Friday, November 30, 2012

On living mindfully Greet the new day with a smile and mindfulness

On living mindfully
Greet the new day with a smile
 and mindfulness 

When waking up to a new day, we should realise how lucky we are to have today. Many of our fellow beings went to sleep last night and never woke up again. Yesterday was their last day on earth. We, too, might have left the world like them, had it not been for a variety of factors that make us live today.
We should, therefore, greet the new day as a precious gift. Greet it with a smile. Don't allow the mind to be sad or depressed. Don't demand anything from the world. And don't let the mind worry about things that have not yet come, nor be frustrated with what you have not attained. Don't forget that we are already very fortunate to have today.
Since death can befall us anytime, every morning when we wake up we should realise that today might be our last day. When awake, we should have the intention to make today valuable, by filling it with good conduct, benefit for the common good and generosity to others.
We should be in hurry to do things that are important or meaningful to life. Don't put it off, or let less important things such as fun, entertainment or socialising steal most of your time until you do not have the opportunity to do such worthy things as giving back to people to whom you owe gratitude, taking time for your family members and making time to develop your own spirituality.
Making the best of today also means not allowing negative emotions and desires to dominate your mind until it is full of suffering and desolation. Since we cannot be certain that we will live until tomorrow, we should live today with happiness and cheerfulness. Do whatever is good for life, and invite positive feelings to fill your heart. Don't be fixated with the past, or weigh yourself down with worries about the future. Be firm in staying in the present moment as best you can. And open your heart to the realities that unfold each and every moment with a mind that is fully alert and awake. It is only the present moment that is real.
Nowadays, we live one-third of our lives in a state of sleep. Even when awake, more than one-third of the day might be lived in delusion. We then do not really live. We only walk-sleep. This is a waste of time. Isn't it better if we live each day, each hour and each minute with mindfulness? It is through mindfulness that you can live your life to its full value. This is how to live with your full heart.
Begin a new day by immediately being alert to mindfulness after you wake. It may still be dark outside, the sun may not have risen above the horizon, but our mind will be radiant with an alert mind. Mindfulness will drive away lethargy and replace it with clarity, enabling us to do our morning chores with alertness.
Throughout the day, we should constantly observe our mind and do our activities mindfully. Be aware of the proliferation of thoughts and emotions. If so, our whole day will be light and full of bliss. We can generate beneficial actions without slipping or getting discouraged. We can pursue our priorities without postponement or absent-mindedness.
The whole day can be blissful even when we are surrounded by confusion. That is if only we smile at reality, live mindfully, are fully awake to each and every moment and are constantly aware of the uncertainties of life.

Best way from

Friday, November 16, 2012

Truth And Beauty

Truth And Beauty
By M. K. Gandhi

Inwardness of Art
THERE ARE two aspects of things--the outward and the inward…. The outward has to meaning except in so far as it helps the inward. All true Art is thus an expression of the soul. The outward forms have value only in so far as they are the expression of the inner spirit of man.
I know that many call themselves artists, and are recognized as such, and yet in their works there is absolutely no trace of the soul's upward urge and unrest.
All true Art must help the soul to realize its inner self. In my own case, I find that I can do entirely without external forms in my soul's realization. I can claim, therefore, that there is truly efficient Art in my life, though you might not see what you call works of Art about me.
My room may have blank walls; and I may even dispense with the roof, so that I may gaze out at the starry heavens overhead that stretch in an unending expanse. What conscious Art of man can give me the panoramic scenes that open out before me, when I look up to the sky above with all its shining stars?
This, however, does not mean that I refuse to accept the value of productions of Art, generally accepted as such, but only that I personally feel how inadequate these are compared with the eternal symbols of beauty in Nature. These productions of man's Art have their value only in so far as they help the soul onward towards self-realization.

Truth First
Truth is the first thing to be sought for, and Beauty and Goodness will then be added unto you. Jesus was, to my mind, a supreme artist because he saw and expressed Truth; and so was Muhammad, the Koran being, the most perfect composition in all Arabic literature--at any rate, that is what scholars say. It is because both of them strove first for Truth that the grace of expression naturally came in and yet neither Jesus not Muhammad wrote on Art. That is the Truth and Beauty I crave for, live for, and would die for.

