Articles

No to Anti-Muslim, No to Anti-Semitism, No to Hate

No to Anti-Muslim, No to Anti-Semitism, No to Hate

In these confusing and heated political times, there has been an increase in hate speech and action. In response, we need to rededicate ourselves and our society to the underlying principles of compassion, ethics and kindness. Buddhism teaches us there is only one way...

Heart and Conduct

Heart and Conduct

One way we create identity is seeing ourself as a member of a particular ethnic group, religion, tribe, caste, and class. I can identify myself as a middle-class, university-educated American. I can identify with being a Buddhist. I can identify with my ethnic roots...

Tolerance in Difficult Times

Tolerance in Difficult Times

Traditional teachings focus so often on love and its transformative spirit that we can overlook a more basic and fundamental power—the tolerant heart. Human differences are enormous: our rhythms, what our bodies like, our aesthetic sense, our emotions, our fears, the...

The Time is Now

The Time is Now

Buddhist teachings are filled with the principles of respect, tolerance, and compassion. When community members were sick, the Buddha told his followers to care for them as they would care for the Buddha himself. When those in grief and those who were afraid came to...

Service Is the Expression of the Awakened Heart

Service Is the Expression of the Awakened Heart

Years ago Ram Dass went to his guru, Neem Karoli Baba, to ask, “How can I best be enlightened?” His guru answered, “Love people.” When he asked about the most direct path to awakening, his guru answered, “Feed people. Love people and feed people. Serve the Divine in...

Open Your Heart

Open Your Heart

On December 5, my wife Trudy Goodman, Sharon Salzberg, and I celebrated the end of the Open Your Heart retreat we had been teaching with Ram Dass on Maui. The 375 participants who had been meditating, chanting, and living in a field of love all week lined up to...

Practicing the Dharma In Uncertain Times

Practicing the Dharma In Uncertain Times

When times are uncertain, difficult, fearful, full of change, they become the perfect place to deepen the practice of awakening. After viewing the elections....whatever your point of view, Take time to quiet the mind and tend to the heart. Then go out and look at the...

Meditation On Lovingkindness

Meditation On Lovingkindness

  May I be filled with lovingkindness “I am larger, better than I thought; I did not know I held so much goodness.” – Walt Whitman This meditation uses words, images, and feelings to evoke a lovingkindness and friendliness toward oneself and others. With each...

The Zen of an Aching Heart

The Zen of an Aching Heart

"Your days pass like rainbows, like a flash of lightning, like a star at dawn. Your life is short. How can you quarrel?" ~Buddha  In the Jewish mystical tradition, one great Rabbi taught his disciples to memorize and contemplate the teachings and place the prayers and...

“The blues is the truth.”

“The blues is the truth.”

In a healthy response to pain and fear, we establish awareness before it becomes anger. We can train ourselves to notice the gap between the moments of sense experience and the subsequent response. Because of the particle-like nature of consciousness, we can enter the...

Reclaiming Our Lost Sense of Self

Reclaiming Our Lost Sense of Self

How can our practice help us develop a healthy and full sense of self? How can we come to true self? There are several aspects of this process to understand. Our initial sense of self or positive ego strength, as it is described in Western psychology, comes from our...

Patience is the Wrong Word

Patience is the Wrong Word

Patience has a certain impatience built into it. In Zen the word is “constancy.” Instead of patience, constancy is a kind of dedication to what you love and what you care about, and with that dedication comes a trust that by planting beautiful seeds, eventually in...

Enacting Mindfully

Enacting Mindfully

Another means for working with difficulties is called Enacting It Mindfully. Let’s face it, we act out most of our desires anyway. In this way, we take whatever difficulty has repeated itself, and fulfill it while being fully aware of what is happening throughout the...

Forgiveness Repairs the World

Forgiveness Repairs the World

Buddhist psychology offers specific teachings and practices for the development of forgiveness.  Like the practice of compassion, forgiveness does not ignore the truth of our suffering.  Forgiveness is not weak.  It demands courage and integrity.  Yet only forgiveness...

Remembering Who You Are

Remembering Who You Are

"How amazing. All living beings have the Buddha nature of awakening and freedom, yet they do not realize this. Unknowingly they wander on the ocean of suffering for lifetimes. It is time to realize your own Buddha nature." ~Prajnaparamita Our delusion can be dispelled...

Healthy Desire

Healthy Desire

Buddhist psychology teaches us to distinguish between the painful desire of addiction and driven ambition and the healthy energies of dedication and commitment. A dream or powerful goal, whether to write a successful novel, to compete in the Olympics, or to create a...

Immediacy

Immediacy

Spiritual Awakening is found in the here and now. In the Zen tradition they say, "After the ecstasy, the laundry." Spiritual maturity manifests itself in the immanent as well as in the transcendent. It seeks to allow the divine to shine through our every action....

Awaken the Buddha Within

Awaken the Buddha Within

The karmic patterns that we create through our hearts transcend the limitations of time and space. To awaken the heart of compassion and wisdom in a response to all circumstances is to become a Buddha. When we awaken the Buddha within ourselves, we awaken to a...

Stephen Levine: Healer, poet, sage & beloved teacher (1937-2016)

Stephen Levine: Healer, poet, sage & beloved teacher (1937-2016)

I can hear Stephen Levine’s loving voice counseling healing awareness, soft belly, compassion, and mercy within mercy to all who came to see him and his beloved partner Ondrea. Their students brought everything, their spiritual longing and beauty along with their...

