Eastern Thought

Manifest plainness
Embrace simplicity
Reduce selfishness
Have few desires
Lao Tzu

Riches prick us with a thousand troubles for their acquistion, as many cares in their preservation, even more anxiety in their spending, and finally grief with their loss.
St. Francis

We must have a pure, honest, and warm-hearted motivation, and on top of that, determination, optimism, hope, and the ability not to be discouraged. The whole of humanity depends on this motivation.
H. H. Dalai Lama

Be the change you want to see.

nothing to be, nothing to do, nothing to have
Buddhassa Bhikkhu

The Glorious Scamp

My faith in human dignity consists in the belief that man is the greatest scamp onearth. Human dignity must be associated with the idea of a scamp and not with thatof an obedient, disciplined and regimented soldier. The scamp is probably the mostglorious type of human being, as the soldier is the lowest type, according tothis conception. For things are not so simple as they sometimes seem. In thispresent age of threats to democracy and individual liberty, probably only thescamp and the spirit of the scamp alone will save us from becoming lost as serially numbered units in the masses of disciplined, obedient, regimented and uniformed coolies. The scamp will be the last and most formidable enemy of dictatorships. He will be the champion of human dignity and individual freedom, and will be the last to be conquered. All modern civilization depends entirely upon him.

Lin Yutang
The Importance of Living 1937

Words on Loving-Kindness

This is what should be done
By one who is skilled in goodness,
And who knows the path of peace:
Let them be able and upright,
Straightforward and gentle in speech.
Humble and not conceited,
Contented and easily satisfied.
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.
Peaceful and calm, and wise and skillful,
Not proud and demanding in nature.

Let them not do the slightest thing
That the wise would later reprove.

Wishing: In gladness and in saftey,
May all beings be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be;
Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,
The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,
The seen and the unseen,
Those living near and far away,
Those born and to-be-born,
May all beings be at ease!

Let none deceive another,
Or despise any being in any state.
Let none through anger or ill-will
Wish harm upon another.

Even as a mother protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings:
Radiating kindness over the entire world
Spreading upwards to the skies,
And downwards to the depths;
Outwards and unbounded,
Freed from hatred and ill-will.

Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down
Free from drowsiness,
One should sustain this recollection.

This is said to be the sublime abiding.
By not holding to fixed views,
The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision,
Being freed from all sense desires,
Is not born again into this world.

Metta Sutta

Voluntary Simplicity

The wisdom of contentment opens up to us the possibility of simplicity in our lives. We are so conditioned to want more, to think that we will be happier if we accumulate more money or possessions, more honor, fame, power, sex, and soforth, that we burden ourselves with acquisitions, both material and psychological. The underlying rationale of this wanting mind is that fulfillment will make us happy. If we stop to reflect upon our situation, we can see that the attitude of wanting more simply leads to greater craving and frustration.

The problem is not that we too rarely fulfill our desires, but that we so often do, yet are still left wanting. How many beautiful sounds, delicious tastes, wonderful sensations, exciting thoughts, rapturous feelings have we already experienced in our lives Countless, too many even to remember. But all this has not yet satisfied the wanting mind. We have a desire, gratify it, and experience some pleasure, and when conditions change and the pleasure diminishes or goes away, we find a return of craving, wanting more, motivated by the same sense of lack. We try again and again to come to completion, but it doesn't work; we're never done.

What is it that we crave Craving is hunger for pleasant feelings. Whether we crave pleasant sights, sounds, smells, tastes, bodily sensations, or mental states, what we are after is the feeling of pleasantness. The difficulty is that even when the pleasant feelings come, they don't last very long. We go around and around, looking for permanent satisfaction in phenomena that in their very nature are impermanent.

A story of Mullah Nasruddin illustrates this predicament. One night some of Nasruddin's friends came upon him crawling around on his hands and knees searching for something beneath a lamppost. When they asked him what he was looking for, he told them that he had lost the key to his house. They all got down to help him look, but without any success. Finally, one of them asked Nasruddin where exactly he had lost the key. Nasruddin replied, "In the house."

"Then why," his friends asked, "are you looking under the lamppost '

Nasruddin replied, "Because there's more light here."