Art for the Millions
Here too, just as elsewhere, I must think in terms of the millions. And to the millions we cannot give that training to acquire a perception of Beauty in such a way as to see Truth in it. Show them Truth first and they will see Beauty afterwards… Whatever can be useful to those starving millions in beautiful to my mind. Let us give today first the vital things of life and all the graces and ornaments of life will follow.I want art and literature that can speak to the millions.

Art to be art must soothe
After all, Art can only be expressed not through inanimate power-driven machinery designed for mass-production, but only through the delicate living touch of the hands of men and women.

Inner Purity
True art takes note not merely of form but also of what lies behind. There is an art that kills and an art that gives life… True art must be evidence of happiness, contentment and purity of its authors.
True beauty after all consists in purity of heart.
I love music and all the other arts, but I do not attach such value to them as is generally done. I cannot, for example, recognize the value of those activities that require technical knowledge for their understanding.
Life is greater than all art. I would go even further and declare that the man whose life comes nearest to perfection is the greatest artist; for what is art without the sure foundation and framework of a noble life?
We have somehow accustomed ourselves to the belief that art is independent of the purity of private life. I can say with all the experience at my command that nothing could be more untrue. As I am nearing the end of my earthly life, I can say that purity of life, is the highest and truest art. The art of producing good music from a cultivated voice can be achieved by many, but the art of producing that music from the harmony of a pure life is achieved very rarely.

Beauty in Truth
I see and find Beauty in Truth or through Truth. All Truths, not merely true ideas, but truthful faces, truthful pictures or songs are highly beautiful. People generally fail to see Beauty in Truth, the ordinary man runs away from it and becomes blind to the beauty in it. Whenever men begin to see Beauty in Truth, then true Art will arise.
To a true artist only that face is beautiful which, quite apart from its exterior, shines with the Truth within the soul. There is… no Beauty apart from Truth. On the other hand, Truth may manifest itself in forms, which may not be outwardly beautiful at all. Socrates, we are told, was the most truthful man of his time, and yet his features are said to have been the ugliest in Greece. To my mind he was beautiful, because all his life was a striving after Truth, and you may remember that his outward form did not prevent Phidias from appreciating the beauty of Truth in him, though as an artist he was accustomed to see Beauty in outward forms also.
Truth and Untruth often co-exist; good and evil are often found together. In an artist also not seldom [do] the right perception of things and the wrong co-exist. Truly beautiful creations come when right perception is at work. If these monuments are rare in life, they are also rare in Art.
These beauties ['a sunset or a crescent moon that shines amid the stars at night'] are truthful, inasmuch as they make me think of the Creator at the back of them. How else could these be beautiful, but for the Truth that is in the center of creation? When I admire the wonder of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in worship of the Creator. I try to see Him and His mercies in all these creations. But even the sunsets and sunrises would be mere hindrances if they did not help me to think of the soul is a delusion and a snare; even like the body, which often does hinder you in the path of salvation.
Why can't you see the beauty of colour in vegetables? And then, there is beauty in the speckless sky. But no, you want the colours of the rainbow, which is a mere optical illusion. We have been taught to believe that what is beautiful need not be useful and what is useful cannot be beautiful. I want to show that what is useful can also be beautiful.

The best way from

Monday, November 12, 2012

The best way to know yourself.

The best way to know yourself.


by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu 

(adapted and translated by Santikaro Bhikkhu) 

Sit up straight (with all the vertebrae of the spine fitting together snugly). Keep your head upright. Direct your eyes towards the tip of your nose so that nothing else is seen. Whether you see it or not doesn't really matter, just gaze in its direction. Once you get used to it, the results will be better than closing the eyes, and you won't be encouraged to fall asleep so easily. In particular, people who are sleepy should practice with their eyes open rather than closed. Practice like this steadily and they will close by themselves when the time comes for them to close. (If you want to practice with your eyes closed from the start, that's up to you.) Still, the method of keeping the eyes open gives better results. Some people, however, will feel that it's too difficult, especially those who are attached to closing their eyes. They won't be able to practice with their eyes open, and may close them if they wish.

Lay the hands in your lap, comfortably, one on top of the other. Overlap or cross your legs in a way that distributes and holds your weight well, so that you can sit comfortably and will not fall over easily. The legs can be overlapped in an ordinary way or crossed, whichever you prefer or are able to do. Fat people can only cross their legs in what is called the "diamond posture" (lotus posture) with difficulty, but fancy postures are not necessary. Merely sit with the legs folded so that your weight is evenly balanced and you cannot tip over easily -- that's good enough. The more difficult and serious postures can be left for when one gets serious, like a yogi.

