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Spiritual Love | Consciousness | Role of Mind | Illusion of Time | Ishwar Puri

Ishwar Puri Ji Maharaj explains why Love is the most important factor on Spiritual Path. Ishwar Ji describes that Mind creates time and space, karma, thoughts, past, present and future, illusion. Power of Will and experience of free will.

Sustainable Happiness: The Mind Science of Well-Being, Altruism, and Inspiration

By Joe Loizzo.
Foreword by Robert A. F. Thurman, and Daniel J. Siegel.

Today’s greatest health challenges, the so-called diseases of civilization—depression, trauma, obesity, cancer—are now known in large part to reflect our inability to tame stress reflexes gone wild and to empower instead the peaceful, healing and sociable part of our nature that adapts us to civilized life.

The same can be said of the economic challenges posed by the stress-reactive cycles of boom and bust, driven by addictive greed and compulsive panic. As current research opens up new horizons of stress-cessation, empathic intelligence, peak performance, and shared happiness, it has also encountered Asian methods of self-healing and interdependence more effective and teachable than any known in the West.

Sustainable Happiness
is the first book to make Asia’s most rigorous and complete system of contemplative living, hidden for centuries in Tibet, accessible to help us all on our shared journey towards sustainable wellbeing, altruism, inspiration and happiness.

Table of Contents

Thurman, foreword. Siegel, foreword.

Introduction: Recent Breakthroughs, Timeless Methods.

Part I: Turning the Body Wheel. Deep Mindfulness and Self-Healing. Self-Analysis, Insight, and Freedom. The Lifelong Path of Contemplative Health.

Part II: Turning the Speech Wheel. Clearing the Mind for Social Engagement. De-Deifying and Dismantling the Reactive Self. Altruism and the Path of Engagement.

Part III: Turning the Mind Wheel. Role-Modeling Imagery and Self-Transformation. The Art and Science of Reconstructing Life. Living Altruism Through Impassioned Vision.

Part IV: Turning the Bliss Wheel. Sublimation: Tapping and Channeling Flow. Inspiration: Turning Bliss to Light. Uniting Pure Inspiration with Perfect Clarity.

Endnotes. Bibliography and References. Glossary of Technical Terms.

Joe Loizzo, M.D., Ph.D. is a contemplative psychotherapist, stress researcher and meditation instructor who integrates Tibetan contemplative science with current breakthroughs in neuroscience and optimal health. After training in medicine and psychiatry at Harvard and completing a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies at Columbia, he founded Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science, a contemplative learning community that weaves timeless tools of self-healing and interdependence for today’s complex world.

On faculty at the Weill Cornell Center for Integrative Medicine and the Columbia University Center for Buddhist Studies, Dr. Loizzo lectures widely on the role of meditative learning in the future of healthcare, and teaches regular public classes and workshops at his Nalanda Institute, the New York Open Center and Tibet House US. He created the column, “The Science of Enlightenment” for Tricycle Magazine, and recently published “Nagarjuna’s Reason Sixty with Chandrakirti’s Commentary,” a translation study of contemplative self-healing in Buddhism. He is lead author of three articles in Longevity, Regeneration and Optimal Health, a special volume of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences published in 2009, based on a dialogue between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Western doctors. His latest book, “Sustainable Happiness: The Mind Science of Wellbeing, Altruism and Inspiration,” will be forthcoming from Routledge Press in April 2012.

See the author’s essays in two books: “Longevity, Regeneration & Optimal Health: Eastern and Western Perspectives” (Bushell, W., Olivo, E. & Theise, N. Eds., New York: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 2009) and “As Long as Space Endures: Essays on the Kalacakra Tantra in honor of His Holiness the Dalai Lama” (Arnold, E., Ed., Ithaca: Snow Lion Press, 2009).

Dr. Loizzo has a private psychotherapy practice in Manhattan, where he lives with his wife, Gerardine, and their sons Maitreya and Ananda.

