I Want To Be… Peaceful
by James Ishmael Ford

Perhaps you’re stressed. No doubt this is the age of stress. Fortunately, there are many things you can do about it. Among them, a number of styles of meditation will help to slow things down, give you a bit of space, a moment of calm in the storm. There sure seem to be a lot of storms that need calming. So it’s natural that many are turning to meditation as a significant help toward mental and physical well-being.

Of course that’s not the only reason people turn to meditation. Nor is it even the most important. Perhaps you’ve experienced some spiritual question. Maybe you have a sense there’s something missing in your life. Perhaps you’ve noticed that whether things are going well or badly there always seems to be a hole. This longing for some sense of wholeness is what brings many to meditation.

Or maybe you’re thinking that things are possibly not the way everyone seems to think they are. You’ve noticed discrepancies between what you’ve been told and what you actually see and hear and experience. And, with that, perhaps you have an intuition that meditation of one sort or another might point you toward a deeper, more accurate take on what really is.

What is interesting is how meditation can be so important for us, whether we’re looking to enhance our well-being, hoping to get a bit of a better handle on our lives, or throwing our lot into the great exploration of this life’s meaning and purpose.

Whatever the reason we take up meditation, what I’ve found is that when we stop and look, step away from our assumptions just for a moment, and take up the spiritual discipline of practice, things do happen. It can be shocking to discover how much is in our hands. William James observed, “Each of us literally chooses, by his way of attending to things, what sort of universe he shall appear to himself to inhabit.” Synergies begin when we bring our attention to the ways of the world, and the ways of our hearts. We discover new territory and new possibility. An old and dear friend summarised this, observing how the cultivation of a “peaceful mind can blossom into a profound mind.”

Of course, there are many kinds of meditation, one or another for every purpose under the sun. Personally, I’m a bit of a minimalist. And so whatever your reason for considering meditation, maybe someone interested in minimums might be helpful to you.

Here’s what I have to offer: I find the practice of sitting down, shutting up, and paying attention is the most useful path to a more healthy life. It will help us find peace and sometimes open us up to ever deeper possibilities.

Sit down. Shut up. Pay attention. These are the points that allow the synergies to happen. As the modern Chinese master Sheng Yen said, “As the mind becomes clearer, it becomes more empty and calm, and as it becomes more empty and calm, it grows clearer.” This is the spiral path of clarity. The more deeply we engage it, the deeper we become. It is here we find that peaceful mind. With this we find the place is set where we can find a profound mind, opening ourselves to a path of wisdom in a world of confusion.


When I first began Buddhist meditation I met a woman who was a longtime student of Zen, and who was considered to have achieved deep insight. What is important to note here is that she was a quadriplegic; since her accident she’d never “sat” in any traditional way. Whenever I talk with people about sitting, I remember her. In fact the Buddha told us there are four postures suitable to meditation: standing, walking, lying down and sitting down. They all work. They all have a place.

That said, for most of us it seems best to begin the practice by sitting down. Taking our place this way establishes our intention and allows us to focus on the basics of the practice.

When someone says something like, “I don’t need to sit, my spiritual practice is golf” (or knitting, or archery, or target shooting), I think they might well be missing something. Now, I have nothing against golf, or any of these activities. While each of them brings gifts, true meditation — at least the meditation disciplines associated with Buddhism — bring us to something more important. And we start by taking our place, by sitting down.

Just sit. If you can hold your body upright it is better. You can sit on the floor on a pillow or on a chair. Whichever you chose, it helps to have your bottom a bit higher than your knees. This establishes a triangular base that supports your torso. Pushing the small of the back slightly forward and holding the shoulders slightly back helps create that upright position. Sitting this way, you can immediately feel your lungs opening up and each breath invigorating your body.

Place your hands in your lap. In Zen, we like to sit with our eyes open. Many traditions prefer to close the eyes. Experiment a little. Find what seems to work best for you. Personally, I like to see where I’m going.


Maybe you’ve heard the story of the professor who visited the Zen master. The professor talks and talks and talks, until his throat is dry. Finally the master offers him some tea. The professor thanks the teacher, who then sets out two cups and begins to pour tea into the first cup, and pours and pours. The tea flows out of the cup and covers the table.