In special circumstances -- when you are sick, not feeling well, or just tired -- you can rest against something, sit on a chair, or use a deck chair, in order to recline a bit. Those who are sick can even lie down to meditate.

Sit in a place with good air circulation, where you can breathe comfortably. There should be nothing overly disturbing. Loud noises which are steady and have no meaning, such as the sound of waves or a factory, are no problem unless you attach to them as a problem. Sounds with meaning, such as people speaking, are more of a problem for those just learning to practice. If you can't find a quiet place, pretend there aren't any sounds. Just be determined to practice and it will work out eventually.
Although the eyes are gazing inattentively at the tip of the nose, you can gather your attention or awareness or sati(1), as it's called in our technical language, in order to catch and note your own breathing in and out. (Those who like to close their eyes will do so from here on.) Those who prefer to leave the eyes open will do so continually until the eyes gradually close on their own as concentration and calmness (samadhi) increases.
In the beginning (and only at the beginning, for a few minutes, not forever!), to make it easy to note the breathing, try to breathe as long as you can. Force it in and out strongly many times. Do so in order to know clearly for yourself what the breath rubs against or touches as it draws in and out along its path. In a simple way, notice where it appears to end in the belly (by taking the physical sensations as one's measure rather than anatomical reality). Note this in an easy-going way as well as you can, well enough to fix the inner and outer end points of the breathing. Don't be tense or too strict about it.
Most people will feel the breath striking at the tip of the nose and should take that point as the outer end. (In people with flat or upturned noses the breath will strike on the edge of the upper lip, and they should take that as the external end.) Now you will have both outer and inner end points by fixing one point at the tip of the nose and the other at the navel. The breath will drag itself back and forth between these two points. Here make your mind just like something which chases after or stalks the breathing, like a tiger or a spy, unwilling to part with it even for a moment, following every breath for as long as you meditate. This is the first step of our practice. We call it "chasing after (or stalking) the whole time."
Earlier we said to begin by trying to make the breathing as long as possible, and as strong, vigorous, and rough as possible, many times from the very start. Do so in order to find the end points and the track the breath follows between them. Once the mind (or sati) can catch and fix the breathing in and out -- by constantly being aware of how the breath touches and flows, then where it ends, then how it turns back either inside or outside -- you can gradually relax the breathing until it becomes normal no longer forcing or pushing it in any way. Be careful: don't force or control it at all! Still, sati fixes on the breathing the whole time, just as it did earlier with the rough and strong breathing.
Sati is able to pay attention to the entire path of the breath from the inner end point (the navel or the base of the abdomen) to the outer end point (the tip of the nose or the upper lip). However fine or soft the breath becomes, sati can clearly note it all the time. If it happens that we cannot note (or feel) the breath because it is too soft or refined, then breathe more strongly or roughly again. (But not as strong or rough as before, just enough to note the breath clearly). Fix attention on the breathing again, until sati is aware of it without any gaps. Make sure it can be done well, that is, keep practicing until even the purely ordinary, unforced breathing can be securely observed. However long or short it is, know it. However heavy or light it is, know it. Know it clearly within that very awareness as sati merely holds closely to and follows the breathing back and forth the whole time you are meditating (2). When you can do this it means success in the level of preparation called "chasing after all the time."
Lack of success is due to the inability of sati (or the attention) to stay with the breathing the whole time. You don't know when it lost track. You don't know when it ran off to home, work, or play. You don't know until it's already gone. And you don't know when it went, how, why, or whatever. Once you are aware of what happened, catch the breathing again, gently bring it back to the breathing, and train until successful on this level. Do it for at least ten minutes each session, before going on to the next step.
The next step, the second level of preparation, is called "waiting (or guarding) in ambush at one point." It's best to practice this second step only after the first step can be done well, but anyone who can skip straight to the second won't be scolded. At this stage, sati (or recollection) lies in wait fixing at a particular point and stops chasing after the breathing. Note the sensation when the breathing enters the body all the way (to the navel or thereabouts) once, then let go or release it. Next, note when the breathing contacts the other end point (the tip of the nose) once more, then let go or leave it alone until it contacts the inner end point (navel) again. Continue like this without changing anything. In moments of letting go, the mind doesn't run away to home, the fields, the office, or anywhere. This means that sati pays attention at the two end points -- both inner and outer -- and doesn't pay attention to anything between them.
