March 30, 2008

"A Heart as Wide as The World"

Living with Mindfulness,
Wisdom, and Compassion
by Sharon Salzberg

Publisher Comments:
The Buddhist teachings have the power to transform our lives for the better, says Sharon Salzberg, and all we need to bring about this transformation can be found in the ordinary events of our everyday experiences. Salzberg distills more than twenty-five years of teaching and practicing meditation into a series of short essays, rich with anecdotes and personal revelations, that offer genuine aid and comfort for anyone on the spiritual path. Many chance moments, both small and profound, serve as the basis for Salzberg's teachings: hearing a market stall hawker calling "I have what you need "; noting hotel guests' reactions to a midnight fire alarm; watching her teacher, Dipa Ma, bless a belligerent dog; seeing the Dalai Lama laughing uproariously at his own mistake. Each passing moment, Salzberg shows, can help us down the path toward "a seamlessness of connection and an unbounded heart."

Meaningful Quotes:

"It is compassion that removes the heavy bar, opens the door to freedom, makes the narrow heart as wide as the world." Nyanaponika Thera

"I live my life in widening circles that reach out across the world. I may not even complete the last one, but I give myself to it." Rilke

"How long will we fill our pockets like children with dirt and stones? Let the world go. Holding it, we never know ourselves, never are airborne." Rumi

Sadly, we basically overlook and discredit the power of our own great potential. We forget who we truly are.

"The Buddha's enlightenment solved Buddha's problem, now you solve yours." Munindra

...a revelation of practice as the movement toward fully experiencing the ordinary, rather than grasping after the seemingly extraordinary.

It is in the ordinary mind that we find our Buddha nature, when we stop trying to have something special happen.

Being a beginner means having a freshness of view and an unguarded openness to experience.

"Renounce and enjoy." Gandhi

We renounce that which is inessential, and relaxing into stillness, we become fully focused on the present moment.

...we are all capable of tremendous love, but until we untangle our conditioning, our capacity for connection remains hidden or distorted.

Because compassion is a state of mind that is itself open, abundant, and inclusive, it allows us to meet pain more directly.

Love, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity do not distort our ability to see clearly...

Trying to avoid looking at the natural flow of life is fearful, tiring work.

Mindfulness is a quality of awareness that sees directly at whatever is happening in our experience and meets it face to face, without the intrusion of bias, without adding such forces as grasping, aversion, or delusion to the experience.

Restlessness often comes from a desire to control that which is inherently uncontrollable.

Through meditation practice we learn to enter into silence, and there the fruits of the practice reveal themselves: wisdom which is seeing deeply into the true nature of life, and compassion, the trembling of the heart in response to suffering. Wisdom reveals that we are all part of a whole, and compassion tells us that we can never stand apart. Through this prism we see life with openness, knowing our oneness. We find wisdom and compassion coming to life, transforming how we understand ourselves and how we understand our world.

"If you are looking for something that is everywhere, you don't need to travel to get there; you need love." Saint Augustine

We practice meditation because, rather than grasping for what we do not have, on trying to futilely to hold on to what is changing, we can instead settle into the moment and know the refuge of letting go. We practice meditation so as not to waste our precious lives.

"Life's breath is like a water bubble." Kalu Rinpoche

Only love is big enough to hold all the pain in this world.

If we have the ability to remain balanced in the face of unpleasantness, if we can remain mindful, then every moment, including our last ones, may be filled with the peace that we yearn for.

In relating to our life, we have a fundamental choice/ we can be cognizant of and accepting of this ephemeral, fleeting world, or we can cling to a mistaken notion of solidity, of inherent permanent categories. But if we deny the insubstantiality of things, we miss the living, flowing nature of the universe.

"Compassion is a verb." Thich Nhat Hanh

Compassion is nourished by the wisdom of our interconnectedness... Wisdom of our interconnectedness arises hand in hand with learning to truly love ourselves.

Meditation practice brings our latent wisdom and compassion to life.

For in our intention lies the power of our minds, and the possibility of essential change.

Joyful compassion comes from knowing the wonderful capacity of the human heart to connect, and wishing that more of us felt connected to each other.

"The Dharma doesn't suffer from comparison." Munindra

We can be truly fearless only when, with a spacious and compassionate heart, we are profoundly in touch with our innermost fear; when we are mindful of it, are not hating ourselves for the fear, and are not being ruled by it.

True patience is constancy - the consistent willingness to use this moment of reality as a vehicle for wisdom and compassion.

"In meditation practice, time is not a factor. It is not something that is relevant in the process. Practice is timeless." Munindra

There is magic in wonderment, in making a friend of silence, in the space between breaths, in finding the beautiful gift of connectedness.


Other Books by Susan Salzberg:
Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience
The Force of Kindness
Insight Meditation: Correspondence Course
Insight Meditation Kit: A Step-By-Step Course
Lovingkindness Meditation
Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness
Voices of Insight