Most of the time when people hear this story they identify with the Zen master. We all know people like the professor, people who just don’t know when to shut up. But the truth is that we’re such people ourselves. That is you. That is me. It’s a human thing.

For the most part we are running a steady commentary on life. We’re judging, we’re refining, we’re planning, we’re regretting. We tend to run tape loops around anger or resentment, around desire and wanting, around how we think things are or are supposed to be. What if we did just shut up?

In Japanese monasteries, a novice monk would have his place in the meditation hall pointed out to him and he’d just go sit there. Shutting up in the external sense would be obvious to him because in old Japanese monasteries if you got out of hand you could catch a beating. But as for handling those loops of noise inside the head, well, almost nothing is said about that.

The invitation here is not to put a complete stop to our thoughts, whether they’re those old tape loops we run over and over, or more creative and possibly even useful thoughts. Truth is, stopping all thought is a biological impossibility. But we can slow it all down. We can stop our thoughts and feelings from grabbing us by the throat.

Shutting up is the invitation.

Just be quiet.


But pay attention to what? Our minds can wander, and wildly. We plan and we regret; we wish for something else. We rarely are simply present. So, how to deal with it?

Here’s a start. Take five breath cycles, putting a number on each inhalation and exhalation, counting one as you inhale, two as you exhale and so on to ten. The invitation here is to notice. When you don’t notice — and realise you don’t notice — return to one. Don’t blame yourself. Just return to one. Don’t blame something else. Return to one. Just notice. Just pay attention.

Or you allow your attention to ride on the natural breathing without counting.

Or you can just pay attention.

Many years ago there was an American who made his fortune doing business in East Asia. Financially comfortable, he decided to retire and to enjoy the fruits of his labours. Along the way he’d become fascinated with jade, and decided to learn all there was to know about it.

He hired the foremost authority on the subject, who instructed him to come to her home once a week for a tutorial. As he arrived on the first day, he was greeted and given some tea. Then the man was handed a large piece of jade, and with that, the tutor disappeared for an hour. When the tutor returned she claimed the jade, thanked the patron for his time, and told him his next appointment was scheduled for the same time the following week. The man wasn’t sure what to make of this experience, but he’d learned patience in his years in business, and deferred for the time being to the reputation of his tutor.

Sure enough, the same thing happened again the next week. This time the patron was less willing to defer, but he restrained himself, and came back for a third time. And then a fourth time. Each visit repeated itself exactly: some tea, some small talk, the piece of jade was put into his hand, and the tutor left for an hour.

Finally, after many weeks, he was once again handed the jade and the tutor departed. At the end of that hour he couldn’t contain himself any longer. Everything that had been boiling within him burst forth when the tutor returned. “I have no idea what you think you’re doing! But I’m no fool. You’ve just been wasting my time and my money. And now, to add insult to injury, this time you put a piece of fake jade into my hand.” And he was right — it was fake.

Just pay attention.

Perhaps you’re stressed. Perhaps you have some burning question about life and death. Perhaps you intuit there is something more to all this than you’ve been told.

Sit down. Shut up. Pay attention.

You never know when it will reveal what is true and what is fake.

Lotus 170.


Our activities are like children’s games: They go on as long as we continue, they stop as soon as we stop them.

— Longchenpa






世亲菩萨是唯识宗祖师,他写有一部《往生论》, 解释这个净土的教义。《往生论》说:“此三种成就愿心庄严,略说入一法句故;一法句者,谓清净句;清净句者,谓真实智慧无为法身故。”什么叫清净句?就是佛号。我们能够念一声佛号,就形成极乐世界的三种庄严:佛庄严具八种功德;菩萨庄严具四种功德;国土庄严具十七种功德。这个功能就这么大。心力强过一切,这就是一切唯心的道理。