When you can securely go back and forth between the two end points without paying attention to things in between, leave out the inner end point and focus only on the outer, namely, the tip of the nose. Now, sati consistently watches only at the tip of the nose. Whether the breathing strikes while inhaling or while exhaling, know it every time. This is called "guarding the gate." There's a feeling as the breathing passes in or out; the rest of the way is left void or quiet. If you have firm awareness at the nose tip, the breathing becomes increasingly calm and quiet. Thus you can't feel movements other than at the nose tip. In the spaces when it's empty or quiet, when you can't feel anything, the mind doesn't run away to home or elsewhere. The ability to do this well is success in the "waiting in ambush at one point" level of preparation.
Lack of success is when the mind runs away without you knowing. It doesn't return to the gate as it should or, after entering the gate, it sneaks all the way inside. Both of these errors happen because the period of emptiness or quiet is incorrect and incomplete. You have not done it properly since the start of this step. Therefore, you ought to practice carefully, solidly, expertly from the very first step.
Even the beginning step, the one called "chasing after the whole time," is not easy for everyone. Yet when one can do it, the results -- both physical and mental -- are beyond expectations. So you ought to make yourself able to do it, and do it consistently, until it is a game like the sports you like to play. If you have even two minutes, by all means practice. Breathe forcefully, if your bones crack or rattle that's even better. Breathe strongly until it whistles, a little noise won't hurt. Then relax and lighten it gradually until it finds its natural level.
The ordinary breathing of most people is not natural or normal, but is coarser or lower than normal, without us being aware. (3) Especially when we do certain activities or are in positions which are restricted, our breathing is more or less course than it ought to be, although we don't know it. So you ought to start with strong, vigorous breathing first, then let it relax until it becomes natural. In this way, you'll end up with breathing which is the "middle way" or just right. Such breathing makes the body natural, normal, and healthy. And it is fit for use as the object of meditation at the beginning of anapanasati (4). Let us stress once more that this first step of preparation ought to be practiced until it's just a natural game for every one of us, and in all circumstances. This will bring numerous physical and mental benefits.
Actually, the difference between "chasing after the whole time" and "waiting in ambush at one place" is not so great. The latter is a little more relaxed and subtle, that is, the area noted by sati decreases. To make this easier to understand, we'll use the simile of the baby sitter rocking the baby's hammock.(5) At first, when the child has just been put into the hammock, it isn't sleepy yet and will try to get out. At this stage, the baby sitter must watch the hammock carefully. As it swings from side to side, her head must turn from left to right so that the child won't be out of sight for a moment. Once the baby begins to get sleepy and doesn't try to get out anymore, the baby sitter need not turn her head from left to right, back and forth, as the hammock swings. The baby sitter only watches when the hammock passes in front of her face, which is good enough. Watching only at one point while the hammock is in front of her face, the baby won't have a chance to get out of the hammock just the same, because the child is ready to fall sleep. (Although the baby will fall asleep, the meditator should not!)
The first stage of preparation in noting the breathing -- "chasing after the whole time" -- is like when the baby sitter must turn her head from side to side with the swinging hammock so that it isn't out of sight for a moment. The second stage where the breathing is noted at the nose tip -- "waiting and watching at one point" -- is like when the baby is ready to sleep and the baby sitter watches the hammock only when it passes her face.
When you have practiced and trained fully in the second step, you can train further by making the area noted by sati even more subtle and gentle until there is secure, stable concentration. Then concentration can be deepened step by step until attaining one of the jhanas (6), which, for most people, is beyond the rather easy concentration of the first steps. The jhanas are a refined and precise subject with strict requirements and subtle principles. One must be strongly interested and committed for that level of practice. At this stage, just be constantly interested in the basic steps until they become familiar and ordinary. Then you might be able gather in the higher levels later.
May ordinary lay people give themselves the chance to meditate in a way which has many benefits both physically and mentally, and which satisfies the basic needs of our practice, before going on to more difficult things. May you train with these first steps in order to be fully equipped with sila (morality), samadhi (concentration), and pañña (wisdom), that is, to be fully grounded in the noble eightfold path. Even if only a start, this is better than not going anywhere. Your body will become more healthy and peaceful than usual by training in successively higher levels of samadhi. You will discover something that everyone should find in order to not waste the opportunity of having been born.