A Buddhist Response to Global Warming ~ Ringu Tulku Rinpoche

‘Greed is also ignorance…We lose the overall view.
We almost stop thinking we are part of anything at all’

JS: Rinpoche, you have studied the world ecological crisis and seen Al Gore’s film. How does it make you feel as a Buddhist and a human being? How do you react to it?

RT: From the Buddhist point of view—and not just Buddhist point of view—nature does not pollute itself. If it is polluted, it is because people are polluting it. Obviously, we have polluted the air and the global environment which is why we have created the problem. I feel if we human beings have done something wrong to make it so bad, it is up to human beings to correct it, since it affects all sentient beings. This is the karma of the situation from the Buddhist point of view. Whatever kind of action we take, we will have to experience a corresponding kind of result. The climate issue is a very clear case of this. We can create a very bad, negative situation for ourselves or we can create a very pleasant situation for ourselves. Whether it is the planet, society, the local environment or relationships between people – this is how actions and reactions affect each other. The phenomenon comes precisely from our incorrect way of doing things, which is to say, without considering the effect of our actions. If we want to enjoy the world around us, for our lifetime and for future generations, we must do something to improve it.

There are predictions that the outcome will be or could be like this or like that, but there is nothing definite. There is just the indication, ‘if you act like this, then it could be like that. However, if you act like this, it can be better’. If people want to change their behaviour, the world can become better. Even in very negative dark ages, there could be periods of time that are positive and good. That has been predicted. Therefore, from the Buddhist point of view, how the world becomes depends on the people living there and how they act. If human society degenerates and the world becomes worse and worse, what is happening is that peoples’ negative emotions become very raw. They act, aggressively, greedily, negatively, violently. That is how the world becomes worse. War, famine, diseases, environmental catastrophe and diminishing lifespan develop from that. If our actions or reactions improve – we cease killing, lying, deceiving, and stealing from each other – from the Buddhist point of view, both the human and ecological situation will increasingly improve. The way we live our lives and the way we react to each other affects not just human beings, but our natural environment, the world we live in.

JS: So you are saying there is a psychic interdependence, on a collective level?

RT: Not only psychic, but behavioural. How we react psychologically is reflected in our behaviour. So what we do to each other affects the environment. For instance, if we are overly greedy, we take everything out of the earth, without any respect. We do not care for the land or the air. We ignore our pollution. If we react with hatred and just try to harm or destroy somebody or something, we devote great resources to manufacturing weaponry, and in the process we also destroy our own environment. Harming others is harming ourselves too.

JS: Or harming the future in this case.

RT: Yes, the future.

JS: The future others, and our future selves as well.

RT: That’s right. That is the Buddhist way of seeing.

JS: So you are saying it could go either way. It could reach some pitch, or some collective recognition, or not. And if not, it could come to a crisis point. Of course, we are already at a crisis point.

RT: That’s right. It can get worse if we do not put a stop to this way of acting and reacting. If we do change sufficiently, it could also reverse itself.

JS: It seems that greed is a key ‘poison’ being projected at this time. Powerful elites in society are not necessarily going to abandon greed. Change may now have to come ‘from the grassroots’.

RT: That is right. Greed is also based on ignorance. The assumption ‘if I have more, if I consume more, then it is better for me. It will bring happiness for me. Whoever has the most things is the better, happier person’ is based on fundamental misunderstanding.

JS: A misunderstanding assiduously cultivated by mass advertising.

RT: That is right.

JS: A system dedicated to generating greed contains the seeds of its own destruction, unless something really changes. On the scientific side, the de-glaciation of Greenland seems to be faster than they previously thought. It is potentially catastrophic for the world’s coastlines.

RT: I saw a BBC report that ships could now make the Northwest Passage, a short cut from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, north and west through the Canadian Arctic. The ice has melted so much that there is a waterway right through on the top of the world. Countries have already started to fight about who owns that ocean.

JS: Buddhism talks about ‘beginningless time’. If we look at the scientific history of the earth, it is 4½ billion years old. The biosphere, the living world is 3½ billion years old. The human species is less than a quarter of a million years old. So are we just referring to something ‘beginningless’ in terms of human consciousness?