We are doing the same thing — seeking fulfillment in sense pleasure because that seems the obvious place to look. It is where everyone else is looking, believing it to be the place where happiness is to be found. But a more genuine happiness and peace lie in contentment and simplicity. We really don't need very much to be happy. Voluntary simplicity creates the possibility of tremendous lightness and spaciousness in our lives. As the forces of craving and acquisitiveness cool down and we are less driven by impulses of the wanting mind, we experience a greater and greater peace.

And rather than this being the cause of a withdrawal from the world, it creates a space in our lives in which we can move and act with greater strength and integrity. Generosity becomes a more spontaneous expression of our understanding, giving open-heartedly of our time, energy,material objects, kindness, care, and love. In addition to being a wonderful basis for our relationships with others, the practice of generosity also helps us to see more clearly into the subtle motives and attachments in our own behavior.

Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield
Seeking the Heart of Wisdom

The Middle Path

Cook Ting was cutting up an ox for Lord Wen-hui. At every touch of his hand, every heave of his shoulder, every move of his feet, every thrust of his knee — zip! zoop! He slithered the knife along with a zing, and all was in perfect rhythm, as though he were performing the dance of the Mulberry Grove or keeping time to tile Ching-shou Music.

“Ah, this is marvelous!” said Lord Yen-hui. “Imagine skill reaching such heights!”

Cook Ting laid down his knife and replied, “What I care about is the Way, which goes beyond skill. When I first began cutting up oxen, all I could see was the ox itself. After three years I no longer saw the whole ox. And now I go at it by spirit and don’t look with my eyes.Perception and understanding have come to a stop and spirit moves where it wants. I go along with the natural makeup, strike in the big hollows, guide the knife through the big openings, and follow things as they are. So I never touch the smallest ligament or tendon, much less a main joint.

“A good cook changes his knife once a year — because he cuts. A mediocre cook changes his knife once a month — because he hacks. I’ve had this knife of mine for nineteen years and I’ve cut up thousands of oxen with it, and yet the blade is as good as though it had just come from the grindstone. There are spaces between the joints, and the blade of the knife has really no thickness. If you insert what has no thickness into such spaces, then there’s plenty of room, more than enough for the blade to play about it. That’s why after nineteen years the blade of my knife is still as good as when it first came from the grindstone.

Translated by Burton Watson
The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

Empty Boat

If a man is crossing a river
And an empty boat collides with his own skiff
Even though he be a bad-tempered man
He will not become very angry.
But if he sees a man in the boat,
He will shout at him to steer clear.
If the shout is not heard, he will shout again,
And yet again, and begin cursing.
And all because there is somebody in the boat.
Yet if the boat were empty,
He would not be shouting, and not be angry.

If you can empty your own boat
Crossing the river of the world,
No one will oppose you,
No one will seek to harm you.
Chuang Tzu

The Five Wonderful Mindfulness Trainings

1. Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I vow to cultivate compassion and learn ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to condone any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, and in my way of life.

2. Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, I vow to cultivate loving kindness and learn ways to work for the well-being of people, animals, plants and minerals. I vow to practice generosity by sharing my time, energy and material resources with those who are in real need. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others. I will respect the property of others, but I will prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other species on Earth.

3. Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I vow to cultivate responsibility and learn ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society. I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without love and a long-term commitment. To preserve the happiness of myself and others, I am determined to respect my commitments and the commitments of others. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct.

4. Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I vow to cultivate loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I vow to learn to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy and hope. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or the community to break. I will make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.

5. Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I vow to cultivate good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking and consuming. I vow to ingest only items that preserve peace, well-being, and joy in my body, in my consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family and society. I am determined not to use alcohol or any other intoxicant or to ingest foods or other items that contain toxins, such as certain TV programs, magazines, books, films, and conversations. I am aware that to damage my body or my consciousness with these poisons is to betray my ancestors, my parents, my society and future generations. I will work to transform violence, fear, anger and confusion in myself and in society by practicing a diet for myself and society. I understand that a proper diet is crucial for self-transformation and for the transformation of society.

Thich Nhat Hanh

The Great Way

The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent everything becomes clear and undisguised. Make the smallest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart. If you wish to see the truth then hold no opinions for or against anything. To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind. When the deep meaning of things is not understood the mind's essential peace is disturbed to no avail.

Pledge of Allegiance

I pledge allegiance to the Earth
and to the flora, fauna, and human life
that it supports.

One planet, indivisible,
with safe water, air and soil.

With economic justice, equal rights,
and peace for all.

From where does the impulse to be free originate,
and to whom does the impluse to be free arise?
Ron Lister

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