正确的思想指导正确的行动, 有正确的行动就有正确的结果。尽管物质决定意识,但是意识的反作用那个力量强大,可以改造自己,可以改造世界。所以念佛功德相当大!以清净句形成庄严。我们的祖师讲:若人但念阿弥陀,是名无上深妙禅。念佛就是参禅,为什么这样讲呀?参禅就是恢复你的那个清净心,恢复佛心。佛心就是清净心、广大心、正直心、平等心、慈悲心。念一句佛号消除贪嗔痴,修慈悲观这就恢复了佛心。

所以念佛之人, 必须懂唯识的道理, 这是佛法的根本思想, 学习唯识对于念佛, 有着最现实的指导意义。这样,念佛就不是盲念、瞎念,念一句就有一句的功德,否则如果你心不到,哪怕你一天到晚念得再多,念得唇疲舌焦,也起不到多大作用。因为佛法是改造心灵的,三界唯心,万法唯识。心能创造一切,心又能认识一切,就像一个工程师一样,绘了蓝图,根据蓝图修造房子,修造了以后又要凭“心”来认识它合不合标准,这就是三界唯心、万法唯识的道理。也就是《华严经》讲的“心如工画师, 能画诸世间。五蕴悉从生,无法而不造”这个意趣。


人生佛教是太虚大师提出来的。太虚大师是倡导唯识学的。那时我在缙云山读书,他给我们讲过唯识学,也讲过人生佛教。要改造心灵,走上佛的道路,必须把人做好。他有两首诗,一首就是:“仰止唯佛陀,完成在人格。人成即佛成,是名真现实。”你要想成佛吗,先把人做好,人做好就可以成佛,这是基础。还有一首诗讲:“如果发愿学佛,先须立志做人。三皈四维淑世,八德十善严身。”这个就比较具体了,怎样学佛呀? 怎样做人呀? 做人的标准,三皈,要皈依三宝;四维,要懂得礼义廉耻;八德就是孝、悌、忠、信、礼、义、廉、耻; 十善就是身三“ 不杀、不盗、不邪淫”,口四“不妄语、不粗恶语、不离间语、不绮语” , 意三“不贪、不嗔、不痴”。




Those who, when hearing about emptiness, are inspired with great joy again and again, so that their eyes moisten with tears, and the hairs on their body stand on end, possess the potential for complete awakening. They are the proper vessels for these teachings, to them one should teach the ultimate truth.

— Chandrakirti

How to Let Go
by Lama Thubten Yeshe

Good morning all of you. The director of Vajra Yogini institute has asked me to speak about the integration of emptiness into everyday life.

What is emptiness? Emptiness (shunyata) is the reality of the existence of ourselves and all the phenomena around us. According to the Buddhist point of view, seeking reality and seeking liberation amount to the same thing. The person who doesn’t want to seek reality doesn’t really want to seek liberation, and is just confused.

If you seek reality and you think that it has to be shown to you by a Tibetan Lama, that you have to look for it outside yourself, in another place — maybe in Shangrila! — then you are mistaken. You cannot seek reality outside yourself because you are reality.

Perhaps you think that your life, your reality was made by society, by your friends. If you think that way you are far from reality. If you think that your existence, your life was made by somebody else it means that you are not taking the responsibility to understand reality.

You have to see that your attitudes, your view of the world, of your experiences, of your girlfriend or boyfriend, of your own self, are all the interpretation of your own mind, your own imagination. They are your own projection, your mind literally made them up. If you don’t understand this then you have very little chance of understanding emptiness.

This is not just the Buddhist view but also the experience of Western physicists and philosophers — they have researched into reality too. Physicists look and look and they simply cannot find one entity that exists in a permanent, stable way: this is the Western experience of emptiness.

If you can imagine that then you will not have any concrete concepts; if you understand this experience of physicists then you will let go of your worldly problems — but you don’t want to understand.

At the energy level there is space and there is body, and both have the same four elements. There is an interdependence between these two energies, the one around us and our own energy.

You check up, analyse: your skin, your bones, your nose, face are only energy, no more. If you try to separate them from energy then nothing will be left of your skin, your bones, your nose, your face. Everything is simply energy. If you understand the energy level of existence, if you really understand who you are, what you are in this way then you will break down your concepts, your uptightness, you will break down the preconceptions you have of your own self-existence. But no way! You are always uptight and that is why you have problems.