RT: ‘Beginningless’ time is not based on one world system. It is based on countless universes throughout endless space. Space is limitless, so if there is this world system, there are also others. How many are there that our instruments can observe now? There could be different kinds of beings, worlds, limitless possibilities. It is not talking about this world. This world has a beginning, a middle, and an end. In Indian Buddhist cosmology, one great kalpa is divided into 80 small kalpas. It takes 20 kalpas for one world system to form, from nothingness into existence. From the time of its existence until any kind of living being is able to survive takes another 20 kalpas. From the time living beings arrive, grow, flourish, and expand, until they become extinct takes another 20 kalpas. From the point that system starts to dissolve until it is completely destroyed and remains in dissolution is another 20 kalpas. That is a single cycle of one big kalpa. Furthermore, while one world is being created, another is living, another is dying, another is already extinct. There are countless worlds and universes like that.

JS: The Pope is issuing a ‘social encyclical’ on the issue of global warming and will make an appeal to the U.N. in person. The Patriarch of the Orthodox Christian Church has convened an interfaith conference on a boat near the North Pole—all faiths praying together. Do you think it is a good idea for Buddhist leaders to join forces in front of their students and raise this issue, at prayer festivals, conferences and teachings?

RT: I think it is very appropriate. More people are becoming aware of global warming, but only recently. Not long ago, people had little or no clarity on this subject.

JS: It has changed over the last year since the Fourth IPCC Report came out. Science progresses methodically and slowly. To reach consensus between 2500 world experts is not trivial. Finally they came up with 90% certainty that humans are causing it. After that there could not be any respectable opposition. The media woke up somewhat. However, even that has not stopped those opposing the truth.

RT: No, not at all.

JS: Even though the scientific conclusions are specific and water-tight, still the political arena does not change, because enormous profits being made through greed and waste. What about our own view and conduct in relation to the ecological crisis? Great spiritual masters like Guru Padmasambhava saw the world as dreamlike and illusionary, yet they went to enormous effort to benefit future generations. I wonder what this tells us about the view we should be cultivating.

Emptiness, interdependence, impermanence, the nature of beings and things being dreamlike…these do not prevent us from doing things for other people. They do not prevent us doing positive things and reducing negativity. It may be like a dream, but it still affects people. The same question is raised in the Bodhicaryavatara. If everything is emptiness, why is there a need for compassion? There is a need because people suffer. They do not understand emptiness. Therefore it is important to work for their benefit, to reduce suffering. Its being like a dream does not change anything in that regard.

JS: I presume it would change the way in which we worked, and avoid anxiety, if we recognize the situation has twin aspects of being both dream-like and a crisis?

RT: Because things are impermanent, interdependent, emptiness, we should try to see them clearly, so that whatever the situation may be, we do not panic. We change our way of experiencing. That does not mean that we should not try to change the situation. Even if we have to live in that situation, we should do so in a peaceful and joyful manner. Within the situation, we should do whatever we can to make it better – without becoming negative, without becoming completely hopeless, or overwhelmed by tragedy. We should live in a way to make things better, both outside and inside.

You must be familiar with this kind of situation. You were a refugee when Tibet was destroyed by external enemies. Do you see any relationship between these two crises?

RT: The situation for the Tibetans is very relevant. The Dalai Lama has repeatedly said we should not become pessimistic; we should stay optimistic. That does not imply we should ignore the situation, be unaware of the problems and injustices, or blame ourselves. Rather we should clearly see the situation we are in. Recognizing it, understanding it, accepting it, then we do not need to become utterly disillusioned. We need to see clearly what we can do to make it better. If we can find even a little thing to make it better, we should concentrate on that, rather than just mourning the negative things that have happened for us. If we do that, we become more positive, more enthusiastic, more optimistic. That was the message we Tibetan refugees received. Instead of becoming angry and hateful, feeling sorry for ourselves and completely losing hope – look at the situation and ask ‘what can we do now?’ That is why the Tibetan refugees tried their best to preserve their culture and improve their situation a little bit. This, of course, is not an easy thing, either inside or outside Tibet. There are so many negative forces. Nonetheless, it is working.

