Birth is just like riding in a boat. You raise the sails and you steer. Although you maneuver the sail and the pole, the boat gives you a ride, and without the boat you couldn’t ride. But you ride in the boat, and your riding makes the boat what it is. Investigate a moment such as this. At just such a moment, there is nothing but the world of the boat. The sky, the water, and the shore are all the boat’s world, which is not the same as a world that is not the boat’s. Thus you make birth what it is; you make birth your birth. When you ride in a boat, your body, mind, and environs together are the undivided activity of the boat. The entire earth and the entire sky are both the undivided activity of the boat. Thus birth is nothing but you; you are nothing but birth.
The root of both samsara and nirvana is to be found within your mind;
People of Tingri, the mind is free of any true reality.
Generosity need not be applied only in the material realm. We can also cultivate a spirit of generosity in whatever problem we are working on. We do this by making an offering of ourselves – offering a hand, offering a word, offering heart and mind – as a positive condition in any situation we find ourselves in. This attitude extends our open heart and mind into action and keeps us ready to act to benefit others.
When you are practicing Zazen, do not try to stop your thinking. Let it stop by itself. If something comes into your mind, let it come in, and let it go out. It will not stay long. When you try to stop your thinking, it means you are bothered by it. Do not be bothered by anything. It appears as if something comes from outside your mind, but actually it is only the waves of your mind, and if you are not bothered by the waves, gradually they will become calmer and calmer.
As it is said in the teachings, first think that every happiness — day-to-day happiness; future life happiness (deva and human rebirth); nirvana, the blissful state of peace for oneself which is experienced forever; and even the total cessation of the obscurations and completion of realizations, the peerless happiness — comes from the mind.
All the happiness that we experience came from our mind, and all the suffering — hell, hungry ghost, animal, human being —came from our mind. That’s because in the past we created nonvirtue as well as harming others. All our suffering came from that and all our happiness came from virtue. So our mind is the basic creator, not God, not Buddha, Dharma, Sangha.
One of the problems meditators experience is that there is a slight, almost subconscious, guilty feeling that they ought to be doing something rather than just experiencing what goes on. When you begin to feel that you ought to be doing something, you automatically present millions of obstacles to yourself. Meditation is not a project; it is a way of being. You could experience that you are what you are. Fundamentally, sitting there and breathing is a very valid thing to do.
A willingness to be inspired and a tendency to be turned off are both relative reactions: some people are inspired by the sight of a serene monk with a begging bowl; others by a half-drunk, half-naked yogi. Certain vajrayana students derive far more inspiration from the sight of a bizarrely dressed guru sporting a good deal of gold jewelry and breaking all the rules of social etiquette than a perfect monk, which, again, shows that the sources of our inspiration are both relative and subjective. Not only does each one of us find inspiration in different places, but what inspires a fifteen-year-old will no longer have the same effect once that person hits forty.
Your flesh and bones took form together, but in the end are sure to separate;
People of Tingri, do not believe that you will live forever.
Asking yourself, What am I doing? will help you overcome the habit of wanting to complete things quickly. Smile to yourself and say, Washing this dish is the most important job in my life. When you ask, What am I doing?, reflect deeply on the question. If your thoughts are carrying you away, you need mindfulness to intervene. When you are really there, washing the dishes can be a deep and enjoyable experience.
May we gain conviction in the view,
wherein samsara and nirvana are the same.
May we have consummate skill in meditation,
a natural flow unaltered, uncontrived.
May we bring our action to perfection,
a natural, unintended, spontaneity.
May we find the dharmakaya,
beyond all gaining and rejection.