It seems to me that we twentieth century people are against nature, against reality, the very opposite of reality. Each moment we build up our artificial, polluted ego; we cover ourselves with heavy ego blankets — one, two, ten, one hundred blankets against nature, against reality.

In industrialised countries we disturb nature, we don’t appreciate the value of nature. Nature has its own value but we shake nature, we completely change it, we don’t respect the harmony of nature. We destroy this harmony because we don’t communicate with nature.

Modern life the product of the intellectual mind, and we create it. The intellectual mind is superstition. We don’t understand reality, and the intellectual life that we live keeps us far from reality.

So we don’t accept what we are. We are always looking to cover ourselves with thick blankets and say ‘this is me.’ We hide our own reality and run away from natural beauty, completely neglecting it. By not touching our reality our modern life becomes so complicated and we create problems with our superstitions. We are like a spider spinning his web, climbing on his thread then falling down; climbing up again and falling down again. In the same way we build our own intellectual web, a way of life, that is so complicated, that doesn’t touch reality, that is so difficult to live in. This construction arises from our own mind and does not arise from anything else.

If I told you are nothing, you are zero, that you are nothing that you think you are, then you would be shocked. ‘What is this monk saying?’ But what if I say that it is the truth! In fact you are non duality, non self-existence. You do not exist, relatively or absolutely, as you think you do. If you really understood this then you would really gain satisfaction and peace. But as long as you hold on to the fantasy, concrete conception of yourself and project this wrong conception onto your environment, then no way will you understand reality!

In Western cities nowadays, you can see, the older you are the more problems you have. When we are young, not so many problems, but then there are drugs and sex, and eventually they become dissatisfying. Then marriage is dissatisfying, then more depression, more depression. You can see, this technical society produces more depressed people than the countryside does. Countryside people live more naturally.

So as your body becomes bigger and your brain becomes wider, you have more and more problems and become more and more depressed. The more money you have the more problems come. You can see this. It shows we are deluded, polluted, degenerated, that our life is too intellectual, too covered by wrong conceptions.

You only take care of your body, you never take care of your mind, and the result of this imbalance is depression. For most Western people this is the case: only the body is reality and they don’t care about the existence of the mind, the soul, the consciousness. They don’t believe they can change their mind. They can change their nose through an operation but they don’t believe they change their mind. And when you believe this then no way can you resolve your depression.

I was really surprised to learn that there was a French philosopher before the coming of Jesus Christ on this earth who explained about the consciousness and the body. That the evolution of the mind was different from the evolution of the body and that our mind, consciousness is something that is everywhere, not just localised in the heart or the brain. This surprised me very much because it is very Buddhist. And you have forgotten this French philosopher’s declaration, haven’t you?

Our thoughts, our mind or consciousness is mental energy and cannot be localised in the body. It cannot be touched, it has no form and does not travel in time and space. We cannot touch it or grasp at it.

What is important to understand is that the view you have of yourself and the view you have of your environment are based on your own mind: they are a projection of your mind and that is why they are not reality.

I will give you a good example. When a French man or woman looks for a girl or boyfriend, there is this research energy from both sides and when suddenly they see each other they make up an incredible story. ‘Oh, so beautiful! Nothing wrong inside or outside.’ They build up a perfect myth. They push and push, the mind makes it all up. If they are Christian they say, ‘Oh, he looks just like Jesus.’ Or ‘She looks just like and angel. She is so nice, so pure. I wish always to hear her!’ Actually, they are just projecting their own fantasies onto each other.

If she is Hindu, then he would say, ‘Oh she looks like Kali, like Mother Earth, like my universal mother. I hope to always be near her. She will teach me who I am and where I am going. Each time I see her, my whole body shakes. I am sure that it must be incredible karma! And because it is our karma I have to serve her, to accept!’ You understand? Actually, you are making the karma at that moment, you are inventing it. Of course, you do have some connection, but….