JS: Often at great cost.

RT: Yes, the cost is there. All the negative things happened anyway, so within that context, whatever positive could be done, was done.

JS: In the present climate crisis, there is the possibility that the human race is going to fail to recognize its karmic responsibilities. The IPCC have said that unless human society stops pumping 70 million tons of carbon gas into the atmosphere annually, within 10 years we could irretrievably damage our climate and the whole biosphere.

RT: According to Buddhism and according to our experience as Tibetan refugees, we never know if we will succeed in changing or reversing the situation, or not. We can never say how much can be done, or how much cannot be done. Nobody can say that precisely, but that should not prevent us trying.

There is a great urgency that the world should arrive at a genuine treaty and put it into practice. What advice would you give as a Buddhist monk and teacher?

RT: I think the understanding of this information is very important. People have a vague idea that global warming is dangerous, but I think most have not yet experienced the urgency at a personal level. Governments talk a lot, but I do not know how serious they really are. Their actions do not match their talk. Maybe some more or less understand it, but their actions are inadequate.

There is a Sanskrit verse:

For the sake of the world you should sacrifice your country.
For the sake of the country you should sacrifice your village.
For the sake of your village you should sacrifice your family.
For the sake of your family you should sacrifice yourself.

Well, it appears the opposite attitude is prevalent nowadays:

For the sake of your country you sacrifice the world.
For the sake of your village you sacrifice your country.
For the sake of your family you sacrifice your village.
For the sake of yourself you sacrifice your family.

When that kind of situation has come about, we think “If I feel it is somehow beneficial for me, or if I get more money for a certain time, I do not care if the planet is going to the dogs or not.” That is a root problem; basically it is ignorance. We think our own welfare is assured because we get money or power or whatever. Yet we live in this world and actually if the world is gone, where will we use our ‘profit’?

JS: In the context of Global Warming, we could even say, collectively, this is pathological ignorance, possibly even a kind of ‘death wish’.

RT: It is as if we do not actually know, we are a bit confused. The kind of education we receive over-emphasizes personal achievement and personal goals. ‘I have to be the top person. I have to win the most. My success is the only thing. What happens around me is not the most important thing.’ It is an attitude, a way of looking that is too ego-centred. We lose the overall view. We almost stop thinking that we are part of anything at all. That is why some people become depressed, lonely and so forth. It also comes from this.

Interview by John & Diane Stanley, Sikkim, October 2007

Ringu Tulku Rinpoche (b.1952) was recognised by Karmapa XVI as a reincarnate lama of Rigul monastery. He holds the Kagyu title of Khenpo and Nyingma title of Lopon Chenpo. A professor of Tibetology in Sikkim for 17 years, Rinpoche authored a noted work on the non-sectarian Rime movement. His fluent English and congenial teaching style is appreciated worldwide. He founded Bodhicharya, an international organization that coordinates the preservation & transmission of Buddhist teachings with intercultural dialogue, education & social projects.

Do Buddhists Believe in God? ~ Lewis Richmond

In my upcoming book, Aging as a Spiritual Practice (Gotham Books, January 2012), I tell the following story:

Once, when I was on a live radio show being interviewed by a Christian talk show host, her first question to me was, “Do you Buddhists believe in God?”

I had only a few seconds to think of an answer.

“Yes,” I said.

“Good!” the host said. “And how do you pray?”

I said that we prayed in silence to reach our divine nature.

“I like that!” the host said.

When I have told this story in talks, some of my Buddhist listeners say, “Oh, that’s nice. It’s good to be polite.” But I wasn’t just being polite. I was raised in a Christian church and went to Christian Sunday school. My favorite song as a child was “God is Love.” After graduating from college, for a year I attended Christian seminary, with the idea of becoming a minister. I didn’t become a dedicated Buddhist until some time after that. I am comfortable with the word God.