Forgiving Ourselves

Forgiving Ourselves

Finding a way to extend forgiveness to ourselves is one of our most essential tasks. Just as others have been caught in suffering, so have we. If we look honestly at our life, we can see the sorrows and pain that have led to our own wrongdoing. In this we can finally...

Balancing What is Reactive

Balancing What is Reactive

What is it that is reactive? Our minds are reactive: liking and disliking, judging and comparing, clinging and condemning. Our minds are like a balance scale, and as long as we’re identified with these judgments and preferences, likes and dislikes, wants and...

Finding the Middle Way

Finding the Middle Way

"Hence the purpose of Holy Life does not consist in acquiring merit, honour, or fame, nor in gaining morality, concentration, or the eye of knowledge.  That unshakable deliverance, the sure heart’s release, that indeed is the object of the Holy Life, that is its...

Moving Toward Freedom

Moving Toward Freedom

Learning takes place only in a mind that is innocent and vulnerable.—Krishnamurti There are four principles for mindful transformation of difficulties, poetically articulated by Michele McDonald with the acronym RAIN. RAIN stands for Recognition, Acceptance,...

The Path Is Not Linear but Circular and Continuous

The Path Is Not Linear but Circular and Continuous

Systematic depictions of spiritual stages can make it seem as if the path is simple, linear, and progressive, as if spiritual life were a step-by-step development of oneself over time. In one way, the maps are correct, and we do gradually purify, open, release, and...

Honesty and a Non-Contentious Heart

Honesty and a Non-Contentious Heart

The Buddha’s teachings point to a non-contentious heart.  “There is gain and loss, slander and honor, praise and blame, pleasure and pain; the awakened ones are not controlled by these external things; they will cease as quickly as they arise.  If others speak against...

The Sacredness of Form

The Sacredness of Form

"Teach us to care and not to care." ~T.S. Elliot  If you tell a Zen master everything is like a dream, she will take her stick and whack you over the head.  Then she will ask, “Is that a dream?”  Focusing on the big picture alone is not enough. Form must be honored. ...

Redemption and Forgiveness

Redemption and Forgiveness

“No one is forgotten. It is a lie, any talk of God that does not comfort you.” ~Meister Ekhart Milarepa, the most famous saint in the Himalayas, was a Tibetan youth whose family was terribly abused by relatives after his father died. As a result, Milarepa was urged by...

The Compass of the Heart

The Compass of the Heart

We hear the word karma all the time. I heard it on the radio in an advertisement for cars, “It’s Bob Bridge’s karma to sell to you for less.” I saw it on a drugstore greeting card, a chimpanzee with a sad looking face, “I’m repenting of my bad karma for forgetting to...

Seeing the Secret Goodness

Seeing the Secret Goodness

We can practice the awakening of sacred perception in our daily life, step-by-step.   1) Wait for a day when you awaken in a fine mood, when your heart is open to the world. If such days are rare, choose the best you have. Before you start for work, set the clear...

Sacred Perception

Sacred Perception

  The saints are what they are, not because their sanctity makes them admirable to others, but because the gift of sainthood makes it possible for them to admire everybody else. — Thomas Merton  Each time we meet another human being and honor their dignity, we...

Compassion is Our Nature

Compassion is Our Nature

From the perspective of Buddhist psychology, compassion is natural. It derives from our interconnection, which Buddhism calls “interdependence.” This can be readily seen in the physical world.  In the womb, every child is interdependent with its mother’s body. If...

Inner Freedom: Liberation of the Heart

Inner Freedom: Liberation of the Heart

If we do not focus on human limits and pathology, what is the alternative?  There is another orientation, a way to recover our human happiness.  It is the belief that human freedom is possible under any circumstances.  Buddhist teachings put it this way, “Just as the...

Noble Friendship

Noble Friendship

Then the venerable Ananda approached the Lord, prostrated himself and sat down to one side. Sitting there the venerable Ananda said to the Lord: “Half of this holy life, Lord, is good and noble friends, companionship with the good, association with the good.” “Do not...

Natural Joy (Part Two)

Natural Joy (Part Two)

(Read Part One: Natural Joy)   When I returned to the United States and began to teach, my colleagues and I tended to emphasize the Buddha’s teaching on suffering and the need to awaken.  We were young and the focus on human suffering gave our retreats a...

Natural Joy

Natural Joy

When Harvard psychologist Jack Engler was doing his research, he asked Dipama about the place of joy. “This all sounds very gray,” he said. “Getting rid of greed, getting rid of hate, getting rid of ignorance. Where’s the juice?” “Oh, you don’t understand!” Dipama...

Optimal Mental Health

Optimal Mental Health

"With wisdom let your mind full of love pervade one quarter of the world, and so to the second, third and fourth quarter.  Fill the whole wide world, above, below, around, pervade with love filled thought, free from any ill-will, love abounding, sublime, beyond...

Malleability and Insight:  The Fruits of Concentration

Malleability and Insight: The Fruits of Concentration

Once concentrated, the mind can be directed in specific ways.  This function is called “malleability of mind” in Buddhist psychology.   It means that we can shift the focus of the mind in surprisingly easy and steady fashion.  Spatially, we can change the field of...

Free From Views (Part Two)

Free From Views (Part Two)

Read Part One: Free From Views   Such listening is never more powerful than when we sit face to face with the mystery of death.  When we sit with those who are dying, the only way to be helpful is to come with no agenda.  Sometimes dying people weep and grieve. ...

Free From Views

Free From Views

"The emergence and blossoming of understanding, love and intelligence has nothing to do with any tradition – no matter how ancient or impressive – it has nothing to do with time.  It happens completely on its own when a human being questions, wonders, listens, and...

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