And if you are Buddhist you fold your hands and say, ‘Oh, she is a dakini and she is showing me the true nature of all thing.’ You understand? ‘When I am near her she gives me energy, energy. Before, I was so lazy, I couldn’t move, I was like a dead person. But now whenever I go near her I can’t believe my energy!’ I tell you, all this is superstitious interpretation. You think that she is your spiritual friend and that before you were not so clear and that now she speaks to you about dharma and everything becomes clearer. And all she does is really perfect, even her kaka and pipi are so pure! Excuse me, perhaps i shouldn’t talk like this — I’m a Buddhist monk! But when we speak about Buddhism, about reality, then we have to speak practically from daily life, about what is earthy, what we can touch and see, not just get caught up in concepts.

What I mean is this: you should recognise how every appearance in our daily life is in fact a false projection of your own mind. Your own mind makes it up and becomes an obstacle to touching reality. This is why, our entire life, no matter what kind of life we have, it is a disaster. If you have a rich life, your life is a disaster. If you have a middle class life, your life is a disaster. Of you have a poor life, your life is even more of a disaster! You become a monk and your life is a disaster. You become a nun and your life is a disaster. If you become a Christian, your life is a disaster. If you become a Hindu, your life is a disaster. If you become a a Buddhist, your life is a disaster. If you become a Muslim, your life is also a disaster.

Be honest. Be honest with yourself!

Even if you go to a cave, disaster! You can stay in a mountain cave, in the snowy mountains, and still you carry your ego with you. You carry your entire world with you and all your fantasy clothing doesn’t help.

I’m not talking about religion here, I’m talking about personal things, who we are, what we are, where we are going, what we are doing! I am disaster, my mind is making it. Everything is always with me, always with me, my attitudes poison me. That is what I am talking about.

All this religion you follow… as long as you don’t touch reality in yourself, as long as you don’t eradicate your fantasies, you are a disaster. (Now I am disaster hot!)

In fact, reality is very simple. The simplicity of the mind can touch reality, and meditation is something that goes beyond the intellect and brings the mind into its natural state.

We have this pure nature already, this reality exists in us now, it is born with us. Of course, I’m not saying that having this pure nature means you are Buddha or God already: that is not what I’m saying.

There are two interpretations possible about this pure nature.

Our consciousness or our soul are conventionally not contaminated, not really, absolutely contaminated or polluted by our fantasy. And our consciousness can be compared to the sky that is temporarily covered by clouds: the pure nature of our mind can be temporarily covered by our fantasy-ego. Our fantasy-ego is like clouds, sometimes black, heavy; sometimes a little bit of white comes, sometime yellow clouds, sometimes red. Eventually, they all pass and disappear.

What I am saying is that the essence of your consciousness, your truth, your soul is not absolutely negative, it does not have an essentially negative character. Our mind is like the sky and our problems of ego grasping and self pity are like clouds. You should not believe ‘I am my ego, I am my problems, therefore I cannot solve my problems.’ WRONG!

You can see. Sometime we are so clear in our life, we are almost radiating. We can have this experience RIGHT NOW. NOW!

So it is wrong to think that we are always a disaster; not true. Sometimes we are clean-clear, sometimes we are disaster. So, stay in meditation, just keep in that clean-clear state as much as possible. All of us can have this clean-clear state of mind, we can have it.

I will give you an example. You will notice that most of the time when we first wake up our mind is clear. Why? Because we are not yet influenced by the artificial intellectual pollution of our thoughts. This is why we advise meditation in the morning. When you sleep, all your rubbish problems and disaster thinking just naturally go into an unconscious state, into clean-clear consciousness. Just naturally the senses close and there is no more grasping at sense objects. This is why sleep is sometimes very good, especially if you are restless and full of fantasy and garbage thoughts in the mind. It is a natural thing, sleep. The functioning of a human being is something so natural.

The tantric teachings of Tibetan Buddhism explain that at death time also you experience this reality. And it is complete bliss, it is the best experience of your life and the highest experience of reality. You have heard about this clear light? It is the highest experience of reality.

Why? Why is death the highest experience? Why is life not the highest experience? Because our life-mind is full of intellectualising, full of thinking, full of speculation, full of fantasies. But at the time of death fantasies naturally stop, the gross I naturally stops. Our nose and mouth and ears, our six consciousnesses, naturally stop. These consciousness, these busy fantasy resources are packed away into the soul, the clear light consciousness, and this becomes like our own nuclear energy that everything else has completely gone into. This is the natural, absolutely natural explanation of the human being.