It’s true that by saying “Yes” I was also making an effort to establish some common ground. It was live radio, our time slot was 20 minutes and I was there to discuss a just-released book. I didn’t want to spend the whole time trying to explain what Buddhists believe. Also, I felt that a more nuanced answer, however I couched it, would have come across as some version of “No.” I sensed the need to give a definitive answer. The answer I gave came closest to what was so for me — understanding that I was not trying to speak for the world’s 320 million Buddhists, but only for myself.

The host knew I was a Buddhist; I was on her show to discuss my book, Healing Lazarus: A Buddhist’s Journey from Near Death to New Life. I sensed from the way she posed her question that all she really wanted to know was whether I was a person of religious conviction and belief — a person of faith. And I am. I’m an ordained Buddhist priest — a religious professional. My daily religious practice is the center of my life. I lead meditation groups, I am training and ordaining other priests. In that context, “Yes” is the best answer.

However, even though most of the world’s Buddhists recite the name of Buddha or pray to Buddha, Buddha is not a deity or supreme being in the same way that the Christian God is. A lay minister of the Jodo Shinshu sect of Japanese Buddhism once told me that he tries to explain to his Christian friends that Amida Buddha is a principle, like universal love, rather than a god. Another point worth noting is that there is no word for “Buddhism” in Buddhism — that “-ism” was an invention of 19th century European translators. Gautama the Buddha called his teaching marga, or the Path.

In that sense, the host’s second question — about how I prayed — was the more interesting to me. For Buddhists, what and how you practice is more fundamental than what you believe. My teacher, Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, used to say that people could practice Zen meditation and also believe in God; that was OK with him. My good friend, Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk, practiced meditation with us in the early days of Tassajara Zen monastery. Like many other Catholic priests and monks who have taken up, and even taught, Zen, Brother David did not feel a contradiction between his Catholic contemplative practice and Zen meditation. In fact, he felt that there was an affinity between the two. A Tibetan Buddhist teacher once said, when asked about God, “God and Buddha may appear to be different, but when we speak of the nature of God and the nature of Buddha there may be more closeness.” I learned in Christian seminary that St. Anselm’s definition of God was “that than which nothing greater can be conceived.” Shunryu Suzuki often spoke of the inconceivability of Buddha in similar language. In Zen meditation we seek to express and embody this inconceivability.

So when I said to the radio host, “We pray in silence to reach our divine nature,” I was not just making that up. I knew that there is a long history in Christianity of the “prayer of silence.” In the Eastern Orthodox tradition this is known as hesychasm, which is based on Christ’s injunction in the Book of Matthew to “go into your closet to pray.” A more modern version of this practice is the so-called “centering prayer,” whose ancient origins can be traced to the writings of St. John of the Cross and other early contemplatives.

My colleagues in Zen may object that it is a stretch to call Zen meditation “prayer,” or to describe its purpose as a method “to reach our divine nature.” I understand; I’m sure this post will receive many critical comments both from the Buddhist and Christian sides. My purpose here is not to defend what I said, as much as describe it, along with the thinking behind it. I think what is most important is that the host and I had a real dialogue. After the show was over, she told me that someone close to her had experienced a traumatic brain injury, as I had done, and she wanted to know more. That was a touching moment, a human connection that was more important, I think, than anything I said or she said on the show.

Interfaith dialogue can sometimes be superficial, but it can also go deep. Dialogue is the universal antidote to misunderstanding and prejudice, especially the religious kind, and I am all for it — even when it falls short, or seems unfruitful. This week’s headlines about Osama bin Laden reminds us all of the terrible cost of misunderstanding, prejudice and hatred. The hatred and the killing will not end — in fact, given our human propensity for demonizing those who do not believe as we do, such things may always be with us. But we must never stop trying to counter prejudice with efforts to find common ground. That was what I was trying to do on the radio show, and what I am trying to do here by writing about it.

Thomas Merton and the Pratyekabuddha pt. 2 of 3 – 2009 re-edit

Thomas Merton and the Pratyekabuddha pt. 3 of 3 – 2009 re-edit

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