the Buddha
(Gautama Siddhartha)

"Buddha" means "the awakened one"--that is, someone who has woken up from
the dream of being a separate ego in a material universe.  Gautama Siddhartha,
whom we affectionately, [mistakenly], call the Buddha, taught for forty-five years.
In all those years, and in the hundreds of thousands of teaching words that he
uttered, his message was simply this: "You are all Buddhas. 
There is nothing you need to achieve.  Just open your eyes."

Stephen Mitchell

 thinkers home


Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent
of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.

On life's journey faith is nourishment,
virtuous deeds are a shelter, wisdom is
the light by day and right mindfulness
is the protection by night. If one lives
a pure life, nothing can destroy him or her.
Those who are free of resentful thoughts surely find peace.

People should first direct themselves in the ways they should go.
Only then should they instruct others.

Those who experience the unity of life see their own
Selves in all beings, and all beings in their own Selves,
and look on everything with an impartial eye.

Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future,
concentrate the mind on the present moment.

However many holy words you read, However many you speak,
What good will they do you
If you do not act on upon them?
I do not believe in a fate that falls on people however they act;
but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act.

Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines,
but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes.

All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
If one speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows that person.
If one speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows that person,
like a shadow that never leaves him or her.


Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth,
faithfulness the best relationship.

A man walking along a highroad sees a great river, its near bank dangerous and frightening, its far bank safe.  He collects sticks and foliage, makes a raft, paddles across the river, and reaches the other shore.  Now suppose that, after he reaches the other shore, he takes the raft and puts it on his head and walks with it on his head wherever he goes.  Would he be using the raft in an appropriate way?  No; a reasonable man will realize that the raft has been very useful to him in crossing the river and arriving safely on the other shore, but that once he has arrived, it is proper to leave the raft behind and walk on without it.  This is using the raft appropriately.
   In the same way, all truths should be used to cross over; they should not be held on to once you have arrived.  You should let go of even the most profound insight or the most wholesome teaching; all the more so, unwholesome teachings.

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Be a lamp to yourself.  Be your own confidence. 
Hold to the truth within yourself, as to the only truth.


Through zeal, knowledge is gotten. 
Through lack of zeal, knowledge is lost.


We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts, we make the world.


All that we are is the result of what we have thought. 
The mind is everything.  What we think, we become.


   "Some people," said Buddha, the master,
"have accused me of uttering these words:
'When one attains the release called the Beautiful, and abides therein,
at such a time he or she considers the whole universe ugly.'
   "But I never said those words.  This is what I do say:
When one attains the release called the Beautiful,
at such a time he or she knows in truth what Beauty is."

Believe nothing, O monks, merely because you have been told it . . .
or because it is traditional, or because you yourself have imagined it.
Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher.
But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis,
you find to be conducive to the good, the benefit,
the welfare of all beings--that doctrine believe and cling to,
and take it as your guide.


To keep the body in good health is a duty, for otherwise we shall not
be able to trim the lamp of wisdom, and keep our minds strong and clear.
Water surrounds the lotus flower, but does not wet its petals.


Happy are they who have overcome their ego; happy are they who
have attained peace; happy are they who have found the Truth.


Those who recognize the existence of suffering, its cause, its remedy,
and its cessation, have fathomed the four noble truths.
They will walk in the right path.


Let a person overcome anger by kindness, evil by good. . . .

Victory breeds hatred, for the conquered is unhappy. . .

Never in the world does hatred cease by hatred; hatred ceases by love.


Have confidence in the truth, although you may not be able to comprehend it,
although you may suppose its sweetness to be bitter,
although you may shrink from it at first.  Trust in the Truth. . . .
Have faith in the Truth and live it.


The fault of others is easily perceived, but that of one's self is difficult to perceive; a man winnows his neighbor's faults like chaff, but his own fault he hides, as a cheat hides an unlucky cast of the die.

Anger will never disappear so long as thoughts of resentment are cherished in the mind. Anger will disappear just as soon as thoughts of resentment are forgotten.

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past,
nor to worry about the future, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.

There are two mistakes one can make along
the road to truth -- not going all the way, and not starting.


If you knew what I know about the power of giving,
you would not let a single meal pass
without sharing it in some way.

To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one's own in the midst of abundance.

You can search throughout the entire universe for someone
who is more deserving of your love and affection than
you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere.
You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe
deserve your love and affection.


In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west;
people create distinctions out of their own minds
and then believe them to be true.


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Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears
from good deeds, and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind.
To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light
of wisdom and the guidance of virtue.


Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today,
at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little,
at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick,
at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful.


Teach this triple truth to all:  A generous heart, kind speech,
and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.

The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.


There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt.
Doubt separates people.  It is a poison that disintegrates
friendships and breaks up pleasant relations.
It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.


Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.


Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.

We are formed and molded by our thoughts. Those whose minds are shaped by selfless thoughts give joy when they speak or act. Joy follows them like a shadow that never leaves them.


Once a person is caught by belief in a doctrine, one loses
all one's freedom. When one becomes dogmatic, that person
believes his or her doctrine is the only truth and that all other
doctrines are heresy.  Disputes and conflicts all arise from
narrow views. They can extend endlessly, wasting precious time
and sometimes even leading to war. Attachment to views is the
greatest impediment to the spiritual path. Bound to narrow
views, one becomes so entangled that it is no longer possible
to let the door of truth open.


In the search for truth there are certain questions that are not important.
Of what material is the universe constructed?  Is the universe eternal?
Are there limits or not to the universe?  What is the ideal form of organization
for human society?  If one were to postpone his or her search and practice
for Enlightenment until such questions were solved,
one would die before he or she found the path.


Everything is extraordinarily clear.  I see the whole landscape
before me, I see my hands, my feet, my toes, and I smell the rich
river mud.  I feel a sense of tremendous strangeness
and wonder at being alive.  Wonder of wonders.


As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are.
Otherwise you will miss most of your life.

Accounts of the Buddha's life normally begin with his birth as Siddhartha Gautama in 563 B.C. in northern India, and continue with accounts of his childhood, his marriage, his renunciation of his life as a prince in response to his awareness of life's suffering, his vision of a monk free of suffering, and his own desire for that freedom.  The central point of these accounts is always the experience known as his enlightenment--his experience, after many years of intense meditation practice as a monk, of deeply understanding the habits of mind that create suffering and, through that understanding, freeing his own mind of those habits forever.  The Buddha called his understanding Dharma (the truth, the meaning of things), and he taught it for forty years.  Over the centuries his message spread through Asia, became incorporated into the religious understanding and practices in many countries there, and served as the basis for the different forms of Buddhism that have continued to develop throughout the world.

Sylvia Boorstein


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