With meditation we can change the inner flow of our energy, we can change bad times, that time, this time, we can release our emotions.

Actually, maybe this is the moment to meditate. My feeling is to meditate now. So close your eyes, don’t think ‘I am meditating,’ just close your eyes and whatever view is there, whatever vision is there in your mind just be aware. Don’t interpret good, bad. Just be like a light, your consciousness is like a light and light doesn’t think ‘I like this, I like that’; it is just a light. Whatever is in your consciousness, whatever experience, just be aware, that is all.

Whatever you experience at the moment, whatever colour, whatever appearance is there, just stay aware. Be aware. If it’s black energy, then that black energy is clean-clear. It it’s white energy, just feel that clean-clear state.

Be aware of whatever is happening. No interpretation. Especially if nothing is coming, believe that this is the truth, and if nothing is going, that is zero, that is truth, reality.

Don’t try to hold on to something or to reject something. Just have intensive awareness.

The entirety of you has the characteristic of space, of non-duality. This non-duality is your character. Your energy floats into the space of non-duality. The cosmos energy comes into your entire body and your body energy goes into the cosmos energy.

All your egotistic, individualistic views vanish, all interdependent relationships disappear. Try to actualise this experience.

Therefore Buddha said: there is no dualistic form, there is no dualistic sound, there is no dualistic smell, there is no dualistic taste, there is no dualistic touch, there is no dualistic view, there is no dualistic nose, tongue, there is no dualistic leg, no dualistic stomach, there is no dualistic bone, no dualistic heart, no dualistic brain. All this energy is conventional. At the absolute level there is only the non-dualistic reality.

So, try to touch this non-dualistic reality. LET GO!

There are no dualistic friends because there is no dualistic me. There is no dualistic enemy because there is no dualistic me. There is no dualistic girlfriend because there is no dualistic me. There is no dualistic boyfriend because there is no dualistic me.

Therefore, the mind is in an equal state of non-duality. It is an experience of equality, of harmony, a universal experience, because all individual objects are just projected by concepts and superstition.

Experience this total harmony, this total peace. In this state there is no more pleasure, no more suffering. Everything is simply a projection of the human mind.

So, now we dedicate with prayers: May all sentient beings discover that all the appearances of their ego are projections of their mind. Whatever self-existent thoughts, whatever concrete concepts of objects, whatever fears they have, may they discover them to be mental projections and also may the nature of the mind be recognised as non-dual.

Lama Yeshe 53.

The seat of everything is only the mind. It is the mind that leads you to the suffering of samsara or the joy of nirvana. And it is the mind that gives you every result that you hope for. It is like a jewel. I bow to this mind.

— Mahasiddha Saraha

文| 安小悦







但是,仔细的想一想当我们在抱怨之后,心里是不是就轻松了呢?心情是不是就快乐了呢?不,抱怨之后通常的情形是非但不轻松、不快乐,我们往往心情更糟,更不快乐。那抱怨如同一堆乌云一 般,更加沉重地压在我们的心上。



曾经有两个很出色的兄弟,一个少年喜欢弹琴,想成为一名音乐家;另一个少年爱好绘画,想成为一名美术家。然而,他们却突然遭遇了一场灾难。结果,想当音乐家的哥哥,再也无法听见任何声音; 想当美术家的弟弟,再也无法看到这个五彩缤纷的世界。两兄弟都非常伤心,难过,一边流泪一边怨恨命运的不公。他们的父亲就在他们的身边,他镇定地对哥哥用手语比划着说:“你的耳朵虽然坏了, 但是眼睛还是明亮的,为什么不改学绘画呢!”然后,他又对弟弟说:“你的眼睛尽管坏了,但是耳朵还是灵敏的,为什么不改学弹琴呢?”两兄弟听了,心里一亮。他们从此不再抱怨命运的不公,开始了新的追求。后来,耳聋的哥哥成了美术家,名扬四海;眼瞎的弟弟最终成为音乐家,饮誉天下。