhahood
will occur through the power of devotion.
You do not have to abandon worldly activities in order to attain effortless unconcern. You should know that worldly activities and effortless unconcern are not two different things, but if you keep thinking about rejection and grasping, you make them two.
Nirvana means extinction, the extinction of all notions and concepts, including the concepts of birth, death, being, nonbeing, coming, and going. Nirvana is the ultimate dimension of life, a state of coolness, peace, and joy. It is not a state to be attained after death. You can touch nirvana right now by breathing, walking, and drinking your tea in mindfulness.
Viewing others through the lens of interdependence helps us see that we are not separate from people on the other side of these seeming gaps. We are capable of seeing causal connections that link us to others who appears to be remote from us, even if such links are not visible to the naked eye. For example, we can review the ample evidence and arguments that show that those who have less economic power provide the labor that keeps down the cost of living and fuels the material prosperity of those who have more. This means we can identify ties between our meal and the field workers who harvested our vegetables and factory workers who manufactured our dishes. Yet having this intellectual knowledge of our connection to them does not automatically make us feel personally close to them, especially when the outer conditions of their lives seem so different from our own.
We are in many ways creatures of habit. If we live within certain conditions long enough, they come to seem natural to us. But if we had lived in different conditions, they would seem equally natural. Looking at the cultural, religious, or material conditions that others have become habituated to may make us feel that they must be totally different from us, but we are just mistaking something circumstantial for something essential. It is largely an accident of our birth and our life circumstances that we have come to find certain conditions familiar and others alien or distant. It is not an indication of anything essentially other or different about us.
All beings consist of causes and effects,
In which there is no ‘sentient being’ at all.
From phenomena which are exclusively empty,
There arise only empty phenomena.
All things are devoid of any ‘I’ or ‘mine’.
Like a recitation, a candle, a mirror, a seal,
A magnifying glass, a seed, sourness, or a sound,
So also with the continuation of the aggregates —
The wise should know they are not transferred.
There’s no real happiness among any of the six classes of beings.
If we consider the sufferings of the three lower realms,
When you feel upset just by hearing about them,
How will you possibly cope when you experience them directly?
Even the happiness and pleasures of the three upper realms,
Are just like fine food that’s been laced with poison,
Enjoyable at first, but in the long run a cause of ruin.
Who feels angry? Where does this anger rise from? Is there a place where this anger is now? Is there someone who is angry, since we feel so strongly, “I am angry”? Is there a real substance, a force? Questioning in this way, it’s absolutely impossible to find such a thing. There is neither a place to find, nor a substance, nor any entity. It’s simply a seeming presence, a mere movement of the attention which has no reality to it whatsoever. It is like a bubble on the surface of water.
Peace, in the sense of the absence of war, is of little value to someone who is dying of hunger or cold. It will not remove the pain of torture inflicted on a prisoner of conscience. It does not comfort those who have lost their loved ones in floods caused by senseless deforestation in a neighboring country. Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where the people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free.
All parties are changed by being in relationship. Just being connected to someone or something means we are each forming part of the other. This is true in all forms of interdependence, from those that form planetary systems to our most intimate and personal relationships. For example, in the case of parents and children, although in the more obvious sense parents produce children, yet it is only by having children that people become parents. We could even say that parents are born in the moment that their first child comes into their life. Before they had children, a woman and a man were not a mother or father. In that sense, children also make their parents “parents”. Interdependence connects us on many levels and always works both ways.”
Unless one is omniscient or at least enjoys some degree of clairvoyance, no one can judge others. One can see how others appear and how they are behaving, but not who they are or why they are behaving in a particular manner. For example, enlightened ones such as buddhas, bodhisattvas, and sages appear in peaceful forms and wrathful forms, but all their activities will be for serving others with love. This is why the fully enlightened Buddha said, “Apart from myself and those like me, no one can judge another person.”