1. Sati is a key term in Buddhist meditation. It means "recall, recollection, awareness, attention, mindfulness." All of these concern the present and do not involve memory or thought. In this article, the activity of sati is conveyed through a number of verbs: to fix, to note, to attend, to pay attention, to be aware, to experience. (Sati does not mean "to concentrate or focus.") Please study these various words and their meaning in each context, then you will have a correct understanding of sati, namely, what it is and how to use it to get free of dukkha.
2. Don't try to push other things out of awareness, that will create tension. Just keep your attention centered on the breathing in a balanced way. Let go of anything that takes you away from the breathing.
3. In fact, our breathing tends to be unhealthy, which contributes to many physical and mental problems. Please learn to breathe freely and naturally.
4. "Anapanasati" is the Pali term for the practice of mindfulness with breathing (the very subject of this essay).
5. In India and Thailand small hammocks are used instead of cradles.
6. The jhanas are states of one-pointedness which result from highly developed concentration which is turned inward. In them one is only aware of a particular object and certain mental factors.
For more instruction on anapanasati, please see:
The Anapanasati FAQ on this site.
Mindfulness With Breathing: Unveiling the Secrets of Life (published by Wisdom Publications).
Retreat talks Tan Ajarn gave at Suan Mokkh (being edited).
First electronic edition: September 1996
Transcribed directly from disks provided by Santikaro Bhikkhu.
Formatting & Proofreading: Scott Oser <>.
Later reformatted by Santikaro Bhikkhu.
This electronic edition is offered FOR FREE DISTRIBUTION ONLY. 

Updated 04 November 2002 © Evolution/Liberation 
best way from

Monday, November 5, 2012

Learning to Listen

Learning to Listen

By Ajahn Chah

During an informal gathering at his residence one evening, the Master said, ''When you listen to the Dhamma, you must open up your heart and compose yourself in its centre. Don't try and accumulate what you hear, or make painstaking efforts to retain it through your memory. Just let the Dhamma flow into your heart as it reveals itself, and keep yourself continuously open to the flow in the present moment. What is ready to be retained will remain. It will happen of its own accord, not through forced effort on your part.
Similarly, when you expound the Dhamma, there must be no force involved. The Dhamma must flow spontaneously from the present moment according to circumstances. You know, it's strange, but sometimes people come to me and really show no apparent desire to hear the Dhamma, but there it is - it just happens. The Dhamma comes flowing out with no effort whatsoever. Then at other times, people seem to be quite keen to listen. They even formally ask for a discourse, and then, nothing! It just won't happen. What can you do? I don't know why it is, but I know that things happen in this way. It's as though people have different levels of receptivity, and when you are there at the same level, things just happen.
If you must expound the Dhamma, the best way is not to think about it at all. Simply forget it. The more you think and try to plan, the worse it will be. This is hard to do, though, isn't it? Sometimes, when you're flowing along quite smoothly, there will be a pause, and someone may ask a question. Then, suddenly, there's a whole new direction. There seems to be an unlimited source that you can never exhaust.
I believe without a doubt in the Buddha's ability to know the temperaments and receptivity of other beings. He used this very same method of spontaneous teaching. It's not that he needed to use any superhuman power, but rather that he was sensitive to the needs of the people around him and so taught to them accordingly. An instance demonstrating his own spontaneity occurred when once, after he had expounded the Dhamma to a group of his disciples, he asked them if they had ever heard this teaching before. They replied that they had not. He then went on to say that he himself had also never heard it before.
Just continue your practice no matter what you are doing. Practice is not dependent on any one posture, such as sitting or walking. Rather, it is a continuous awareness of the flow of your own consciousness and feelings. No matter what is happening, just compose yourself and always be mindfully aware of that flow.''
Later, the Master went on to say, ''Practice is not moving forward, but there is forward movement. At the same time, it is not moving back, but there is backward movement. And, finally, practice is not stopping and being still, but there is stopping and being still. So there is moving forward and backward as well as being still, but you can't say that it is any one of the three. Then practice eventually comes to a point where there is neither forward nor backward movement, nor any being still. Where is that?''
On another informal occasion, he said, ''To define Buddhism without a lot of words and phrases, we can simply say, 'Don't cling or hold on to anything. Harmonize with actuality, with things just as they are.''' 

 The best way from